Concept

Jadeite

Summary
Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral with composition NaAlSi2O6. It is hard (Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0), very tough, and dense, with a specific gravity of about 3.4. It is found in a wide range of colors, but is most often found in shades of green or white. Jadeite is formed only in the subduction zones of continental margins, where rock undergoes metamorphism at high pressure but relatively low temperature. Jadeite is the principal mineral making up the most valuable form of jade, a precious stone particularly prized in China. Most gem-quality jadeite jade comes from northern Myanmar. Jade tools and implements have been found at Stone Age sites, showing that the mineral has been prized by humans since before the beginning of written history. The name jadeite is derived (via jade and ilia) from the Spanish phrase "piedra de ijada" which means "stone of the side". The Latin version of the name, lapis nephriticus, is the origin of the term nephrite, which is a different mineral that also shares the common name jade. Jadeite is a hard, extremely tough, rare mineral of the clinopyroxene family of minerals. Though highly variable in color, it is typically apple-green to emerald-green, or less commonly white or white with spots of green. Occurrences are typically granular or massive; individual crystals are very rare, occurring only as small prismatic crystals in vugs in massive jadeite. Crystals are four-sided or eight-sided in cross section and show perfect cleavage on [110] at angles of 87 and 93 degrees. There is also a rare parting on [100]. The interlocking crystals of massive jadeite help give it its extreme toughness. Jadeite has a Mohs hardness of 6.5 to 7, slightly less than that of common quartz. Fracture surfaces are sugary in texture, and sparkle from the exposed perfect cleavage on [110]. Jade is relatively dense, with a specific gravity of 3.3 to 3.5 in natural specimens. The specific gravity increases with the iron content, and very pure jadeite has a specific gravity of 3.25.
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