Imperial Jadeite Jade is no doubt the most expensive gem with Mohs scale of hardness being less than 8. Although it is not considered a transparant stone, its value could beat some other precious stones and sometime fetches more than $10,000 per carat on top notch quality.
Growing up in the Jadeite Mine from northern part of Myanmar ( Burma ) and trading Jadeite Jade for all my life, it is unbeleivable to see current prices on Sothebys and Christies Hong Kong Jadeite Auction every year. At the same time, millions of people buying dyed Jadeite Jade across the world without discerning its authenticity out of love for jade. Especially in U.S, jewelry stores are taking advantage of consumers who lack general knowledge in Jadeite Jade. Since I opened a Jadeite jewelry store in last year Jun, 2006, many people come to me for Free Jadeite Jade Testing Service that I offer at my store. It is shocking that 90% of items they brings are Type B ( Bleached by acid then polimer impregnated ) and Type C jade ( dyed color ). Some pay more than a couple of thousand dollars for a dyed Jadeite Jade. I'm really disappointed of lacking consumer protection in this great country. Although gemological Institutions like GIA and AGTA have been issueing reports for Jadeite Jade, not alot of people are aware of that. Even then these reports can tell only whether Jade is natural or treated but never appraise the value.
I have nothing to say if people buy these knowingly. But I found out a lot of my customers have no idea that they are ripped off. They can hardly get advice on value from gemologists because Jadeite Jade is the gem of Orient and most of western trained gemologists have no detail knowledge on its value. Only a few gemologist from Hong Kong can appraise its current value correctly. As far as my knowledge, appraising Jadeite Jade from western gemological perspective is like comparing Western Medicine to Chinese Oriental Medicine ( Accupunture ) and western Workout to Qigong. In reality, this is imposible. The basic foundation of Chinese medicine and western medicine is totally opposite. And I personally believe using western gemological method in appraising Jadeite Jade is deadly wrong. I agree with western way of jadeite identification process but not on appraising its value.
Appraising Jadeite Jade
Chinese call Jade, The Stone Of Heaven and consider the color of Jade as its energy ( Chi ) thus liveliness of color is the most important in Jadeite Jade than any other stone in the world. In the same analogy, you might notice how chinese people tend and nourish their bamboo plant in their house. For example, many people these days are buying irradiated color stones, heat treated ruby, sapphire, HTPT processed Diamond knowingly for its intense and vivid color which can be realized only after advanced treatments. But they are ignorant of lack of liveliness or energy in it. I understand this idea is totally nonsense to western thoughts. It is like we say about Chi in Acupucture. Western world value much more on physical characteristics and beauty whereas chinese value much more on spiritual integrity.
In appraising liveliness of jadeite Jade, many factors need to be considered. There are many chinese terms which I don't know since i'm a Burmese. I would rather describe in my own words which spring up from burmese terminology on Jadeite and my own feeling.
P.S There is a chance that all Burmese terminology might be derived from Chinese origin. I'm willing to learn if any knowledged person out there can give me a lesson.
1. Chuan vs Chi
First and foremost, Chuan is the greatest destroyer of Liveliness or Chi in Jadeite. Chuan is also known as Lavender Jade or purple jade. Imperial green color lost its Liveliness or Chi if Chuan present in the same Jade boulder. The closer the presenceof the Chuan, the lesser the Liveliness of Imperial color Jade is. Even with the slightly tinted of purple color,the value of Imperial Jadeite Jade is decreased dramatically. From a western gemological point of view, the extreamly presence of Mg ( Magnesium ) and Fe ( Iron ) is considered as negative effect on value. But Chinese consider Chuan presence is as a core negative effect on Jadeite value because it kills the spirit of Jade whereas Mg and Fe just influence the color. If pay attention to this factor, 90% of jadeite color can be seen as Dead Color.
2. Yin Yang Harmony
One of my chinese friends explain me about Yin and Yang in jade. The tecture of Jade can be considered as Yin whereas Imperial Green Color can be considered as Yang. It is very interesting to know the utmost beauty of Jadeite Jade lies in the harmony of tecture and color. He compare a jade with a human being. Physical body of Human comes from earth whereas spirit or chi comes from heaven. In the same way, physical tecture of jade comes from earth then green color comes from heaven. Some say lightning brings green color from rainbow. Although I'm not that superstitious to accept that idea, I discovered many evidences that jade tecture exist first then Color comes later.
