Nephrite is one of the varieties of jade; it is more opaque and cheaper than jadeite. It can be found in eggshell white, black, brown, golden, and various shade of green, including forest green; the last is the most valuable. It is more commonly used for carvings but can also be found in jewelry -- in cabochons, beads, or as the background for cameo jewelry. And just because something is nephrite rather than jadeite doesn't mean it's any less "real jade" -- some beautiful things can be made from nephrite.

Contrary to popular belief, traditional Chinese jade is not the apple green jadeite. When jade is referred to in Chinese literature and history, it is usually nephrite. Nephrite is softer and easier to carve than jade, and nearly everything has been made out of it at some point or other. The traditional betrothal gifts of a Chinese couple were a nephrite butterfly (for the boy) and a nephrite hair ornament (for the girl). The most commonly seen color of nephrite is probably the soft white/light green. Easily mistaken for the lesser serpentine, athough the Chinese word for "jade" is really a generic term that includes nephrite, serpentine, jadeite, and even agate, jasper, and other common stones.

Neph"rite [Cf. F. n'ephrite. See Nephritis.] Min.

A hard compact mineral, of a dark green color, formerly worn as a remedy for diseases of the kidneys, whence its name; kidney stone; a kind of jade. See Jade.

<-- varies in color from white to dark green. It is the more common and less valuable variety of jade, the other being jadeite. [MW10] Large deposits are found in Australia. Called also nephritic stone. -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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