Though revered around the world, jade is most commonly associated with China, where it has been known for 8,000 years. Around the turn of the 20th century, we start to see large, fancy and colorful carvings made for Western consumption. Concubines received jade scepters from their emperors. Ancient jade and hard jade are often referred to as jadeite. Han dynasty princes and princesses were sometimes buried in suits of jade, a notable feat accomplished by stitching together bits of jade with threads of silver or gold. Again, get out your loupe. The quality of your collection depends on knowing how to differentiate the real jades from the imposters. When you see the word jade modified by an adjective such as serpentine jade, mountain jade, new jade, watch out. (You will find an entire chapter on fake jades in my book, Collecting Asian Art. The most valuable green is a near emerald green called Imperial Jade or gem-jade. Soft jade is called nephrite. The next step is to figure out if the raw material is actually jade or a fake jade. Its coloration ranges from slightly off-white to yellowish white or greenish white.Jade is one of the most-loved collectibles. Nowadays, carvers work around black spots and trapped crystalline formations, using holes and other tricks to hide impurities. We regularly vet and feature collections of fine jade carvings. These names are often given to pseudo jades. The early Chinese called it yu and saw it as a living stone, radiating with an inner glow. In the second half of the 20th century, traditional styles began to give way to an elaborate new standard. There are two kinds of jade: hard and soft. To value a jade carving, you must first determine whether it is modern or pre-World War II. The latter is often referred to as celadon jade. Its origins are ancient, its properties both medicinal and decorative. The most prominent is that new carvings rarely have the same aesthetic relationship to the stone as older ones. If you do this and are still not sure, there are tests you can be done at home or in a lab. Next, use a jewelers loupe to look for inclusions. If the jade you are viewing has a high sheen, you will do well to err on the side of caution. There should not be any. Chinese women decorated their hair with jade. Real jade tends to feel little bit colder than pseudo jade, Anti-UV polyester yarn
so give it the touch test. Other criteria must be used, and one way is to know the forms that were popular during the different periods. Other colors, such as yellow jade, have their place in the pantheon of Chinese carvings too. If you see that the color is located only in the fissures, you can safely say the stone has been artificially colored. Though found in a variety of colors, the most valuable is green. Mandarin hats had carved small finials on their tops and a jade plume holder in the back. Often ground, mixed with wine and fed to the emperors, jade was believed to increase imperial longevity. Symbolically, a court gentleman, on reaching 80, was allowed to carry a jade pigeon on a pole.) Since jade is an ancient stone, it is useless to try to quantify it by date. Table-top and decorative items produced between 1880 and 1900 were often embellished with silver or gold, even enamel. New, machine- made copies of older designs differ from the originals in subtle ways. To begin your comparison of jade carvings, look at the catalog for our upcoming International and Fine Arts Auction, or any of our past sales. Finally, determine if the stone has been dyed.