It is totally depend on the texture ( YIN )'s Flexibility and Firmness to receive green color ( YANG ) accordingly and live together in harmony. If tecture is too tough or Firm, Yang can not come and live thus becomes Icy Jade, Jadeite jade without color at all. If texture is too soft or flexible, Yang dominate fully and Yin lost its power thus end up in Parrot Jadeite ( Opaque )which you can see on commercial Jadeite jewelry. It has no translucency at all so only thin layer with artificial light reflection from the bottom of jewelry mountings can make its look beatiful. Both Icy Jade and Opaque Jade can be considered Jadeite in disharmony. By now you might get some clues why Imperial Jadeite Jade is so rare and expensive. It is very obvious, out of 100 married couples, only a few couples live in harmony in this world. Even in his own body, human rarely has physical and mental harmony. Below are some pictures of jadeite jade which are in harmony and disharmony.
The first picture is Yang dominating Yin, tecture is too soft which can't contain color thus lost harmony.The second picture is 100% in harmony. It is carved because there are some inclusions which prevent it from becoming a Cabochon.The third picture is Yin dominating Yang, tecture is too firm which doesn't allow color to stay thus lost harmony. Only Jadeite Jade from second picture is valuable whereas first and third are commercial jadeite which can't retain jade value in the long term.
3.Yann and Translucency
Yann is MSG ( Monosodium Glutamate) Powder like inclusions in Jadeite. The different shape and sizes of Yann give different media the light can go through inside Jadeite Jade. Small size and thin shape of Yann can give Jadeite better position for light to go through inside thus translucent whereas big size and thick shape of Yann are like doors preventing light from going throgh thus less translucent.
4.Shinn and Color Intensity
Shinn is dark green inclusion in Jadeite Jade but it promotes color of Jadeite. I personally believe the most beautiful Imperial Color always comes from Shinn infested Jadeite Boulder. That is why you can see more imperial color in expensive high-end carvings than Cabochon and Bangles. Skilled carvers removed Shinn from Imperial color using their craftmenship thus result in Beatiful Carvings. It is hard to get a big size cabochon without Shinn inclusions in Imperial color. Very rare are over 5 carats. Below is a sample with Shinn Inside.
The evenness of color is more important in Jadeite Jade than other gem stones since Jadeite rarely have even color. The reason is due to lack of Yin Yang harmony in Jade. Disharmony results from either tecture Yin is too tough or Green Color Yang is not strong enough. Unevenness of color decrease the value of Jade trmendously.
Even in green, Jade has many different colors. The other colors except green are considered secondry and commercial. Here I'm going to explain about the differences in green. Blueish green, yellowish green, Mottled green, parrot green, leaves green, bamboo green, oily green, water green and so on. But don't force me to use these englishre words to describe color. Remember always, the beauty is not a such thing that you can evaluate using your brain. It is harmonic beauty of many involving factors, not this or that. Of course, the color of higher intensity is much more expensive than low intensity.
To say in one word, the value of a Jadeite Cabochon comes from thickness. Double oval Cabochon is much more expensive than single Cabochon. Single oval cabochon is than other shape cabochon. Flat and thin is least valuable. Maw Sit Sit ( opaque ) Jade is cut into very thin sheet for making commercial jewelry. The thin sheet is set by skilled stone setters to get reflection from gold mountings. Because of reflection from mountings, Jade looks translucent and beautiful. But if you take the stone out from mountings, you will realize dark green color in opaque and thin sheet jade. Consumers should be aware of this tricky setting on Jadeite Jewelry since these are valueless.
8.Cracks, Fractures, Fissures
Although small fissures are normal in Jadeite, fractures and cracks can decrease the price of jadeite dramatically. A crack inside the beautiful cabochon can decrease 4,5 times of it value. But because of the rarity of high quality Jadeite Jade, new modern designers are introducing formless Jadeite Shape in Jewelry. I personally love aesthectic value these forless Shape high quality Jadeite Jewelry brings to this new era.
A wisdom of wearing Jadeite jewelry should lie in understanding harmonic beauty of Yin & Yang. It doesn't need to be expensive or big size. You can find small beautiful jade which is in 100% harmony but still affordable. Most of the big size jadeite are not in harmonic beauty unless it is very expensive one. Consumer tend to choose big size thus result in buying either opaque or icy jade which can not retain value in the long run.
I sincerely believe, the intention of wearing jade should not be for boasting purpose, just to experience how earthly form " Jade Tecture " can coexist with Heaven "Imperial Color" in harmony.