10 FACTS ABOUT BUYING JADEITE JADE BANGLES
A comprehensive guide to Burmese Jade Bangles and Bracelets
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).
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 actaully 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. 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 low grade Jadeite
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 catagories from A - D. Note that these treatments only apply for Jadeite Jade. It's unusual for Nephrite to be treated.
Natural untreated Jade
Bleached, then impregnated with a polymer to enhance translucency.
Low value, Losses durability and not stable
Dyed to improve colour
Low value, Colour change or fade over time
B + C
Translucency and colour enhanced
Low value, As above
Jadeite combined with other material such as plastics or glass
"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
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. Followed by Lavender Jade which has a purplish blue hue.
Like many other gemstones, the transparency of Jadeite Jade is a factor in determining the value. Myanmar Jadeite Jade can range from near transparent to opaque. Opaque jadeite bangles are cheaper and more common.
Texture of the material plays an important factor. 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 unavoidable 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 perfect bangle. Perfect bangles are possible, however, they are rare and will carry a higher premium. These inclusions or flaws do not affect the durability of the bangles. In fact, it gives it a uniqueness. A fingerprint of sorts. Some common inclusions in Burmese Jade Bangles are shown on the diagram to the right.
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
Jade Bangles in Chinese Culture
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.
Jadeite Jade Bangles are non-flexible, made out of solid mineral. Sizes refer to the internal diameter as shown below in milimeters. The usual sizes are from 54mm - 66mm. Follow this Jade Bangle Sizing Guide to determine the correct fitment.
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.
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.
6.5 – 7
Near transparent – opaque
3.3 - 3.5
1.654 – 1.673
Vitreous – Waxy
Burmese, Yunnan, Imperial Jade
Maw Sit Sit (Chloromelanite)
Chinese, Canada, Russian, Wyoming Jade
New Zeland Greenstone
Nephrite or Bowenite
Indian, Amazon Jade
Manchurian, Shanghai, Fujian, Honan Jade
Guizhou, Malaysia Jade
California, American Jade
Jade can be a difficult topic to comprehend with the many variations and imitations. With many factors that can affect its value, one must be extra careful to choose a trustworthy supplier that understands the material thoroughly and is up-to-date with the latest market insights.
- Wai Yan -