What is Type A Jade?

In our online store, we exclusively stock jadeite that have no treatments applied to them. This is always emphasised in our product descriptions and in this post, a more detailed explanation of the term Type A is delved into. The objective is to explain the main differences between natural jadeite and treated jadeite to provide a better understanding of our collection of jadeite jewellery.

Introduction - Treatments and Untreated Jade

Jade generally comprises of 2 main kinds of minerals, jadeite and nephrite. Nephrite is typically only categorised as natural or treated. Jadeite is slightly more complicated with different categories of treatments applied to achieve various results. The various degrees of treatments are as follows:

  1. Type A: Natural jadeite without treatment except for surface waxing.
  2. Type B: Chemically bleached & polymer impregnated jadeite.
  3. Type C: Dyed jadeite.
  4. Type B + C: Polymer impregnated and dyed jadeite.

This categorisation is typically used by laboratories in their analysis of jadeite with the use of specialised equipment. In our collection, only natural jadeite is stocked and this relates to Type A jadeite in the classification above. A common misinterpretation of the term Type A is that it refers to the quality of the jadeite. Any jadeite, regardless of its quality, can be termed as Type A as long as no chemical treatments have been applied to the jadeite material. Thus the term does not equate to a fine quality jadeite and bears no correlation to a jadeite’s quality. The term simply defines the natural state, devoid of chemical enhancements, of the jadeite.

Reason For Treatments

Natural jadeite can be found in a wide range of quality and this is affected by various factors mainly: Colour, translucency and clarity. The reason for treating jadeite with various and increasingly innovative methods is basic. The demand for a jadeite jewellery with good saturated colour, high translucency and good clarity is extremely high. The availability of such fine jadeite pieces, however, is extremely low. The high demand and low supply results in ever increasing prices for fine jadeite specimens. This also fuels the innovations for jadeite treatments that enhance the quality of natural jadeite to achieve the desired look of fine jadeite but at far lower costs. Chemical treatments are able to be applied in various fashions to enhance colour whilst removing imperfections of poorer quality jadeite and all of this is done in bulk, thus allowing for a much cheaper alternative to fine natural jadeite.

Distinction of Type A Jadeite

Fine natural jadeite with good colour, translucency and clarity is rare and difficult to obtain. This rarity and the high demands from jadeite collectors all over the world result in high prices for fine jadeite jewellery.

A lesser discussed factor in the high pricing is the integrity and thus increased durability of fine Type A jadeite jewellery without flaws. Chemical enhancements applied to jadeite are severely damaging to the jadeite material. In many various treatments, the integrity of the jadeite material is affected. For example, in Type B jadeite, bleaching is the first step in removing brown inclusions within jadeite and this is usually performed using highly acidic chemicals which dissolve the impurities that cause the unsightly discolourations. The bleached jadeite becomes brittle because the removal of materials also leaves voids within the jadeite material. Bleached jadeite of the lowest qualities are reportedly so soft that finger pressure alone, is able to crush the bleached jadeite. Bleached jadeite is therefore often filled with resin to hold the jadeite material together. Naturally, jadeite is a durable mineral and jewellery carved from natural jadeite can last many generations. Jadeite has one of the highest toughness in natural minerals and chemical treatments as such reduces this sought after quality in jadeite.

As a last note, a fine quality, natural Type A jadeite makes for an invaluable investment jewellery due to the factors covered above. Demand for this beautiful material is ever increasing and as with natural minerals and gemstones, fine jadeite makes up a very tiny proportion of the available jadeite material in the market. The scarcity accompanied by its natural durability makes fine jadeite extremely worthwhile to keep.