What is with all the different names for Jade?

Posted by Zoe Brock on

New Zealand Jade, Greenstone, and Pounamu are all terms for the same thing - the green-coloured stone used in New Zealand's famous Maori carvings. It is a very hard, durable and highly valued stone used for making jewellery, tools and weapons -and it is only found in the South Island of New Zealand.

These are the names given to this stone:

  • Pounamu - traditional Maori name
  • Greenstone - common everyday term used in New Zealand
  • New Zealand Jade - a term used in gemology

Variations of Jade are found in other places of the world, yes.

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.

Jade is the common word for nephrite. It is used worldwide and is specific.

Jadeite is a semi precious stone. It doesn’t occur naturally in New Zealand.  It is harder than Nephrite and comes in a range of colours a little different. Along with white and green, jadeite comes in reds, lavenders and yellows. 


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