Nephrite is part of the Jade family and the term is used to distinguish it from jadite. Though similar in properties, nephrite is both more rare and more durable. That is why it was used in primitive times to fashion tools such as knives, clubs, and axes and used in modern times to adorn the body when worn as a gemstone.
When considering nephrite whether for jewelry or as a carving, remember that there are many gemstones that imitate nephrite. But the problem is they are not as durable. So be sure and stay with a reputable jeweler or carver when shopping for items made of nephrite.
Because nephrite is relatively abundant worldwide, it is not a costly gemstone. The price of nephrite carvings, however, can vary significantly depending on the quality of the artisan.
The Chinese have prized the nephrite variety of jade more than any other gemstone. For over 3000 years they carved flat discs with a central hole, termed pi, from nephrite to worship heaven.