Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Does My Jade Have a Crack? What Does a Crack in Jade Mean? Part 1

You receive your new jade bangle bracelet, put it on and love it.  Then you start to closely examine it, and you think there is something wrong with your jade bangle.  It's nicely polished, but there are some tiny areas around the edge that feel slightly rough, maybe even feels like a chip.  When you hold it to the light, you see what looks like a crack.

Jade, jadeite, is stone.  Stone is not "perfect".  All of the natural-ness you see is what makes stone, jade so special.  It's wearing something that has spent centuries under the earth on your wrist. And the jade carving process itself is done by hand.  If you own a hand knit or hand sewed item, you see all kinds of variations due to be hand made.  There's a Chinese saying:  The jade carver always leaves something behind.  Women who live in China often cherish "imperfections" because it shows the jade is natural, hand carved by a traditional jade carver, not a machine.

But a crack can mean damage. A crack is a line in the jade that goes up and down the width of the bangle, and you can feel it. See the red line below:





A crack doesn't always mean your jade will eventually break.  Sometimes the crack takes the tension out of the rounded-ness of the design, and then when you do strike it against something hard, there is less chance it will break into pieces than a "perfect" bangle.  Most of the jade bangles I kept for myself have cracks in them, and while I've broken two "perfect" jade bangles over the past 20 years, none of my cracked bangles have broken.  And some have quite big, serious looking cracks.

Sometimes you can see lines that run through the jade bangle that look like cracks, but are clarification lines, natural lines in the jade stone.  They are not damage; it's the way the jade was formed, note the red line below:


You can see these clarification lines more in translucent jade stone.  They can be very obvious in the fine grained, high quality jade stone because they are so much different than the fine grain.  Sometimes they are on the surface, sometimes the jade carver can make the jade piece with the clarification inside so it can be more smoothly polished.  Clarification lines are not cracks, they are not damage.  And on our web sites, if there are clarification lines they are described, and often discounted because we know most "Western women" still regard the clarification line as damage.

A crack means damage.  Cracks can occur from handling the jade rough, the carving process, or after you receive it and it gets damaged.  Clarifications lines mean the jade stone is natural.  Usually the higher priced jadeite items don't have the clarification lines, and we discount the items that do have clarification lines.

Part 2 will address what a crack in jade "means" in Chinese tradition.




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