Jade Gems, Untreated And Dyed Jadeite
Jadeite And Nephrite Are Jade But Jadeite Is Preferred By Most
Jade was known to man for many centuries, the physical structure of jade is constituted of several closely packed microcrystaline fibres. Ancient man realized that this physical structure gave good toughness to jade. It is therefore no surprise that he put the stone to uses other than jewelry. Tools and even hunting weapons were carved out of jade pieces, these proved very useful in everyday life. When the gemstone world today talks about jade, they include jadeite and nephrite in the same group. It is however not hard to differentiate jadeite from nephrite, jadeite has better green color and a higher degree of transluscence. In today's world, jadeite is much rarer and more expensive as comparted to nephrite.
The hardness of jade is measured on the Mohs scale like for all other gemstones. Jadeite and nephrite measure a 6.5 which at first does not appear very impressive. However the fiberous structure of jade gives it good strength. This is something that many other gems with a higher hardness reading cannot boast of. Most if not all the jade jewelry you come across will include jade that has a smooth cabachon cut. Faceted cuts are not common though you can get custom cut jadeite that is faceted in normal or special multi-faceted cuts. You need to keep in mind that every stone and every gemstone will have some breaks and cracks in it's rough form. Experienced gem cutters will select the best size and shape that each rough stone can be cut to. This is a very important part of the cutting operation. A wrong selection would mean that the crack or split gets included in the final piece, this can reduce the durability of the cut jade piece. Cracks and splits might be hard to notice in opaque and transluscent stones, jade is an example of such a gem. It is for similar reasons that choosing the right source for your jade is as important as the gem itself.
Once you have learnt to visually separate jadeite and nephrite, you will notice some interesting things about jade. Most of the nephrite is used to make statues or carvings especially when they have a large size. Countries like Thailand and Burma also sell bangles carved out of jade. The cheaper variety of these jade bangles are cut from nephrite and can cost around 25 U.S$ to 50 U.S$ a piece. Better quality jade bangles cut from jadeite are expensive and you could pay several hundred or even a thousand U.S$ for such jadeite bangles. Most jewelry applications use jadeite, though simple pendants can be made from nephrite. When you buy a jade stone or a jade jewel that has a stone size that is no more than 15 to 20mm, look for a stone that has no surface cracks. Long cracks just below the surface could also pose a problem after some wear and tear. Just how many flaws in the jade you should tolerate would depend on the price you pay for the jade stone. A cheap 25 U.S$ jade bangle can have prominent and clearly visible cracks. Clever sellers have been known to have used glue to hold some jade bangles or jade carvings from falling apart.
We now come to the most important feature of jade, this is also something that most jewelers wish to keep away from buyers. It relates to the authenticity of jade gems and also the treatments used by gem manufacturers to enhance the beauty of jadeite and nephrite. In todays gems and jewelry industry, almost every stone has some way of being enhanced. Another sad truth is that almost every gem stone has a corresponding look alike, which is a cheap factory made substitute. Sad because many innocent buyers are fooled into paying fancy prices for cheap junk pieces mass produced in factories. So what exactly is done to jade, how is it treated and how can you get better value for what you pay. The next few paragraphs reveal some important and rare details on this topic.
Firstly why should jade be treated for color? If you had seen a gorgeous silver green jade ring with a 10mm jade stone that has the color of a green apple, the stone has most probably been dyed for color improvement. We can say that because such a jade stone would need to be a jadeite, this presumes that it is not a fake. Now a silver jadeite ring with a 10mm jade gem that has good color can be priced at around 1,500 U.S$! This if it was an untreated jadeite stone, a dyed jadeite gem would plunge the price down by over 80%. Gemstone mining has been going on for many decades, improved mechanization has increased the intensity of mining. As the jadeite mines start giving low returns, the prices will move up. This obviously puts the gemstone within the reach of a smaller group of buyers. But what about the majority of us who love jade but, cannot afford to set aside thousands of dollars for a silver jadeite ring? It would be a pity if the majority of jade lovers with limited budgets had to stay away from the gem they adore. Far worse if we had to settle for some cheap factory made fake jade junk. In such a situation, the use of advanced technics to dye natural jade come as a blessing. A pale almost colorless piece of jadeite does not cost much. By doing a dye treatment on this stone you can get a lavish looking green jadeite gem with good color and even color spread througout the gem. All this at a very affordable price and in many sizes and shapes.
In the above paragraph we made a very brave assumption. We presumed that buyer who paid more got natural untreated jadeite. Buyers like us who paid less had to be satisfied with the dyed variety of jadeite. But what if this was not so, what if a buyer who paid for good quality untreated natural jadeite got a cheap dyed jade stone? This does happen and is shameful since the seller is aware of such frauds. Technically it is possible to differentiate the two types of jadeite but, most buyers are not gem experts and this is what gem sellers take advantage of. So the best way to get what you pay for is to choose a reputed jeweler or gem provider.
A last paragraph on this write up on jade. Jadeite is available in many colors like white, brown, green and even blackish green. Lavendar jade has a pale lavendar color, very rarely will you find it in darker shades. Yellow and red jade are increasingly being used in jewelry too. In general, expect all such jade to be dyed and if you are paying more believing that the jade you are getting is untreated, check the credibility of the jeweler. If the price tag is stiff, insist on a certification from a reputed laboratory. This might cost you about 50 U.S$ to 150 U.S$ but is worth the investment. We have come across some cases where jade of the nephrite type has turned a yellowish green after a while. This is probably due to some cheap dye or coating applied to the jade, luckily nephrite is never very expensive. When you pick jade statues, make sure that the material is carved from one single piece of jade. Glueing is quite common when carving such jade statues so keep this in mind. Don't look for too much transluscence, bright green color or even color uniformity when it comes to the nephrite variety of jade.
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