10 Facts About Buying Jadeite Jade Bangles
A comprehensive guide to Burmese Jade Bangles and Bracelets
2020 Revised Edition
What is Authentic Jade?
When it comes to Genuine Jade, one can refer to them as either Jadeite or Nephrite. Two different minerals but are alike in appearance. But wait...there are many other materials that looks like Jade too, and traders around the world are calling them Jade because it brings the value up of their product. These are what most might call "fake" jade, the non-genuine. As a buyer looking for Authentic Jade, it can be very confusing, maybe even daunting to get the best deal while making sure the piece is authentic. Fear not, by the end of this article you will have all the knowledge to buy Authentic Jade Bangles. In this guide, we will cover the more valuable and sought after Jadeite Jade. We will discuss its value, colour, translucency, texture, colour, artificial treatments, origin, and everything else you will need to know to choose the right bangle.
Jadeite or Nephrite
Firstly, know which type of Jade you are going to buy. Nephrite or Jadeite, they are both real, authentic Jade. If you are looking for the same Chinese Jade Bangles that gets sold for millions of dollars at auction and was worn by the traditional Chinese imperial families, then you are looking for Jadeite Jade. Although they similar in appearance, their chemical compositions are very different. Jadeite has a higher hardness and is more durable. Nephrite is less lustrous and almost always opaque. Jadeite comes in a wider variety of colour while Nephrite generally comes in darker, more matte tones. Nephrite is commonly found in large deposits around the world and it’s generally used for carving because of its availability. Jadeite is a much rarer mineral and commercially only available from Myanmar (Burma).
Imitation (Fake) Jade
An Imitation is material that looks alike but has completely different chemical compositions and properties. As an example, Australian Jade is often an imitation for high quality Jadeite. Although it has Jade in its name, it's actually Chrysoprase which is a member of the Quartz family. Even Nephrite is sold as Jadeite to the unsuspecting customer. These common imitations are much less valuable and if paid for at Jadeite prices, you could be deeply out of pocket. Read the article on real examples of these fake jade bangles being sold on online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay. Some common Jadeite imitations are: Grossular Garnet, Aventurine Quartz, Prehnite, Serpentine. These can sometimes fool the most experienced of eyes, further testing must be conducted for an identification. Refer to the table below for a list of common names for these imitations.
A recent survey of the Jade Bangle market shows a large amount Guizhou Jade Bangles from China being sold as "Natural Certified Jadeite Jade" Bangles. Do not be fooled. Guizhou Jade is a type of Green Quartzite, a metamorphosized sandstone.
Guizhou Jade Bangle imitating a Jadeite bangle
Natural Jadeite comes in many qualities and colours. Not all Jadeite Jade are green and not all are translucent. Lower quality jadeite are opaque and of less desirable colour. In the market where the demand for high quality Jadeite is strong, industry experts artificially treat low quality Jadeite to enhance their transparency and colour. These treatments are not permanent and affects its general durability. The good appearance can deteriorate over time. Colour dyed Jadeite usually loses its colour with long exposure to sunlight. Depending on the level of treatment, the value of the Jadeite drops dramatically. Treated Jadeite will not gain value over time like untreated Jadeite. Beware of shops that pitch their products as “Genuine Fine Quality Burmese Jade” and fail to disclose any treatments. The type of treatments are classified into 5 categories from A - D. Learn in-depth about treated jade bangles in this article.
|Grade / Type||Treatment||Comments|
|A||None / Waxing||Natural untreated Jade|
|B||Bleached, then impregnated with a polymer to enhance translucency and colour||Low value, Losses durability and not stable|
|C||Dyed to improve colour||Low value, Colour change or fade over time|
|B + C||Translucency and colour enhanced||Low value, as above|
|D||Composite material||Jadeite combined with other material such as plastics or glass|
A man paints on dyes onto a Jade Bangle to mimic natural looking colour veins and inclusions.
