Your Essential Guide to Buying Jade Jewellery
The term ‘jade’ generally includes both nephrite and jadeite. When we talk about Jade in fine jewellery, we are referring to Jadeite, which is mainly found in Burma. Natural Jade is found in a variety of colours from shades of orange to red, black, white, lilac as well as the most precious and traditionally-known colour, green.
Why would I want to buy Jade Jewellery?
Jade has historically played an important role in Chinese culture. Regarded as more precious than gold and silver, jade is a symbol of goodness and beauty. To the Chinese, jade is the embodiment of the Confucian virtues of courage, wisdom, modesty, justice and compassion. The polish and brilliance of jade stone is representative of purity while its compactness and hardness reflect intelligence. Justice is represented by its angles, and the sound produced by it when it is struck is a symbol of music. The color of jade stone depicts loyalty while its flaws reflect sincerity.
The Chinese also value jade stone because of its brightness; representing heaven, while its substance is representative of the earth. Peranakan “Straits Chinese” culture in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore reflect this traditional appreciation for all types of jadeite, and many of the most treasured antique pieces from the region feature jade.
Jade is also prized for what is referred to as its ‘water content’ in Chinese. The fine crystalline structure of natural jadeite enables rays of light to penetrate the stone more easily to create translucency. This creates a reflection and refraction, causing the viewer to see something like water inside the stone itself, which is what makes translucent jade so beautiful and desirable.
How do I select a good quality piece of Jade?
Quality of precious jadeite is based on the purity of colour, translucency and texture. Slight variances in any of these qualities can substantially affect the value. A beautiful pure green highly translucent piece of jade that has fine texture is very rare in nature, reflecting its true scarcity and a justifiably higher price.
How is Jade valued?
Rarity and value are directly co-related. Simply put, the rarer the piece, the more valuable it is. Rarity is based on size, thickness, colour, translucency and texture. For example, a natural jadeite bangle of an even apple green colour, translucent and with fine texture can easily cost upwards of SGD$50,000. In comparison, a natural jadeite bangle of similar size, which is mainly off-white with a patch of light green, more opaque and with larger pores, can be had for under SGD2,000. Evaluating natural jade is a complex issue with many factors that need to be taken into consideration. It is not easy to compare pieces unless you can place them side by side to see the differences.
How do I tell if it’s real or fake?
Because natural jade is so valuable, there are plenty of fakes available and unfortunately it is not easy to tell real jade from fake. There are different levels of treatment: “A” grade jade refers to 100% natural, untreated jadeite. “B” grade jade indicates that it is a natural jadeite stone, but has undergone some treatment to enhance the appearance of the jade, improving the colour and translucency. “C” grade jade refers to natural jadeite that has undergone treatment with the addition of colour enhancement (dye).
Interestingly, it is quite common for pieces that are passed off as natural jadeite to be something else altogether. Nephrite jade, a more opaque and less colourful variety of natural jade, is a common low-cost substitute for the more precious jadeite variety. This is often seen in ornamental objects, carvings, bookends, etc. It is often marketed as “Canadian jade”. Serpentine, Chalcedony, Maw-Sit-Sit and other natural stones may look superficially like jade to untrained eyes. Many deceptive “jade” items can be found for sale in Malaysia, Singapore, and the markets of virtually all Southeast Asian cities, for that matter. Always approach buying jade with a wary mindset.
Remember: anything other than natural Type “A” jadeite is drastically less valuable than enhanced jade or imitations. If you are looking to make a purchase, make sure you buy from a reputable source.
How important is Jade certification?
Because it is not so easy to identify if a piece of jade is completely natural or enhanced, you may want to have the piece certified by an independent gemological laboratory for your own peace of mind. Any piece of jade can be sent for certification if it doesn’t already have a certificate. There are a number of reputable laboratories in Hong Kong and Singapore that are recognised in the trade. If you are buying a piece of natural jade based on a certificate, it is advisable to check and ensure that the laboratory that issued the certificate is well-recognised with a good reputation. If you have not heard of the laboratory or if the certificate has been issued by an individual, you may want to consider having a second opinion.
Check out the wide range of exquisite jadeite pieces in the La Putri boutique in Singapore and Malaysia.
A beautiful vivid green Jadeite bracelet handcrafted in 18K White Gold and Diamonds.
Intricately handcarved Jadeite drop earrings set with white keshi South Sea Pearls and Diamonds. Teh unique crystalline structure of jade makes it tougher, and less brittle than diamonds and sapphires. This allows jade to be extremely versatile in handling complex designs, which would not be possible on other gemstones.
Icy White Jadeite ear drops of exceptional watery translucency are set with Emerald handcarved ‘leaves’.
An exceptional set of five translucent orange Jadeite cabochons set as ‘Cactus’ brooch. Although Jadeite is traditionally associated with the colour green, it comes in a myriad of colours, which are also beautiful.