20 November 2017

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When I attended the Canadian Gemmological Association yearly conference this past October in Toronto, one of the presentations covered a subject we don’t often talk about: that is, jade. I learnt a lot from that very informative talk, for example that Tiffany now offers jewellery made out of Canadian nephrite jade and that Canada is the first world producer of nephrite jade. Finally, I realized that Canada has mines of diamond and jade, respectively the hardest and the toughest of all gemstones!


This excellent presentation might be given in other Canadian cities and I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I would like to share with you the gist of the conference given by Odile Civitello, GG, FGA, CAP, a highly experienced Montreal gemmologist-appraiser (www.odilecivitello.com)

Martine Lavoie

Heart in Canadian nephrite jade, design Elsa Peretti, Tiffany

  Pierres de Charme  

What exactly is jade? 

Too many people think of it as an opaque and spinach-green stone while in fact it can be all colours and even almost transparent! In the 19th century, it was discovered that two kinds of jade exist: jadeite jade and nephrite jade.


Jadeite jade can be all colours and nearly transparent, which will never be the case for nephrite jade. The rarest colours of jadeite jade are bright green (called ‘’imperial’’ jade), lavender or lilac and colorless. These varieties can be semi-transparent. They are rare, real and extremely expensive. As for nephrite jade, most of the time, it is found in all shades of green and white, the colour favoured by past Chinese emperors.

Carving in colorless jadeite jade, ''icy jade''


Both jades are extremely tough, resisting shocks and pressure, which explains why they can be carved very thin or almost lace like, or from a more practical perspective, why someone can wear the same jade bangle all their life. 



Three ancient civilizations revered jade: the Chinese, the Mesoamerican and the Maoris. In China, as in Mesoamerica, jade was not only used as an ornament, but also in funerary objects to guide the spirit of the deceased to heaven. The Chinese used only their nephrite jade – the stone of heaven – for over 5,000 years until the end of the 19th Century when they discovered jadeite jade from Myanmar. The place both jades occupy in China is striking. Even today babies are given jade bangles rather than diamond earrings.

Bracelet in nephrite jade, Polar Jade

The prominent place of jade for so many centuries explains why China today is the number one buyer, be it jadeite jade from Myanmar or nephrite jade from Canada since both countries export 90% of their total production to China.

The place of Canadian nephrite jade on the world map is quite recent. It really started in 1976 when Canadian geologist Kirk Makepiece found nephrite in northern British Columbia and created Jade West. In 1994, he discovered deposits of better nephrite jade that he called Polar jadeTM. a nephrite that is brighter, more translucent, than regular nephrite jade and takes an excellent polish. In 2009, he created Green Mountain Jade (GMJ), a company that mines and carves nephrite jade.

Carving in nephrite jade, Polar Jade


Of the 700 tons of nephrite jade produced worldwide, 500 come from Canada and 70% of the world reserves are here as well.


Magnificent pieces are made out of Canadian nephrite jade: huge Buddhas as well as stunning carvings and bangles, rings and pendants. In fact, Canada is becoming a world leader in all jade carving art.

Necklace in jadeite jade, imperial jade


To sum up, Canadian nephrite jade is beautiful, available, ethical and sustainable. A stone worth of discovering and promoting.




Pierres de Charme

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Montreal, Québec,
H3B 1M1

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