Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Buying Jade Bangle Bracelets in China

I will never forget seeing a statue of Guan Yin, Buddha of Compassion, that somehow the statue maker got a jade bangle on her wrist.  It was slender, elegant, very calming.

Then while shopping for jade in China, I saw a jade bangle very similar to the one on  Guan Yin's wrist, and I had to calm myself down so the jade seller wouldn't see how much I wanted it.

Jade shopping in China is quite an experience.   First, you need a lot of Chinese cash, which means spending a couple of days at the Bank of China to change your American dollars to Chinese yuan.  There's a limit on the daily amount, so it took at least three days to get the thousands of dollars in cash approved and ready to spend.  Jade shopping is a cash only business.  And there are no prices on the jade: it's all about bargaining.

And first, it's getting to reputable jade sellers.  The jade markets in and around Guangzhou are easier to shop in, but I see a lot of fake certificates changing hands, and have very little trust in the jade for sale there.  It's mostly commercial quality, for foreigners.  So I would take a several hour bus ride south, near the Burma border, to buy directly from the jade carvers.  I could see they were using genuine natural jadeite stone, and what you see is what you get.  I wore a good quality jadeite bangle bracelet and when they saw I "know jade", the good stuff would appear from under the table.  Chinese jade sellers usually put their lower quality on display, then when they decide you know what good quality is, the better quality would be shown to you.  I had learned an ancient Chinese method of testing jade qi energy, and when they saw me doing that, I was "okay" with them.

There are no prices on jade.  I would take my time choosing jade bangle bracelets and pendants, then the bargaining would begin.  If the jade seller saw I was especially fond of something, of course the price would increase.  Poker face works good when negotiating.  Every time I purchased a quantity of jade bangle bracelets, I would choose one for myself.  That goes with my philosophy of buying and selling jade that I would personally wear.  So I couldn't try on the ones I liked, just hope it was the right size for me.

That's how I bought the jade bangle similar to the Guan Yin statue, and the jade bangle was just a couple mm too small for me.

JHBB574 small jadeite bangle bracelet

After business was completed, the session often ended with a tea ceremony with the jade carver and his associates, other people might stop by and join, and I learned that tea ceremony was as good as getting gemology testing and certificates.  It was "guanxi" relationship between us.

Yes, jade shopping was an amazing experience.  Good enough to balance out the bus trip, bus station facilities, eating in restaurants where the staff brought a pot of boiled water to your table to rinse of the plates, eating things I didn't recognize, the heat, the filth, the lack of toilets, the bugs. I often left my clothes and shoes in the last hotel room I stayed in China before we returned to USA.

I am a true jade lover. 

Learning about jade from my mentor in Sihui jade market

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