Emerald and jade are two of the most famous and ancient green gems. They’re both very famous for their green hue, and how prized they were by ancient emperors and kings. So which one will you choose today ? Is jade a better fit for you than emerald ? Would emerald be better for your engagement ring ?
Let’s take a look at emerald vs jade, see how they differ and how that can affect your jewelry, and thus your choice.
Emerald vs jade
Emerald is far more expensive than jade, and much more transparent. Their colors are similar but jade tends to be much paler than emerald, even in high quality specimens. Emerald is also a harder gemstone than jade, meaning it will not scratch or chip as easily as jade, so it is safer to wear every day or mounted on a ring.
What is emerald ?
Emerald is a type of beryl, in the same family as aquamarine and morganite. As a beryl emerald is pretty expensive, and owes its green color to trace amounts of chromium, and rarely vanadium. Emerald is one of the 4 precious stones, and one of the cardinal stones, along with ruby, sapphire, and diamond. Amethyst used to be such a stone in older times.
What is jade ?
Jade is a translucent-opaque gemstone that comes in two varieties: jadeite, and nephrite. Both are considered forms of jade. The green of a jade piece is also due to chromium, though this gem can also come in shades of white and yellow. Jade is very well known in ancient Asia and Latin America, as it was used for religious, ritualistic, and ornamental purposes.
Read also: Morganite VS Rose Quartz
1. Emerald tends to be clearer than jade
Both emerald and jade can have a similar look, if you find the appropriate gems, but emerald will always appear clearer. Emerald tends to have a lot of inclusions, most of them feathery and whitish, leading to a cloudy look. There are very clear emeralds (eye-clean) but those are incredibly rare and expensive.
Still, even a cloudy emerald is clearer than jade. This is because jade is hazy and opaque due to the way it forms in the earth. The light enters the gem slightly, but cannot pass all the way through. You could never see through a piece of jade as you could through a piece of emerald.
So if a colored, eye-clean green gemstone is what you’re after emerald is the way to go.
2. Jade has a lighter green, while emerald is usually darker
Both jade and emerald come in shades of green, but they differ a little. The exact shades are very similar, as both have chromium to thank for their green. But, jade is usually paler than emerald. Jade can go from pale green (almost white) to light minty green to deep, saturated green yet the very saturated greens are not common.
Emeralds can also be pale, though most of the time even a pale emerald will have more green in it compared to a pale jade. So if you’re looking for a specific shade, both jade and emerald can offer you a nice selection of green, but emerald is the one with the more saturated tones.
There is also a slight, very slight blue tone to many emeralds. Jade doesn’t have as much of a blue tone, it’s more of a neutral green, or one with a yellow tone.
3. Emerald is a lot more expensive than jade
Price matters when dealing with gemstones, as they can make you completely change your mind for which gem to use. For example loose emerald gems can sell for $1000-2500 per carat, depending on cut quality, color, clarity, and whether the gem has been treated or not. Naturally color-saturated emerald with good clarity will go past that price range.
jade on the other hand sells for par less, averaging a $30 per carat. And like emerald, treated jade is worn less than naturally pigmented and translucent jade. Finding jade with a very good green color is not easy, and you will often stumble upon white or pale green versions.
So while jade is far more affordable than emerald, it’s much more difficult to find a deep green color for it. And when you do, it will be almost as expensive as a lower quality emerald.
4. Jade is softer than emerald
Jade as a gemstone is softer than emerald, and this matter when you’re thinking of jewelry that will be worn daily. A gemstone’s hardness or softness is measures on the Mohs scale of hardness. Jade scores a 6-7 out of 10, while emerald scores 7.5-8 on the same scale.
This means jade will scratch or chip easier than emerald will, so it’s a good idea to restrict this gem to occasional wear, or take it off before doing anything that might put it in harm’s way. This also means that jade benefits most from cabochon cuts – the smooth, domed round or oval cuts. A cabochon offers no specific weak point, such as a sharp edge for the jade to crack along.
Emeralds are still a bit soft, but way harder than jade. This means you can wear emerald every day, but it’d be best to still take some care when wearing it. We recommend getting emerald in a step-cut, such as the classic emerald cut, baguette, or octagon as these cuts go along an emerald crystal’s natural growth pattern. This way you keep it as intact as possible and don’t revel too many weak points.
Can you use jade instead of emerald ?
Jade cannot be used in place of emerald, as it looks quite different, even when the colors are almost matching. Where emerald will be transparent, emerald will be just translucent. This is the main giveaway, and light will not go through jade the same way as through emerald.
Jade will also accumulate scratches and chip faster than an emerald, so you have to be very careful.
If all you’re looking for is a green gemstone instead of emerald, you’re better off with other gems such as green tourmaline or green garnet (tsavorite). Both of these gems offer clarity, great color, and a much lower price than emerald.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.