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The Color of Jade


An Excellent Green Jade earrings

Hi Uncle Arthur,

Reading the new articles, I have some questions. Can you help me with those?

“Old Mine Jade normally refers to those Jadeite Jade which has a vivid deep emerald green.  This type of green is caused by chromium and it is very pleasing to the eyes.  Those garden variety darkish green are caused by ferrous and there are very common and can be purchased very cheaply.”

I understand this but I can’t imagine what exactly “darkish green” in here. Can you give some photos for example?

Can you make something like a rank list for the color of jade bases on their value? I understand that there are many factors which affect to the value of a jade piece, but the color is one of the factors I don’t really get how to value them.

Thanks uncle! Really appreciate for your kindness.


Hello Ivan

Color in a jade piece is one of the important factors determining the value of a jade.

According to some research on the perception of color, our naked eyes actually can differentiate as much as 10 million tints of color.  (I am not sure how this number came about).

The color in jade is determined by 3 factors.  These factors are hue, tone and saturation.

Hue refers to the vividness of color within the jade piece.  Hue in its simplest term refers to as ‘pure’ color.  In the theory of color there are 4 hues, that is, red, green, blue and yellow.  If the hue is vivid then each of these 4 types of color stands by itself individually.  Say, a high desirable green color jade has only green with no variation of other color. Hence, the more vivid the color of a jade the better the quality.

Tone refers to the brightness and lightness of a jade piece.  Hence the color green may be bright green or light green.

Saturation is the intensity of the color within the jade.

An Imperial green jade as viewed under a microscope

It may be difficult to give an accurate description of what constitutes a desirable color in terms of the 3 factors above.  The best lesson is from experience.  I have gone through a lot of costly lessons in learning what is the most desirable green color, as an ‘Imperial’ green color jade may be very pricey while the garden variety green is very cheap.  Dealers may use the following terms in describing the color green: imperial green, spinach green, pea green, apple green, dark green or light green.  These are generic description and is translated directly from Chinese to English.

A vivid green jade cabochon. Pix was taken under natural daylight

As jade dealers we evaluate jade under natural daylight.  In tropical countries like Burma, the best hours are between 10am to 3pm.  Natural lighting before 10am and after 3pm is too diffused.  In retail environment where you buy jade pieces under halogen or chandelier’s lighting, the jade piece will look much better.  Remember also that although yellow is not exactly complimentary color to green, a green jade under halogen lighting looks much brighter and greener than in natural lighting condition.

Garden variety green jade cabochons

Hence, if you are buying some jade pieces try to view the color of the jade under natural daylight.

Here, I posted some photos of what is actually a ‘lively’ green which gives the jade its value.  Those pictures with jadeitejade.com watermarks are my own collection.

This green jade cab is dull and 'dead'

There is no ranking of colors in determining the color of jade, as the scope is too wide to be really exact.  We do not use the color model of Munsell or Pantone as references.

Thank you Ivan

A.Arthur Lau

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I am a Graduate Gemologist trained at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York City, USA. I hold an MBA degree from Cranfield University, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor degree in Mathematics. My earlier profession was a banker until I found jade in Myanmar (Burma) in the early 90s. I have traveled to the fabled Hpakan Jade mines, and Mogok, the world’s famous rubies and sapphires mines in upper Burma, with my second son. Three of my children are also Graduate Gemologist, GIA, NYC and they deal in diamonds, gemstones and jade. 我是在美国纽约市的美国宝石学院(GIA)接受过培训的宝石研究学家。 我拥有英国克兰菲尔德大学的工商管理硕士学位和数学学士学位。我以前的职业是银行家,直到90年代初我在缅甸接触到玉石。我曾经和我的次子一起去过缅甸上流传说中的哈帕翡翠矿山和莫谷矿山, 莫谷矿山是世界上著名的红宝石和蓝宝石矿山。我的三个孩子都是纽约市GIA毕业的宝石研究学家, 他们专门处理钻石,宝石和玉石.


  1. Old Mine jade is a trade term commonly used by Chinese to describe dark green jade, and the color is caused by chromium. White or lavender color is usually not described as old mine. You have to be careful on the representation given by sellers.

    Thanks Miranda


  2. Very informative blog! I have seen jadeite described as “old mine” by sellers when it is not green at all (white or lavender). Have these sellers mislabeled their jade? Or is it possible for jadeite to be “old mine” and not green?

  3. Hello Ivan, thanks for your support. If you have questions on jade or gemstones please drop me an email. You are always welcome.

  4. Thank you for the useful post!

    I got some ideas in my mind now, although it’s still not really clear. Hope to see more posts about Jade, so I can learn more.


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