Jade: Imperial green gem of the East (Part 5) – the world marketplace

Sonja McLahlan (UK) In the fifth and final of my articles on jade, I will look at some of the recognised methods of identifying processed jade items and raw jade found in uncut boulders. I will also discuss the idea of jade as a valuable trade commodity throughout the world, along with the important contribution it makes to the local and national economies of many Asian countries. At the end of the article, I will discuss the modern jadeite and nephrite-processing methods and the locations of major jade cutting centres in Asia. Identifying jade: real or fake? In the field, New Zealand collectors test river boulders by hand and considerable experience is needed to correctly identify jade pieces. Samples of real jade do not sparkle or glitter when chipped and cannot be scratched with a knife. Jade also has a smooth, waxy or greasy look and feel, and is heavier than expected when lifted. Fig. 1. A collection of four polished gemstone samples sometimes seen/sold as jade fakes (serpentine, bowenite, aventurine and malachite). © Sonja McLachlan. Collectors should be wary of fakes when searching in any marketplace. Unfortunately, cheap jade imitations are commonly found on sale in markets, the most common being ‘serpentine jade’, a form of green serpentine that is a combination of several minerals and is much softer than real jade. Occasionally, colour intensified nephrite can be found being sold as jadeite. Onyx marble, which has been dyed green, can also be found being represented as jade. Fig. … Read More

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