Nephrite is close relative of Jade and through the centuries there has been a lot of confusion between the two stones. The main practical difference is that Jade forms from the mineral Jadeite, whereas Nephrite forms from either Tremolite or Actinolite. In its pure state Nephrite is white, but the chemical impurities present when the stone forms cause a range of colors, from creamy white to yellow, brown, green, blue or black; the presence of iron is responsible for the rich green shades that we usually associate with Jade.
Nephrite has been mined and worked in China, India and South America for thousands of years. In the last century European deposits of Nephrite have been discovered in Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands and Italy. Canada has what is believed to be the world's largest Nephrite deposits and produces a very hard, fine grade stone with excellent color.
The conditions necessary for Nephrite and Jade to form are rare, therefore the stones themselves are relatively rare and good quality specimens have a high market value. Although Nephrite and Jade are almost identical, Nephrite is a little more common and therefore tends to have a lower value than Jade. If you see Jade or Nephrite being sold with a trade name such as 'New Jade', 'Indian Jade', 'Burmese Jade' or 'Mexican Jade' it is either fake (Aventurine, Chrysoprase and dyed Agate are often passed off as Jade) or poor quality stone that has been dyed to enhance its color. Because Nephrite is tougher, more common and slightly less expensive than Jade it is the preferred material for carvings and pendants. As a general rule of thumb a Jade carving should be more expensive than a Nephrite carving, but be aware that Nephrite is usually labelled 'Jade' and sold at an inflated price.
Nephrite Jade is a tough and durable stone that has been associated with perfection and immortality for thousands of years. Jade is inextricably linked to ancient Chinese culture, where it was considered a sacred stone and esteemed above all others. Most Chinese Jade is Nephrite, called 'Yu' or 'Stone of China' and valued as highly as Diamonds are in the western world. The Supreme God in ancient Chinese mythology is the Jade Emperor Yu-hang-shang-ti and the Moon Hare ground Nephrite into his potion of immortality. A symbol of virtue and beauty, Nephrite had the power to protect against evil, accidents, malice and ill-wishing while also increasing serenity, peace of mind and balance.
In New Zealand the stone is known to the Native Maoris as Pounamu, 'Green Stone', and is believed to be a sacred healing stone. In 1997 a landmark legal ruling known as the Ngai Tahu Pounamu Vesting Act gave ownership of all naturally occurring pounamu back to the native peoples of New Zealand.
Working with Nephrite is believed to increase your health and endurance, both physically and spiritually, and encourages growth and progress in the material and magical worlds. A traditional Chinese potion made with a mixture of ground Nephrite, rice and dew water, was believed to strengthen the muscles, harden the bones, calm the mind, enrich the flesh and purify the blood. Modern crystal healers use Nephrite to strengthen the kidneys and promote elimination of toxins from the body. The stone has gained a reputation of being especially effective for healing kidney disorders.
Nephrite is an Earth stone, associated with growth, plenty and prosperity. Handling the stone every day is said to ensure that your wealth will increase and business owners are often advised to keep a piece in their cash register to help draw more money through their doors. Meditation with Nephrite can help to raise your prosperity consciousness, making you aware of the many blessings that surround you and receptive to new opportunities for growth and advancement.