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Don't be jaded - try something new in jewelry

THERE are so many varieties and styles of jade that even experts can be confused. But if you are contemplating a new pendant or bracelet, look at two of the relatively unknown forms. Wang Jie holds them up to the light.

For many Chinese women, jade pendants and bracelets bring good luck and drive away evil.

There are so many varieties, qualities and styles of jade jewelry that average buyers find the rare stone dazzling in its complexity.

But next time you think of buying a piece of jade, think of something that is not traditional. How about glass jade (boli zhong) or ink jade (mo yu)?

Probably neither of them rings a bell. They don't even rate a big mention among jade experts. The fact that both are rare is not because they are especially valuable but because they are relatively unknown.

Only until recently have a few buyers, collectors and jade lovers begun to unveil the mysteries and charisma of these unusual jade.

Glass jade

Called boli zhong in Chinese, it is described as a kind of emerald from the "old mine."

Here, the old mine refers to the jadeite that has been washed away or precipitated by the erosion of time. Of course, its counterpart is "new mine" which refers to the jadeite found in mines.

Compared with the "new mine," jadeite found in the "old mine" feels oilier and clear.

But "old mine" jadeite only makes up 1 percent of the total production every year.

Glass jade is the best quality of all emerald. The special trait is its transparency and lack of flaws.

Glass jade is often found with translucent glittering in milky or pale white hues.

Some best glass jades carry traces of emerald-green inside, which adds a certain charm.

If the emerald-green dominates the stone, it can be a highly treasured piece.

A necklace made of such glass jade could fetch several million yuan. Less expensive pieces with some flaws or that are semi-transparent are more affordable.

Due to its rigidity, glass jade is seldom carved into fancy shapes such as animals, flowers or Chinese characters. Normally, the pieces retain their original shape with hardly any processing. The most common shape of glass jade pieces is "water drop."

Ink jade

Ink jade, or mo yu, as its name suggests, is black.

In fact, ink jade didn't enjoy wide popularity in the market just because of this.

Some refuse to believe that mo yu is really jade because of the traditional concept of the stone.

But more and more people are beginning to appreciate the uniqueness of ink jade.

Ink jade is a kind of nephrite. Unlike glass jade, ink jade can be easily processed and carved.

When illuminated by a strong light, the edges of ink jade glow with a dark green. Some ink jades have different shades of black running through.

Hints for buying glass jade and ink jade

1. Since glass jade and ink jade have not been so popular, prices can be quite reasonable, except for some rare or exceptional pieces. Normally the prices for a good piece ranges from several thousand yuan to several dozen thousand yuan.

2. Usually one can get a good price in southwestern China's Yunnan Province, the major center for jade in the country.

3. When buying glass jade, focus on the level of transparency rather than the shape. When purchasing ink jade, shape and pattern are also important, as the carving adds value.

4. It is often easy to mistake ink jade with other dark stones. Just remember that ordinary stones are not translucent and do not have that oily texture. If you are uncertain, try putting the ink jade piece under a light. Also remember ink jade has a smooth surface with no pockmarks.


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