Friday, May 20, 2016

Chinese Jade - China's National Jade

In 2006 when I went to China for jade shopping, it turned into one of the longest China trips for me.  I started in Beijing, then went north to Xiuyan to meet with my jade carver.  I've been working with him for many years.  It took a long time to get him to understand there is difference in Asian and Western shoppers.  Especially when it comes to buying jade.  Asian people can appreciate the natural-ness of jade, and cherish some of the little imperfections in jade.  There's a Chinese saying: "the jade carver always leaves something behind", meaning there's often a nick or scratch or minor imperfection from the hand carving of jade.  If you purchased a hand knit or crocheted item, or hand cross stitch quilt, you would expect to find some minor imperfections that shows it's hand made.  But Western people usually don't tolerate any glitches in jade.  And that's what I had to make my jade carver understand.

While I was with him, he showed me a huge chunk of rough jade he had purchased from the jade mine.  It was from a government jade mine that had nice green color and translucent jade.  The jade had been mostly mined out, and the mine was closing, so he bought a hunk of rough jade stone.  It sure didn't look like anything special when I looked at it, and I guess I didn't show much interest, but he kept it.  Then the last couple years he made jade bangle bracelets from it, some classic round shape, and some "modern", flat inside.  They are lovely. 

Some women who purchase the Chinese jade complain to me that it's not "real" jade and want a refund.  They think only Burmese jadeite is real jade.  But Chinese jade is "China's National Jade".  It's the kind of jade used for centuries until jadeite was introduced to China in the 19th century.  It's a kind of nephrite, but not the deep dark solid kind, it's more translucent, more yin.  Nephrite is very yang, deeper and darker.  When I'm looking in Chinese jewelry stores, most of the carried the Chinese jade.  I would often see couples engaged to be married, the man buying his wife-to-be a Chinese jade bangles, picking out the one she likes the most and fits the best.  It's a traditional engagement gift.  And it's often a gift from the bride to women in her wedding party.  It doesn't have a history of being acid washed and dyed like Burmese jadeite, but the Chinese jade made commercially for export is often color treated, because the cheapest and worst color is used and then color treated to make it look better. 

This weekend the classic round and "modern" flat inside style will be on sale on Ying Yu Jade.  The classic round is not too thick because it was made "Chinese style".  The "modern" style gets its name because it used to be only wealthy, privileged women could afford them and working women couldn't wear them anyway because the rounded was uncomfortable.  So when China ended the Mao era and became more modern, women wanted a more comfortable bangle, like men wore, and the flat inside style became popular.

Classic Round Chinese Jade Bangle Bracelets

They are all slightly different color because the jade is natural color and varies throughout the jade rough.  The sale is on Today's Special through Sunday.

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