An introduction to jades, jade types, jadeite varieties, jadeite valuation and jadeite classifications.
Jade is often called the 'Stone of Heaven' and has long been regarded by the Chinese as the most precious gemstone of all. The finest jade is more expensive than diamond on a per carat basis. It is believed that jade possesses healing power against certain diseases as well as the power to ward off bad luck and evil.
Jade sold in the market falls into two types: jadeite (菲翠) and nephrite. Both share common characteristics but are different in chemical composition and material properties. Of the two, jadeite is rarer and more valuable.
Jadeite is mostly found in Burma and is also known as Burmese jade. Outside Burma, jadeite is found in smaller supplies and in very few places in the world. In fact diamond is found in more places than jadeite. As a result there is a saying that jadeite is rarer than diamond.
The rising affluence in China has given rise to an exponential demand for jadeite in both China and outside China. The supply of jadeite has been on a decline due to its limited source of supply and jadeite takes millions of year to form. These factors have caused the price of jadeite to increase rapidly. In fact the price of jadeite has gone up by 600 to 1000 times since 50s and the price can only go up with the passage of time.
Jadeites are often classified according to variety. Jadeites sold in the market fall into four broad varieties: glassy (玻璃種), icy (冰種), non-icy (糯種) and omphacite (black jadeite 墨翠), please see jade collection. Non-icy is the most common variety followed by icy, omphacite and glassy variety. In the market, glassy jadeites and omphacites are the most expensive, followed by icy jadeites and non-icy jadeites. A glassy jadeite is one with translucency close to glass. An icy jadeite is one with translucency close to ice. A jadeite of non-icy variety is one with translucency below ice. Lastly, omphacites are jadeites that appear black.
Most gemstones are sold and evaluated in terms of their carat weight. Jadeite, on the other hand, is sold by piece and is evaluated based on the assessment of its quality. Unlike diamond which is graded on the 4Cs, there is no such international grading system for jadeite. It is commonly accepted that a jadeite value depends on the following factors:
Jadeite can appear in white, green, pink, lavender and in many other colours. The colour of jadeite is affected by the presence of trace elements such as chromium and iron. The quality of colour is an important factor influencing the value of a jadeite. A jadeite with vivid hue, saturated and vibrant colour is considered to have the best quality colour. The most sought after colours are green, white and lavender. A jadeite with even colour of vivid saturated green is rare and expensive.
Jadeite can appear opaque to transparent. The more translucent a jadeite, the more valuable. Jadeite with glass-like clarity is considered to have the best translucency. Such glass-like translucency is rare and very expensive.
Texture refers to the composition of the grains within a jadeite. The texture can be fine, medium or coarse. The texture affects the appearance of a jadeite. A jadeite with fine texture will have good luster and does not look 'dry'. In general the finer the texture, the more expensive the jadeite.
Jadeite is often made into pendant with different carvings and designs. The cravings and designs are assessed on aesthetics and workmanship. A jadeite with beautiful craving is an eye beholder and a piece of art. Beautiful craving and workmanship can enhance the value of a jadeite.
When evaluating a jadeite, all four factors must be taken together. A good quality jadeite piece not only has good colour, it also has good translucency, texture and cut. Jadeites are natural stones, jadeites with good colour, translucency and texture are rare and very expensive. No two jadeite pieces are the same on the first three factors. Each jadeite piece is a unique stone with varying colour, translucency, texture and cut.
Since the beginning of 1980s, the demand for quality jadeites has outstripped supply. To meet demand, jadeite manufacturers treat lower quality jadeites to sell them as quality jadeites. To help differentiate between treated jadeites and non-treated jadeites, jadeites are now classified into Type A, B, C and D. This is an international classification for jadeites used in the industry.
Type A Jadeite (Natural Jadeite)
Type A jadeite is natural, untreated jadeite. The jadeite is 100% natural in colour and composition. It is normal for a Type A jadeite to have impurities in the colour. Type A jadeite is not the same as good quality jadeite which is defined by Colour, Translucency, Texture and Cut. A Type A jadeite can be a quality jade but a quality jade may not be a Type A jadeite. Only Type A jadeite has collector value.
Type B Jadeite
Type B jadeite is natural jadeite having undergone a process of acid treatment to remove 'impurities' to improve the appearance or the colour of the jadeite. Type B jadeite is often impregnated with resin to 'fill out' the voids caused by the acid treatment. A Type B jadeite will eventually lose its colour and turns out yellow. It is also not durable because of the acid treatment which destroys the internal structure of the jadeite.
Type C Jadeite
Type C jadeite is natural jadeite dyed to enhance the colour. A Type C jadeite is not durable and will eventually lose its brilliant colour.
Type D Jadeite
Type D jadeite is natural jadeite that has undergone the treatment process of Type B and Type C.
Type A, B, C and D jadeites are all real jadeites except that Type B, C and D jadeites are not 100% natural jadeites.
To buy beautiful natural jadeites, please visit jade collection.