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What is Pounamu / Greenstone / Nephrite Jade?
Jade is a name used for two distinct materials, the less common and
more valuable "Jadeite" with a glassy or pearly luster, and the more
common nephrite, with a silky luster.
Jadeite is sodium aluminium silicate, and varies in colour through
white, apple green, emerald and brown.
Nephrite is calcium and iron magnesium silicate, and is a transparent to
opaque (translucent in thin slices) mottled-green colour with dark
inclusions, consisting of interwoven, long, thin fibers.
Nephrite is readily available in New Zealand, and is used by
craftspeople to make tools, ornaments, and ceremonial objects of
This note was prepared with the help of information from the Academic American
Encyclopædia, and the gem collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
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