Did you know that General Electric successfully synthesized Jadeite?
Jade has been prized since ancient times and is truly one of a kind. Its history contains captivating tales steeped in fascination and mystery. The two minerals that make up this precious gemstone are distinguished by their rarity – while Nephrite is more prevalent, the rarer form of Jade comes from its counterpart: jadeite.
Gem and mineral enthusiasts have successfully created synthetic alternatives to some of their favorite stones; however, replicating nephrite is still an unsolved challenge. Even though jadeite has been successfully synthesized in labs, it is not yet available on the commercial market.
Scientists have been trying to synthesize jadeite since the 1880s and were not successful until 1984 when General Electric (GE) researchers R. C. DeVries and J. F. Fleischer successfully created synthetic Jadeite and documented it.
For over a century, scientists had attempted to produce synthetic jadeite without success – until finally, in 1984, General Electric (GE) R. C. DeVries and J. F Fleischer successfully synthesized Jadeite.
In the document, A Study of the General Electric Synthetic Jadeite, the authors Kurt Nassau and James Shigley analyzed the properties of synthetic green and lavender Jadeite. For natural Jadeite, green and lavender are the top-valued colors of this gemstone.DeVries and Fleischer produced white, various shades of green, to black and lavender Jadeite in cylindrical pieces up to 12 millimeters in diameter and three millimeters in thickness.
The study dives into the challenges of synthesizing Jadeite, the General Electric experiment, and the gemological properties of nine specimens of the synthetic gem material.
The report noted that the synthetic Jadeite analyzed is an experimental product and “is not likely to be encountered on a commercial basis.” So, although GE synthesized Jadeite, for now, at least, it is not commercially available.
You may come across Jade at gem and mineral or trade shows labeled as synthetic Jade, and if you do, know that this is different. GE hasn’t produced synthetic Jadeite commercially, and there are no other known manufacturers to have successfully created this gem material in a laboratory.
The so-called synthetic Jade you may encounter is most likely a lookalike or a simulant–gem material that may resemble natural Jadeite or Nephrite but are neither. These can be glass pieces or different minerals such as serpentine. One thing I’ve often noticed is that green aventurine is often mistaken for Jade, as well.
It’s quite remarkable that General Electric has successfully synthesized Jadeite- a feat that few have tried and succeeded in reproducing. While this synthetic version is not currently available for sale, it remains an impressive and yet, oddly fascinating accomplishment.