Jadeite is white or green and rarely purple; sometimes all three colors are seen within a single piece. Translucent, emerald-green jadeite, colored by chromium, is called imperial jade and is the most precious of all jade. Jade is valued for its color and also its toughness, or resistance to breaking. The latter property has made jade useful historically for making weapons and tools, as well as for delicate carvings. This small (13.7 carat) carved piece of imperial jade from Burma shows excellent color and translucency.
The internal arrangement of jadeite crystals makes jade tough, allowing it to be carved into delicate shapes like the vase above. Jade is valued for its color: traces of chromium impart the brilliant green; manganese produces the mauve and lilac shades; and the white parts are impurity-free. The Jade Dragon Vase stands 50cm (19.7in) tall and is carved of rare lavender jadeite from Burma. The carving is modern but of unknown origin. It was a gift of Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post.