TYPE C Jade Bangles Floods Myanmar Jade Market
A recent market update from Myanmar shows the Jade market in Myanmar is now flooded with dyed, Grade C Jadeite Jade Bangles. The Burmese rarely treat their Jade products but as of the last recent years, treatments are becoming more common and in some cases, they are becoming the new norm. The majority of the world's Jade bangle supply comes from Burma. For this reason, we need to be aware of these treatments that can affect the value of a Jade bangle greatly. Read more: Dyed Jade Bangles in Myanamr.
Degradation of polymer on the surface revealing a bleached area.
Graph showing the value of natural vs treated jade over time.
Internal degradation of polymer showing discolouration and coarse texture.
"GRADE A JADE"
An overly misused & misunderstood phrase
The general conception of Grade A is of a high quality, or fine quality material in most circumstances but not in the case of Jade. This term only refers to the level of treatment a piece of Jadeite Jade has gone through and has nothing to do with quality.
Colours of Jadeite Jade
Natural Jadeite can come in many colours: green, lavender, red, orange, yellow, brown, grey, black, and white. The most sought after the colour of Jadeite is called the Imperial Green which is an Emerald like vivid green colour. It's closely followed by Lavender Jade which has a purplish blue hue. Icy Jade is coming into trend with its near transparent white colour.
Like many other gemstones, the transparency of Jadeite Jade is a factor in determining the quality. Myanmar Jadeite Jade can range from near transparent to opaque. Opaque Jade bangles are considered lesser in value because they are plentiful. The value of a jade bangle can increase dramatically even with the slightest improvement translucency.
Texture of the material plays an important factor in determining a value of a jade bangle. High value jadeite is fine or smooth in texture and does not have a coarse granular look.
Jadeite Jade being a product of nature, created through tremendous heat and pressure, usually have natural flaws. They are only avoidable to an extant because of the way these bangles are carved out of the rough mineral. Carving out a perfect piece would mean wasting precious material and even then, it's not guaranteed to bring out a flawless bangle. Perfect bangles are possible (with some luck and miracle), however, they are rare and carries a higher premium. These flaws or inclusions do not affect the durability of the bangles. In fact, it gives it a uniqueness. A fingerprint of sorts. In most scenarios, these natural flaws are strong indicators that a bangle hasn't been artificially treated. Some common inclusions in Burmese Jade Bangles are shown on the diagram to the right.
Note. This is not the true colour of this bangle. Colours has been altered digitally to bring out the flaws.
Flaws and Value
Imperfections or flaws as some may put it, is one of the key considerations in determining the value of a jade bangle bracelet. Many shopping for a jade bangle online may overlook this important factor to opt for a cheaper option. A single critical flaw or multiple flaws can have significant impact (up-to 90% reduction) on the pricing depending on the severity of the flaw. For example, 2 bangles that look entirely similar in colour, texture and translucency. One is priced at $55 and the other, $550. One is flawless and the other has a critical flaw that might affect the structural integrity of the bangle. Which also means a light impact to the bangle may cause it break into pieces. There are many examples evident through our collection; similar looking bangles carved out of the same stone but varying greatly in prices. Every single bangle available through us has gone through rigorous inspections to check for flaws in determining its value.
Types of Flaws
|Internal Stonelines||Low - Moderate|
|Surface Reaching Fractures||Low - High|
|Chips||Low - Moderate|
|Dents||Low - Moderate|
|Symmetry||Low - Moderate|
|Surface Blemishes||Low - Moderate|
The driller uses a specialised drilling machine to form rough jadeite bangles.
How Jade Bangles are Made
Jade Bangles are made by craving from large natural boulders which are then sliced in to manageable slabs. Holes are drilled out of these slabs to create a rough jade bangle. From the rough, skilled men shaped them into various styles just with the use of the hands. They are finally polished in a traditional manner just like from ancient times. See the whole jade bangle production process from boulder to bangle with photos here.
