Smectites synthesized from experiments at 5.5 GPa and 1500°C are of high quality, crystals are large at >10 μm, and the 2:1 layers may have a homogeneous charge distribution. Smectite was exchanged with various cations (Na+, Li+, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+) and the hydration behavior of each sample was observed by an in situ powder X-ray diffraction method under precisely controlled relative humidity (RH). The smectite showed distinct stepwise (discontinuous) hydration versus RH. During the transition between two hydration states, the coexistence of the two states was observed. Randomly interstratified structures with one and two planes of H2O are time-dependent phenomena and relate to hydration and dehydration processes.