Jade is a term used for two different metamorphic rocks that are very similar to each other. Nephrite jade is composed of minerals of the amphibole series. Jadeite is composed of minerals of the pyroxene series. Amphiboles and hornblendes are very similar, they are both composed to some ration of iron and magnesium with silica and oxygen. Amphibole also has some calcium or sodium and water in the structure. Up until the 19th century, it was not recognized that jade was really two minerals. Jade typically forms during mountain building associated with subduction zones, wherre oceanic crust is sinking under continental crust. The high pressures and temperatures in this area result in the formation of hornblende first and pyroxene with greater pressure and temperature.

Jade can bea wide range of colors, with the most common being some shade of green, but black and white are also common varieties. The best jade is translucent.

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