Jade, Pounamu or Greenstone, what’s the difference?

What’s the difference?

Greenstone / Pounamu / Jade are often the same thing from different angles.

Pounamu is the Maori word for NZ Jade but Tangiwai (Bowenite – a translucent Serpentine) and some other Serpentine’s are also included under Pounamu. Tangiwai is 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 can be confusing in nature as we have a lot of “green” stones.

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 so is usually more expensive (both raw stone and finished carvings) than Nephrite. It is also 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.

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

pounamu ruru
Pounamu Ruru (Nephrite)
jadeite eagle ray
Guatemalan blue jadeite eagle ray
Pounamu Rolled leaf
wyoming jade
Wyoming USA Nephrite
Pounamu Huia
siberian jade
Siberian Nephrite