Jade and Emerald are highly coveted vibrant green gemstones, with cultures valuing them throughout history. Fast forward to today, high quality Jade and Emerald jewelry can both reach millions of dollars. So which one is right for you?
The appeal of Jade lies in it’s glow. Its translucency refracting light as it shines through the stone, making it seem to be lit from within. This effect has been noticed since ancient times and was one of the prime reasons for jade being so highly converted around the world.
(A range of jade pendants in different, beautiful colors - Jade Artisan Four Seasons Collection )
The Aztecs characterized eloquence as "a scattering of jades" and jade from the Americas to Asia is said to bring a sense of nobility, harmony and refinement.
The ancient Chinese Sage Confucius taught that there were key virtues that a person should aspire to have: virtue, elegance, harmony, heaven and wealth and he considered Jade gemstones to be the perfect metaphor for these virtues. This is continued into the modern day with many people believing these virtues will come to them when wearing jade.
So Jade embodies, both physically and symbolically, time eternal virtues that were valued across the world.
(Actress Jessica Chastain attends the 2014 Hollywood premiere of "Interstellar" wearing a pair of finely carved jadeite earrings)
Emeralds share some striking characteristics with Jade. In ancient Greek and Roman times, emeralds were associated with Venus - the Goddess of love, beauty, desire and sensuality. Venus was also associated with material wealth and Nobility, andin time therefore emeralds were also as a gemstone that embodies nobleness, glamour and grandeur.
Emeralds belong to a family of minerals called Beryl. Put simply if the Beryl is green then you’re looking at Emerald. If the Beryl is blue or cyan then you’re looking at another famous gemstone - Aquamarine.
Emeralds have a very long history in Europe and South America and today most emeralds come from Colombia. Where our two types of jade (Jadeite and Nephrite - what’s the difference) mostly come from Asia.
(Actress Zendaya's Show Stopping Emerald Necklace at Venice Film Festival 2021)
Interestingly, jade is a little softer than emerald (7 vs. 8 on the Mohs scale) but it is more resistant to wear and tear of day-to-day life. This is because emeralds have more ‘inclusions’ - small cracks and imperfections - that create weaknesses in the gemstone. For this reason, even higher quality Emerald is usually treated with oils to try to make it less fragile.
If therefore you’re looking for some jewelry to wear regularly then jade will be more resilient to any knicks or scratches.
The fine art of cutting and styling gemstones like emeralds and diamonds takes years to develop and even longer to perfect - especially when styling jade into exquisite jewelry.
Jade’s structure makes cutting and molding it into incredibly detailed and delicate pieces possible in a way that simply cannot be attempted with other gemstones, so the creator’s artistic vision can be unleashed with jade in a way that is not possible with emeralds.
In many ways Jade is unique amongst other gemstones for its style. Its strength means it can be shaped and carved into almost any shape or style you desire! Whereas emeralds (and many other gemstones like rubies, sapphires and diamonds) have standard global cuts and the artistry focuses on the setting for the gemstones rather than on the gemstone itself.
The unique quality of Jade jewelry therefore lies in the individuality of each piece.
(Cartier imperial jade necklace sold by Sotherby’s auction in Hong Kong in 2014 for $26m USD)
Which is more expensive? It all depends on what we’re talking about…
The most expensive jade jewelry ever sold was a one-off Cartier imperial jade necklace sold by Sotherby’s auction house in Hong Kong in 2014 for $26m. This is double the most expensive piece of emerald jewelry ever sold, which was an emerald & diamond tiara made for a German Princess sold by Sotheby's in 2011 for USD $13m.
(The Henckel Von Donnersmarck Emerald Tiara sold by Sotheby's auction in 2011 for $13m USD)
However. When it comes to the raw material. The most expensive emerald ever discovered dwarfs this amount. The Bahia Emerald was discovered in 2001 and is worth approx USD $400m!!!! However given it weighs 381kg it will almost certainly be cut into smaller gemstones to be transformed into some “usable” gemstones.
So there you have it. Jade & Emerald are both beautiful, vibrant green gemstones with a rich history and are valued around the world. But for us, Jade is the most beautiful and stunning gemstone for jewelry. It’s completely different from any other precious gemstone and the crafting that goes into every individual piece means you’re always wearing a unique piece of art.
If you want to deepen your knowledge about our favorite gemstone, you can find more information in our other articles - Jadeite. Nephrite. What’s it all about. Isn’t jade only green?, and The powerful meanings behind jade colors.