Greenstone / Pounamu / Jade are often the same thing from different angles.
Pounamu is the Maori word for Jade but Tangiwai (Bowenite – a translucent Serpentine) is also Pounamu. Tangiwai is another translucent green stone we have in New Zealand and is very similar to Jade though more fragile. I would use Pounamu to describe New Zealand Jade or Tangiwai.
“Greenstone” is the term Captain Cook used to describe Maori Jade carvings. It’s a term that is only used in New Zealand/Australia and is confusing in nature as we have a lot of “green” stones. I don’t normally use the term greenstone.
Jade is the common word for nephrite. It is used worldwide and is specific. Internationally the term Jade is used for two different stones – Nephrite and Jadeite. In New Zealand all our Jade is Nephrite but overseas the term Jade could be used for either depending on where you are.
Jadeite is a semi precious stone. It is harder than Nephrite so takes longer to carve and finish. It comes in a range of colours a little different than Nephrite. Along with white and green, jadeite comes in reds, lavenders and yellows.
– I would use Pounamu to describe NZ Jade (Nephrite) + some high quality Serpentine’s.
– I don’t normally use the term Greenstone but it should mean the same as Pounamu.
– Jade could refer to Pounamu or other jades from overseas (Nephrite and Jadeite).
More articles on jade carving
– Can Pounamu only be gifted, is it ok to buy a piece for yourself?
– Cloud fractures or cracks, what’s the difference?
– Jade carving, who do you work for?
– Hand shaped jade beads