Antique jade, especially antique Chinese jade, is both beautiful and intriguing. Its historical nature adds to the value of the stone. Antique jade appears in statues, figurines, and jewellery. These pieces are rare and often expensive, so buyers should learn about the qualities of antique jade in order to purchase an authentic piece.
Identifying Antique Jade
Buyers and collectors should check the antique jade, specifically pieces from China, for signs that it is genuine. It is not unusual for authentic antique carved Chinese jade to show signs of calcification, but this is often scrubbed away by the previous owner. To make reproduction antique jade look old, imitators often cover their pieces in chemicals or lime to create a cloudy appearance. Scattered white pits on the surface are an indication of an imitation. Before investing in extremely valuable pieces, buyers should build a solid reference library with books about antique jade, and even study museum collections to train their eyes to identify authentic pieces.
Jadeite became popular in China in the 18th century, when the Chinese began importing large quantities from Burma. The emperor at the time favoured the best emerald green pieces, which resulted in the term "imperial jade". This prized type of jade is present in many antique jade rings and pendants. To find genuine pieces, buyers should look for a glassy, vitreous surface. Some owners use organic dyes to enhance the colour of their jadeite pieces, so it is important for buyers to inspect the stone closely, either in person or using photographs, to check for traces of dye.
Antique Nephrite Jade
Antique nephrite jade is available in shades of cream, white, and green. Its colours are less vivid and more opaque than jadeite. It is also softer than jadeite, but still extremely durable. Nephrite jade has a waxy, almost greasy appearance rather than a glassy look. The Chinese used nephrite in a wide variety of objects, including weapons and ritual items. White nephrite carvings are valuable collector's items, prized for their unique translucent appearance.