Jade Buying Guide
by Madhubanti Rudra
It is important to know that in case of Jade, the individual piece is important than the mere carat-weight of the stone. The value of each piece of stone is judged in terms of color. In addition to color, the clearness and smoothness of the stone are also taken into consideration. Another important value factor in Jade is cutting and carving. The smooth texture of this stone allows different innovative styles of curving that renders it a variety of shapes and patterns.
Jade; a thing of beauty
A green Jade always carries with it a refreshing air that greets you every time you behold a piece of this gemstone. Nothing can quite compete with the beauty of this opaque stone except an equally bright piece of green emerald. The green color is believed to produce a rejuvenating impact on the human souls. That is why, since time immemorial jade had been highly prized for being a huge source of positive energy. Once an integral part of history and culture of China, Jade today is the part of every fashionable woman worldwide.
For thousands of years, the legends and myths surrounding jade evoked curiosity and passion among men. The historical existence of this exotic gemstone can be traced to the legends of Mayan and Aztec civilizations of Central America. Birthstone for the Zodiac signs of Libra, Aries, Gemini and Taurus, jade has always been coveted for its wonderful healing properties. In oriental countries, jade used to be regarded as the preserver of dead body. In their aspiration to attain immortality after death, the rich and mighty emperors of China used to build their tombs with rarest and most precious of Jades. In ancient India, Jade was called a ‘Divine Stone’ and used extensively for the treatments in such diseases as asthma, gravel, epilepsy and heartburn. In course of history, Jade traveled to Europe with the Portuguese settlers who were the strong believers in its miraculous curative properties for the kidney related diseases.
Throughout Asia, especially in China, jade is a prized stone for resuming love in the lives of the married couples. It is also believed to bring peace and harmony and calmness of mind.
Basically jade is regarded as a balancing stone. According to the oriental philosophy, Jade is the energy stabilizer; It strikes balance between male and female power, it provides balance to the emotional manifestations, and most importantly, it creates balance between positive and negative forces. It also invokes wisdom and spiritual qualities in human beings.
The Characteristic Features of Jade
Worldwide Jades are available in two broad categories. They are Nephrite and Jadeite. Although they broadly differ in their physical characteristics, they are similar to each other in multiple aspects. Both of them occur in large boulders to small pebbles in nature. They are so hard that they cannot be carved in the usual ways. Both jadeite and nephrite are tough and durable, although jadeite is slightly harder than nephrite due to its microcrystalline structure.
Among these two varieties, Nephrite is the commonest form of jade; it is also the softer version of the two. It has a complicated chemical structure consisting of magnesium or iron silicate crystals, formed into an interlocking fibrous mass. Nephrite is also known as ‘kidney stone’, because it is believed to work magically as a healer of kidney diseases. This Nephrite variety of Jade, which ranks 6.5 on the Mohs’ scale, comes in many other colors as white, light brown or yellow. But, the most common color in Nephrite is dark spinach green. The intensity of color however, is not very high. Nephrite is mined in Canada, Australia, the United States, and Taiwan.
In the present international market, jadeite jade commands much higher prices than nephrite. In fact, these days, jadeite jade is considered to be more authentic. Not only the color is much more vivid in Jadeite, the stone appears much more translucent too. Jadeite is actually a sodium aluminum silicate which consists of translucent granular crystals. It is a tough stone ranking 7 on the Mohs’ scale. Jadeite displays a fine range of green shades. However, green in jadeite is lighter than those found in nephrite. Jadeites are also found in black, blue, lilac, pink, purple, red, violet and white. Although Burma or Myanmar is the highest producer of Jadeite Jade, small quantities can be found also in Guatemala.
Value Factor of Jade
Jade is among some of the toughest gemstones that do not splinter easily. That is why, it is ideal for crafting jewelleries. In fact, its prodigal hardness made it the favorite material of the primitive men of Neolithic days for making their tools and instruments. All through the Chinese history, this stone had been extensively used to produce all kinds of beautiful artifacts and that tradition continues till date.
It is important to know that in case of Jade, the individual piece is important than the mere carat-weight of the stone. The value of each piece of stone is judged in terms of color. In addition to color, the clearness and smoothness of the stone are also taken into consideration. Another important value factor in Jade is cutting and carving. The smooth texture of this stone allows different innovative styles of curving that renders it a variety of shapes and patterns. Among different popular patterns, “moss in snow” pattern is particularly high valued.
Jade looks great with cabochons cut that renders it a dome like shape. This cut highlights on the smoothness of this stone. However in China, jades are given the shape, resembling a donut. These flat discs of jades are called, “Pi”. They are worn as necklaces in China.
Among all the varieties, the most prized variety is the ‘Imperial Jade’. In Chinese version, it is famous as the ‘Old Mine Jade’. This variety of Jade is not only rarest, but also the costliest, because of its extraordinary transparency. They are so clear that it is possible to read through them. The pure white jades also contain high value.
However there is another variety of Jade, called, ‘Grave jade’, that are collected by the grave-robbers. They are highly valued as a shield against harm.
The best quality jades are those which depict translucent and vivid medium green color. These top quality Jades are characterized with a total absence of inclusions and uniformity of color.
These days markets are flooded with imitation Jades made of plastic and glass. However the fake Jades are distinguished from the original ones by the presence of entrapped minuscule air bubbles in them. It is highly recommended that on your travel to the oriental countries, do not get tempted to collect Jades from the local agents, buy Jade only from the authentic gem-traders who provide a buy-back guaranty for your gem.