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California Jade

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Jade Facts

     There are 2 types of jade: nephrite and jadeite.  Jadeite is the more widely known type and is also more valuable than nephrite.  Jadeite can be found in light green, lavender, pink, yellow, and white; nephrite in dark green, white, brown and black. 
     Jadeite is mostly found in Asia, with some small deposits in the Alps and in Guatemala.  Nephrite is common to Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and the US.   Jade is most often sold by piece, rather than by carat like most other gems.  Defining qualities are color, translucency, texture, and pattern. 
     Jade is also very hard due to its crystalline structure.  On the well-known hardness scale, jade rates between a 6 and a 7. 

     Jadeite is a type of mineral known as a pyroxene.  It contains sodium and aluminum, while nephrite, an amphibolite, contains calcium, magnesium, iron, and aluminum.  Nephrite is more common on the market.
    Once upon a time Big Sur's beaches were longer, but constant mud, rock, and landslides shortened them considerably.  The jade trapped underneath was put under intense pressure, which is where red jade comes from, the intense heat.  Iron deposits leaked under the landslides and intermingled with the jade beneath, giving the jade its dark color.

     The jade found in Monterey County, CA (Big Sur) is a variety of poor-quality jadeite.  There are many versions that carry locally-tagged nicknames that depend on the pattern in the jade. 
     Volcan jade is usually a very dark pale green, almost brown or black, with swirls of red.  Solid red pieces of volcan jade can be found.  
     Blue jade is just that: blue.  Sometimes blue jade will have a pattern of some kind, but the whole thing will be blue.  The blue can be light or dark.
     Elephant jade is solid black, and good pieces are quite rare because they look like every other rock on the beach.  It takes a trained eye to spot elephant jade .
     Fire jade is the last and rarest of the four.  Fire jade is an Indian artifact, as in the early days local tribes would heat jade in their fires and use them to boil water, keep warm at night, etc.   The resulting pattern is a swirl of pale green, yellow, and brown. 

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