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10 Facts About Buying Jadeite Jade Bangles

A comprehensive guide to Burmese Jade Bangles and Bracelets

Beautiful translucent Jadeite Jade Bangle.

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).

Showing Jadeite Bangles that are similar in appearance to Nephrite Jade Bangles
a collage of 4 photos showing the different imitations to jadeite

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. 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.

Guizhou Jade

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

Guizhou Jade Bangle imitating a Jadeite bangle

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Treatments

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 the treated jade bangles in this guide.

Grade / TypeTreatmentComments
ANone / WaxingNatural untreated Jade
BBleached, then impregnated with a polymer to enhance translucency and colourLow value, Losses durability and not stable
CDyed to improve colourLow value, Colour change or fade over time
B + CTranslucency and colour enhancedLow value, as above
DComposite materialJadeite combined with other material such as plastics or glass
Polymer on the surface of a treated jade bangle has strated to come off

Degradation of polymer on the surface revealing a bleached area.

Graph showing the value of natural vs treated jade over time.

Graph showing the value of natural vs treated jade over time.

Internal degradation of polymer showing discolouration and coarse texture.

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.

Various jadeite cabochons in varying colours

Translucency

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.

Chart showing the translucency of jade from opaque to semi transparent.

Texture

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.

Chart showing a texture of jade from caurse to fine

Imperfections

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. 

A diagram outling the various natural flaws in a jade bangle

Note. This is not the true colour of this bangle. Colours has been altered digitally to bring out the flaws.

Diagram showing the various styles of jade bangles

Bangle Styles

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

Sizing

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.

Photo of jade bangle with internal measurements

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.

Origin

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.

Map of jade mining location in myanmar

Mineral Properties

Chemical FormulaNaAlSi2O6 (Sodium Aluminium Silicate)
Hardness6.5 - 7
Crystal SystemMonoclinic
TransparencyNear transparent – Opaque
Specific Gravity3.3 - 3.5
Reflective Index1.654 – 1.673
Birefringence0.019
LustreVitreous – Waxy

Misnomers

Trade NameMineral
Burmese, Yunnan, Imperial JadeJadeite
Chinese, Canada, Russian, Wyoming JadeNephrite
New Zeland GreenstoneNephrite or Bowenite
Indian, Amazon JadeAventurine
Manchurian, Shanghai, Fujian, Honan JadeGreen Talc
Guizhou, Malaysia JadeQuartzite
Australian JadeChrysoprase
California, American JadeVesuvianite

Further Reading

5 Types of Treatments

Detailed information on treatments applied to Jade Bangle Bracelets. Treated Jade Bangles are common in the market place today and are there to deceive consumers.

Cleaning Waxing and Caring

Some care and caution is required went it comes to handling and cleaning jade bangles. Read this guide to maintain the best possible appearance for your jade bangle.

Fitting Guide

A step by step guide with pictures and clear instructions. Fit your new jade bangle easily and pain free.

About the Author

Wai Yan

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. 

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