Jadeite is one of the precious stones with longest history that holds a special place in Chinese culture. Its lush vibrant green color symbolizes beauty, pureness and knowledge. Known as the Stone of Heaven, the jadeite is supposed to give protection to the person who owns it. However, nowadays it has become more and more popular all around the world, used as the center stone in many magnificent jewelry pieces.
What exactly is jadeite?
Jadeite is the rarer and harder version of the two distinct minerals (nephrite and jadeite) called by the common name “jade”. While nephrite was popular in Chinese art for thousands of years, having numerous sources in China, the jadeite that arrived from Burma (today known as Myanmar) only at the end of 18th century, quickly became the star in the Chinese imperial court jewelry and art. The highest quality of jadeite today still comes from the natural resources in Myanmar and is quite limited.
Other ancient cultures that worshiped the jadeite were the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Today Guatemala still produces the valuable green jadeite but emerged as well as an important supplier of the black jadeite, known as the Maya Black in the trade.
The high prices that some of the most exclusive jadeite jewelry fetches at the big auctions are a proof how desired is this stone still today.
The exceptional Orpheus ring designed by Anna Hu broke the world sales record for a Chinese contemporary jewelry artist at Christie’s in Hong Kong on 28 May 2013. The star of the ring was a stunning green jadeite cabochon weighing an impressive 45.39 carats. The final realized price was HK$20,030,000 (US$2,592,663). (1)
Another striking sale was a semi-cylindrical jadeite bangle of brilliant emerald green color and high translucency that was sold for the impressive HK$40,440,000 (US$ 5,160,000) on 27 May 2014 at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. (2)
There are three most important qualities to look for when buying a jadeite jewelry: color, transparency and texture.
The magical green color of the jadeite is the top color which commands millions of dollars at the market. It is called Imperial green jadeite and it is quite rare. However a few people are aware that the jadeite comes in other colors in nature as well – lavender, red, orange, yellow, brown, white, black and gray.
The second most coveted and pricy color is the lavender jadeite which happens very often to be treated or dyed in order to reach a more intense color, so our advice is always to check the stone in a reputable gem laboratory if possible.
Photo: Jadeite jade comes in a variety of colors. Green is the most valuable. – Courtesy Mason-Kay Fine Jade Jewelry Photo Source
The best jadeite is semitransparent which has an alluring brilliance because it allows light to penetrate below the surface of the stone and glow. The least desired jadeite is the one which is complete opaque or has cloudy parts.
Surprisingly jadeite is judged by the texture the stone holds. It should be smooth and even, and as specialists say you should have the desire to touch and hold it. So whenever start choosing a jadeite jewelry, make sure you touch the stone with your hands to feel it.
Depending how good the interlocking crystals have been arranged, the texture could be divided in three categories: fine, medium, and coarse according to the classification of Gemological Institute of America.
Some of the typical cutting styles which you could encounter while searching to buy your jadeite jewelry are very traditional like the hololiths, carved entirely from a single piece of rough. Common hololiths include bangles, rings and pendants, which wastes more rough material during the cutting process.
Fine quality jadeite might also be cut into round beads and strung into necklaces, in which the beads are carefully selected and matched in transparency, size and symmetry of cut. Other common forms include cabochons for use in rings, brooches, pendants and other jewelry.
More Hollywood actresses and top models are spotted recently on the red carpet to wear modern jadeite jewelry. The green color of the jadeite combines perfectly with the striking blue sapphires, rubies or the splash of light of diamonds. Dior has used the tender lavender jadeite as a dial for the watch La Mini D de Dior. (3)
Photo: Two Pairs of Jadeite, Ruby and Diamond Pendant Earrings, sold at Sotheby’s Auction Magnificent Jewels and Jadeites, Oct 3rd, 2018, Honk Kong
So do not hesitate to add jadeite jewelry to the top of your buy list, find your unique piece and simply adorn yourself.