Gemology: J is for ...

Our tenth visit to our gemology guide brings us the gemstones beginning with J. Welcome to Jacinth, Jade, Jargoon, Jasper, Jourado Diamond, and Jet.


Jacinth is a reddish-orange translucent gemstone, ideal for faceting and frequently referred to an ancient literature and one of the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. Jacinth was also one of the twelve gemstones used in the biblical breast plate of Aaron. The term Jacinth is not often used anymore. Instead gemologists and jewellers simply refer to it as orange or red quartz, though Jacinth sounds much more mysterious and romantic!

Jacinth Orange Quartz Uncut

Jade (Jadeite/Nephrite)

Jade is actually two different minerals, Jadeite and Nephrite, that are very similar in appearance and feel. Both have been used for millennia. Pre-historic jade axes, weapons and tools have been found, as well as polished jade jewellery dating back over 5000 years. Jade is an incredibly hard substance that makes durable tools and sharp blades, yet it also lends itself to being carved and polished for decorative purposes.

We all know of jade as a green gemstone, but it also comes in shades of white, yellow, pink and grey. Of the two different forms, Jadeite is the most precious, being a richer colour and a more lustrous finish when polished. The most perfect specimens of Jadeite are known as Imperial Jade and can be more expensive than diamonds. Traditionally, only the Emperor of China could own Imperial Jade, but nowadays anyone who can afford it can buy it. Many other lustrous green gemstones are confused with jade and sold as such to unwitting buyers, but only nephrite and jadeite are true jade. Terms like Mexican Jade, Amazon Jade, Jasper Jade etc. are simply descriptive names given to jade-like stones of a similar appearance, but of a different mineral composition.

Carved Jade Ornament from the Qing Dynasty