Jade vs Greenstone
Those who have some interest in gemstones and semi precious stones know about jade, which is a semi precious stone. It is a generic name for two different varieties that are called jadeite and nephrite respectively. Though, both these varieties are green in color, they are made up of different silicates. Greenstone is actually a type of jade belonging to nephrite category. Most New Zealanders are aware of the name greenstone that is not used outside for nephrite. This article looks at features of both Jade and Greenstone and the difference between them, in order to remove doubts from the minds of the readers.
Jade are of two types, jadeite and Nephrite. Most of the jade available in the market is in the form of nephrite only. It is called Greenstone in NZ, though the native Maori people refer to it as Pounamu. Jadeite is mostly found on Chinese border, while nephrite is found more commonly in NZ, Australia, Canada, Russia, and in small quantities in many other parts of the world. The most basic difference between jadeite and nephrite is that despite both being silicates, the minerals found in both are different. Jadeite is composed of silicates of aluminum and sodium, whereas nephrites are silicates of calcium and magnesium.
Talking of differences, jadeite is rarer of the two, and is lighter in color also. On the other hand, greenstone or nephrite is darker in color, and has much more variations in color than jadeite. Preference for jadeite and greenstone is a matter of personal choice as well as cultural significance. Maori people believe it is greenstone that is much more valuable, while in Asian cultures, it is jadeite that is considered more valuable.
The reason why jade is called greenstone in New Zealand is because European travelers, when they reached NZ, found native Maori women adorning themselves with green colored stone that was nothing else but jade. But Europeans did not know about the existence of jade at that time. Thus, the name greenstone that they gave to the stone stuck, and is still famous in New Zealand. While Maori people referred to it as Pounamu, Europeans called it Greenstone and this dichotomy still exists. But the fact remains that this greenstone is nothing else but nephrite, a form of jade that is found in a few more countries.