Buying Jade can be an exercise in anxiety. There are so many types of jade-like materials floating around that sometimes it seems safer to just avoid buying Jade at all. That’s why we have put together this article to help you know how to purchase the ‘real thing’.
Jade refers to either or both of two different types of silicate minerals: Jadeite and nephrite. Jade has a deep history in Chinese and other Asian cultures; it was cherished by royal dynasties for centuries for its beauty, luster, rarity, and the ability for the gemstone to be carved.
Image courtesy GIA.edu
As early as 3000 B.C.E, Jade was known in China as ‘yu’, the ‘royal gem’. The ancient philosopher Confucius said the brightness of Jade represents the purity and virtue of heaven. The traditional ‘bi’ Jade piece – a flat, disc-shaped circle with a centred hole – symbolises heaven in Chinese mythology.
This jadeite “Peiyao” (Chinese Fu dog) represent mythological creatures that guard and protect celestial palaces and entrances. Image courtesy GIA.edu & Sophie Leu
The Māori people of New Zealand also have a historical and cultural attachment to nephrite jade which they call Pounamu, which means ‘greenstone’. Other stones like Bowenite and Serpentinite are also considered to be Pounamu, but jadeite is preferred.
Jade believed to represent purity and purification as it is believed to support ‘loving heart energy’ in Feng Shui practice. It also said to symbolise gentleness, balance and harmony which is why it has been a popular gemstone in Asian cultures.
Nephrite and Jadeite are metamorphic rocks crafted with minute interlocking crystals. The close intertwining crystals make these minerals extremely tough. Jadeite is available in a wide array of colours ranging from lighter shades of grey, white to vibrant hues of yellow, orangish red, green, red and the highly sought-after green.
Jadeite jade comes in a variety of colours. Green is the most valuable. Image courtesy GIA.edu & Mason-Kay Fine Jade Jewelry
The colouration of Jadeite is frequently patterned and streaked, lending gemstones a fascinating visual texture. This interesting feature has been effectively used by artisans to create clever and imaginative effects.
Nephrite carvings have been popular in China for centuries. Image courtesy GIA.edu & China Gems.
Nephrite is also considered to be Jade. The mineral ranges in shades of dark and light green, grey, brown and white. Compared to Jadeite, the colours of nephrite are more muted and streaked in nature. The gemstone can be opaque as well as translucent.
The quality of Jade is determined by its colour, texture, transparency, cut, and carat weight. The finest Jade is an attractive vivid green. The value of a particular piece of Jade also depends on its fine texture and semi-translucent clarity.
‘Imperial Jade, which is considered to be the best quality Jade, is nearly transparent and is a glorious emerald-green shade. The transparency in Jadeite can vary from lucid semi-transparent to entirely opaque with superior transparency demanding the highest value.
A smooth, silky, and even texture of Jade inspires one to touch and hold the stone. When it comes to cut, Jade is almost never cut into facets unlike other gemstones. Jade carvings whether intricate or simple are assessed according to their artistry. More than carat weight, the value of Jade is judged individually depending on the overall colour and quality.
The slightest of differences in size in fine-quality imperial Jade makes a major difference in value. If you are looking for a top Jade specimen, the most critical criterion should be colour.
When buying Jade, other than using a reputable jeweller or dealer, you can use some industry tips to help you out. It is said that when you hold a piece of Jade in your hand it should feel cold, smooth and like soap. It should also take a while for the piece of Jade to warm up.
You can also hold it up to the light and look at the internal structure with a X10 loupe, if you see fibrous intertwining structures then it is most probably genuine Jadeite or Nephrite. If you see something that looks like ‘layers’ then it means the piece of Jade has been made up of a thin layer of gem-quality Jadeite glued onto another type of stone.
The world’s largest supply of Jadeite comes from Myanmar. The finest Jade can be sold at a minimum of US$4,000 per ounce, making this mineral far more expensive than gold.
This butterfly pin has wings carved from fine lavender jadeite. The butterfly symbolises long life. Image courtesy GIA.edu & Mason-Kay Fine Jade Jewelry. The simple elegance of the disk-shaped Chinese eternity symbol, or bi, carries great spiritual significance for many Asians. Image courtesy GIA.edu & Mason-Kay Fine Jade Jewelry
If you are not aiming for the finest or the largest piece of this stone, you can find Jade artefacts or single stones within a reasonable price range. However, figuring out the precise value of a piece of Jade’s worth is more about experience and art rather than relying on technology.
If you are interested in buying quality Jade jewellery, check out our stunning Yu Collection.
To have your own bespoke piece of jewellery either remade, or created new, call us at +65 6733 4100, visit our atelier at #05-04 International Building, 360 Orchard Road, Singapore 238869; or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.