For centuries, the word jade applied to green gemstones brought to Europe from China and Central America. It wasn't until 1863 that society realized the term "jade" was being applied to two different minerals. These two semiprecious gemstones, nephrite and jadeite, are relatively hard to distinguish from each other, and so even today both are still called jade. Varieties of serpentine have also been confused with jade throughout history, and some serpentine is also still called jade. In fact, the Chinese word for jade, yĆ¹, is applied to a variety of minerals, including serpentine, agate and quartz! In other words, all true jade (jadeite and nephrite) is yĆ¹, but not all yĆ¹ is what Westerners consider true jade. Our semiprecious jade beads include true jades, serpentine beads, and beads called "jade" descriptively (because they look like jade). Choose from African jade, antiqued jade, BC jade, new jade, olive jade, yellow jade and more! Jade semiprecious beads and pendants are said to increase longevity, and are a symbol of love and virtue.