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  • Writer's pictureAntiques in Oxford

The secrets of jade

The beauty of jade has made it treasured worldwide for over 7000 years. A representation of the many secrets of elegant gemstones can be shown when deconstructing the different types of jade. According to experts, jade comes in three main types:

A – A piece of rock, cut and polished, with no treatments.

B – The rock is treated with a wax or resin (and/or bleached) to improve the appearance of surface reaching fissures in the stone, making it less cloudy with a slightly better colour, getting rid of browns in the rock.

C – The piece is bleached and dyed, then treated with resin to improve the colour. Type C is unpopular with the majority of jade collectors, who are often purists, and wouldn’t buy a heavily treated ruby if they could buy one they knew had just been plucked from the earth and fashioned for them.

Jadeite jade can be of superb quality, the best often compared to apples or imperial green and is very translucent. The jade gives out a lovely glow (a little like chrysoprase, but the gem is harder so it’s much shinier) and an even colour being most desired. As well as green, lavender and ‘ice’ jade are also in demand. The west sees very little of this highest quality material because there is more demand in China and the east.

Most of what is seen in the west is middle to low quality and almost always a mottled green, but these can be very appealing too. The Chinese hold jade with an almost mythical appeal and scholars have had ‘fondling’ pieces as contemplative aids for centuries. To this day, the feel of jade is very important and pieces are often held and touched as a form of comfort.

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