How To Identify California Jade (A Beginner’s Guide)

Jade is a gorgeous stone that is best known for its deep green color and marbling.

This stone has long been used in healing, jewelry and more and is a fantastic addition to any collection.

California Jade is a wonderful option or collectors and we are going to talk about how to identify it, a bit of background, and the best way to determine if you have California Jade or some other green rock.

How To Identify California Jade (EXPLAINED)

What is California Jade?

California jade, as the name would suggest, is a type of jade that is most often found in the state of California.

This is a type of black nephrite jade that is also called ink jade in some cases.

California jade is also called jadeite, nephrite or botryoidal jade and is rare.

It is most often found in riverbeds and outcroppings of older stone formations in the state of California.

This jade is often very deep in color if it is not black.

See Also, How Much Is Black Jade Worth?

This type of jade is also named Boots black jade, after the prospector that first discovered it, Howard Boots.

This type of jade is exceedingly rare which means that if you have an authentic piece, you do have a great stone on your hands that may be worth some money.

California jade is graded much like a diamond is.

Stone cutters an appraisers take into account the color of the jade, is it solid black, are there flecks of green or gray in it, or is it fully black and very deep in color.

The blacker the stone, the more it is worth.

Another aspect to keep in mind is the clarity.

This is a stone that can be different levels of opaqueness. Type 3 is the most desirable and shows no inclusions and is fully opaque.

It is ideal for jade to have a very smooth, glassy surface with no damage or issues and it should be very black.

Stone that is cut into beads is the most common use of this stone and is a gorgeous use.

They can also be carved into ornamental figures, stones for jewelry and more.

Since this is not a stone that is hard to come by if you know where to look, carat size does not have a large bearing on the value of the stone.

Why is California Jade Hard to Identify?

California jade is really jadeite and it is easily mixed up with stones like onyx and agate if you do find a piece that has inclusions and rippling.

It can look like many other stones and without expensive tests you may not know for certain that you have California jade and not some other stone on your hands.

This stone, when not polished can look like any other river rock that you have seen laying on the beach.

This is a stone that is also often found on the beach so it can be hard to spot among the other rocks that you are hunting.

California jade, despite the name, it not actually jade, this means you are not going to be looking for bright green rocks.

Instead, it is a form of jadeite.

One tip for hunting for California jade is to take a pocket knife or sharp tool with you.

Serpentine, another rock that California jade is often mistaken for, is much softer than the jadeite.

This stone will gouge or scrape very easily if you use a knife or other sharp instrument to scratch it.

Jadeite is not going to scratch and will only have a faint mark from the knife.

If you are looking for typical green jade, you can also find this in California.

Colored jade that an be found in California is often translucent in color and can come in different colors from typical green to blue or even vulcanized jade.

Jade is easily mistaken for agate when you do find it in nature as it can have the striping that is common in agate on the surface.

California is rich in gems with sapphire, malachite, diamonds, kunzite and more just to name a few naturally occurring in the state.

If you are hunting for California Boots Jade you want to look for very black stones with very few, if any color differences in the surface.

You want a stone that is very black, has very few inclusions, and that has a smooth surface.

If you are looking for jadeite or nephrite jade you want to look for a vibrant green color, there may bubbles and ridges, the stone can be translucent in color as well.

Tips for Telling if you Have California Jade

The best method for finding if you have jade or not is to take a look at the stone itself.

With black jade or Boots jade it is going to be black in color.

It will not have any inner inclusions showing and it is going to be very hard.

Jade is a very hard stone, be it nephrite or jadeite and you can test the stone by scratching it with a steel nail or knife.

If the stone scratches, it is not jade.

You can also look at where you found it.

Boots jade is only found in three very specific locations.

Green jade can be found along and on the beaches in California.

Jade that you find on the beach is going to be green or blue and is a gorgeous stone.

These stones are going to be small in size if you are finding them on the beach as many of them have been tumbled in the water.

At best, California jade is difficult to identify positively and to prove without a doubt what you have unless you do get the tests to prove it.

You can send your stone for testing to prove that it is California jade.

If you are looking to do an at home identification you want to look for a stone that is very dark in color if you are looking for boots jade.

You want a stone that is very hard and that cannot be scratched, and you are looking for a stone with minimal marbling or minimal color.

If you want to be 100% sure the only way to do that is to get testing done on the stone or to purchase from a reputable stone dealer.

Boots black jade is a fun take on the traditional green jade that we have all seen and love and is a great stone to hunt for if you want something really special and different as opposed to other jades.

It helps to determine what type of jade you want to look for before you set out hunting so that you know what to look for and where to look.

Green jade found on the coast is going to be smooth and often small round pebbles that have been polished by the surf.

Traditional green jade is most often found on beaches and along the coast while boots jade is a bit harder to get.

This is a fun stone that is absolutely gorgeous and that would be a fantastic addition to any stone collection or any jewelry collection as well.

California Rockhounding Resources

If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:

Rockhounding California: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites

Gem Trails of Southern California

Gem Trails of Northern California

Smithsonian Rocks and Minerals Identification Guide

Disclosure: These are links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Wrap Up

We have a trip to go rockhounding near Sacramento planned soon, we’ll let you know how it goes!

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How To Identify California Jade