Why is jade considered so important?

Jul 2, 2023


As one of the world's oldest ornamental gemstones, jade has been prized for its strength and beauty for thousands of years.

Not only carved into jewellery, statues, ritual objects, tools and even weapons, jade artefacts have been discovered from as far back as the Neolithic period in Australia, America, Asia and Europe, used by the Aztec, Chinese, Māori and Maya cultures.

Why is jade so popular?

To understand the reason behind why jade has proven so popular, we need to look at what it’s made of.

Firstly, there are two minerals that are generally called jade: nephrite and jadeite. Both are tough, but they have different chemical compositions and crystal structures.

Nephrite is a type of amphibole mineral (made of double chained silica) and jadeite is a type of pyroxene mineral (made of a single chain silica). Because of these characteristics, nephrite jade is the toughest known natural mineral and explains why it was used in the neolithic era for axe heads and blades.

Jadeite, though not as tough as nephrite, has a less fibrous crystal structure so is more suited for polishing and using for intricate carvings and jewellery.

Due to the strength of nephrite and the polished beauty of jadeite, it’s easy to see why it’s stood the test of time and has been considered so important across many cultures.

Jade in Chinese culture

Since ancient times, jade has been popular in China. Every Chinese dynasty has used jade for all sorts of ritual objects, ornaments, tools, jewellery, figurines and decorations.

Even today, gifts made from jade are given on birthdays, anniversaries and marriages because  it symbolises strength, luck, health, harmony and balance. This beautiful gem is often placed in homes as part of feng shui traditions to balance energy to home life.

Value of jade

The most valuable jade is fine-quality jadeite and often commands higher prices than diamonds due to its rarity. The value is based on colour, first and foremost, with emerald-green being the most desirable colour choice out of the purples, reds, oranges, whites, greys and black that it also comes in. This vivid greed shade is known as ‘Imperial jade’.

Jade’s transparency can range between opaque to semi-transparent with the latter being the most valuable. According to the Gem Institution of America (GIA), “Some buyers place a thin jadeite slice on a printed page and try to read the print through the gem. If the transparency is excellent, the viewer can see the print easily, even if the jadeite is dark green.”

Once colour and transparency have been established, the texture is also an important factor in determining the value. Jadeite should be smooth with an even texture.

Are there different types of jade?

With the demand outweighing the supply of true jadeite, similar looking gemstones have been marketed as jade. Though not ‘true’ jade, the alternatives often have stunning colour, transparency and texture and are often easier to source in Australia.


Also known as Australian jade, chrysoprase is an apple-green chalcedony (quartz). Due to its similar translucency to Imperial jade, it can easily be mistaken for nephrite or jadeite by the untrained eye. However, it’s actually been desired and admired since 7,000 BC when Alexander the Great took a chrysoprase gem with him into battle.

When looking for jade jewellery pieces, specifically in Australia where Imperial jade is more difficult to source, chrysoprase is a stunning alternative and in itself is considered rare – more so with its popularity in Australia growing.

Yerilla jewellery at The Perth MintThe Perth Mint jewellery boutique

If you’d like to view chrysoprase jewellery pieces, you can find the Yerilla® range at The Perth Mint’s jewellery store. Located inside our landmark heritage listed building at our iconic East Perth site in Hay Street, our elegant jewellery boutique is home to some of the world’s most exclusive chrysoprase jewellery.

Many of our high-end, hand-selected jewellery pieces are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, as well as the peace of mind that comes with choosing to make a purchase from a Government of Western Australia-owned enterprise with a long-standing reputation for quality and integrity.

Our experts will be happy to assist you to try on beautiful Yerilla® jewellery of your choice. See how it looks against your skin, ensuring your masterpiece reflects your true individuality.

Come and explore today or book an appointment now.