Myanmar Jadeite Jade Bangles comes in six different styles. The diagram on the left shows the cross section of a bangle. Traditionally, Jade bangles were worn with a Round or Oval style. Over time, the trend is progressing towards Halfmoon and Flat styles. Partly due to the decreasing amount of good translucent material. A thinner, flatter style allows more light to pass through making the bangle appear more translucent. Nevertheless, round styles are still popular and is a matter of personal preference
World's Most Expensive Jade Bangle
The current world record price for Jadeite bangle is currently at $7.8M AUD ($5.6M USD) set in 2015 at Sotheby's Hong Kong. It was a Guifei bangle; an oval shaped bangle for imperial consorts pioneered during the Tang Dynasty. But as of recently(2018) a highly translucent, imperial green coloured jadeite bangle named The Circle of Heaven has been offered with an estimate price more than double the current record. See the Top 10 most expensive bangles article.
Jadeite Jade Bangles are non-flexible, made out of solid mineral. Sizes refer to the internal diameter as shown below in millimetres. The usual sizes are from 54mm - 66mm. Follow this Jade Bangle Sizing Guide to determine the correct fitment.
Benefits of Wearing a Jade Bangle
Jadeite Jade is a symbol of wealth, health and protection in Chinese culture. The Chinese have treasure this gemstone for centuries because it is believed to bring the wearer wealth and good fortune.
Colour Change Over Time
There are reported cases of Grade A Jadeite Jade bangles changing colour over time from wear. It’s important to note that colour change in treated jadeite is different topic. If the colour change from green to brownish colour, it is believed that the bangle has been drawing negative energy from your body. On the other hand, if the bangle turns greener, the bangle has been deposited with positive energy over time. The process may take years to notice. It’s recommended that you take a photo of the bangle when you first wear it to observe the change.
Maintenance and Care
Caring for a Natural Jade Bangle requires very little. The material itself is very tough and will resist to chips and breaks. Regular cleaning is recommended to maintain your bangle's original lustre (shine). Read this expert's guide to cleaning, waxing and caring for Jade Bangles, natural or treated.
The finest source of Jadeite Jade in the world comes from Kachin state, Myanmar (Burma). It's also the only commercial source for Jadeite in the world. Other small deposits are found in Kazakhstan, Russia, Japan, Guatemala, and USA.
|Chemical Formula||NaAlSi2O6 (Sodium Aluminium Silicate)|
|Hardness||6.5 - 7|
|Transparency||Near transparent – Opaque|
|Specific Gravity||3.3 - 3.5|
|Reflective Index||1.654 – 1.673|
|Lustre||Vitreous – Waxy|
|Burmese, Yunnan, Imperial Jade||Jadeite|
|Chinese, Canada, Russian, Wyoming Jade||Nephrite|
|New Zeland Greenstone||Nephrite or Bowenite|
|Indian, Amazon Jade||Aventurine|
|Manchurian, Shanghai, Fujian, Honan Jade||Green Talc|
|Guizhou, Malaysia Jade||Quartzite|
|California, American Jade||Vesuvianite|
Important Tips on Buying Jade Bangles Online
- Is it Jadeite? Beware of imitation stones and even man-made glass!
- Understand that Grading or 'Grades' is not an expression of quality in jadeite.
- Does it have any treatments or enhancements? Dyes and polymer impregnation is common in Jadeite.
- Check for colour accuracy of the photos. Are the any filters? Colour enhancements?
- Are there any flaws? If so, what type? Some flaws can reduce the value of a bangle by 90%!
- Bangles with flaws are less likely to increase in value over time.
- How's the translucency? Opaque bangles are much lesser in value.
- What about the texture and overall clarity?
- Fine jade bangles are as good of an investment as any blue-chip stock, if not better.
About the Author
Wai was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). Trained by the Gemmological Association of Australia, he is a qualified Gemmologist. Throughout his life, he has been in constant contact with gemstones and jewellery through the family business and has been fascinated by the beauty and rarity of them all. He is now operating a branch of the business in Australia, supplying all kinds of gemstones especially of Burmese origin to international markets.
Last Updated 08/04/2020