Nephrite

Category  :  Mineral
Hardness  :  6 - 6.5
Gravity  :  2.95 (+.15, -.05)
Reflection  :  1.61
Color  :  Translucent to opaque and often mottled. Light to dark green, yellow to brown, white, gray, black.
Chemical formula  :  Ca2(Mg,Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2
Crystal system  :  monoclinic
Major varieties  :  Nephrite Jade

The chemical formula for nephrite is Ca2(Mg,Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2. It is one of two different mineral species called jade. The other mineral species known as jade is jadeite, which is a variety of pyroxene. While nephrite jade possess mainly grays and greens (and occasionally yellows, browns or whites), Jadeite jade, which is rarer, can also contain blacks, reds, pinks and violets. Nephrite jade is an ornamental stone, used in carvings, beads, or cabochon cut gemstones.

The name nephrite is derived from lapis nephriticus, which means 'kidney stone' and is the Latin version of the Spanish piedra de ijada. Accordingly, nephrite jade was once believed to be a cure for kidney stones.

Nephrite can be found in a translucent white to very light yellow form which is known in China as mutton fat jade, in an opaque white to very light brown or gray which is known as chicken bone jade, as well as in a variety of green colours. Canada is the principal source of modern lapidary nephrite. Nephrite jade was used mostly in pre-1800 China as well as in New Zealand, the Pacific Coast and Atlantic Coasts of North America, Neolithic Europe, and southeast Asia.

Nephrite jade

It is generally found in fairly homogeneous opaque to translucent masses, which are a fairly strong but not very lively green. Because of its exceptional toughness, it is used for the carving of figurines, bas-reliefs, and elaborate, thin-walled vases. It is distinguished from jadeite jade by its felted, rather than granular, structure, as well as its lower density and different refractive indices.


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