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Head and torso fragment of a jade statuette of a horse, Chinese Eastern Han period (25-220 AD) – Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

From the earliest times in China, jade was valued as the most precious material above gold, silver or any other stone.  There are two types of Jade – Jadeite & Nephrite.  There is only one type of Jadeite, while there are many kinds of nephrite, including the famous BC Jade.

Modern Chinese people love jadeite. More and more shops specializing in this rare gemstone are opening in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore and many other areas of Asia and around the world, where there are high populations of Chinese.  Most, if not all the jade pieces sold in Hong Kong today is Jadeite.  Traditional purchases such as baby gifts, trinkets to dangle from phones, beads, earrings and rings are coveted, all for the love and spiritual beliefs of this unique gem.

Jadeite jade comes in a variety of colors. Green is the most valuable – Photo courtesy of GIA


Jadeite, in Chinese called “FEI CUI” is found in one source location, Myanmar.  Jadeite is the rarer of the two jade variations and the most expensive.  For decades, it was exclusive to the Chinese royal family as a symbol of royalty, power, and wealth.  In the modern days, especially with the rise of China’s economy in the recent 40 years, many more people can afford to purchase Jadeite.  Demand is outweighing the annual supply mined and over the past decade, the price of the finest jadeite has increased tenfold to $3000 an ounce, making it far more valuable than gold.  Jadeite jewelry is being offered by major auction houses quite regularly fetching higher and higher prices.  Next to certain rare colors of diamond (blue, red and pink) Jadeite is the world’s most expensive gem, with prices far above even ruby and sapphire!  Of the top ten most expensive jewels sold worldwide by Christie’s in 1999, five out of ten were jadeite, including three of the top four. These auctions clearly show that jadeite is among the most valuable of all gemstones.


A gorgeous green and lavender jadeite bangle from Lao Feng Xiang

Cultural Beliefs

Aside from its beauty, Jadeite is believed to symbolize virtue and knowledge.  Referred to as the “Stone from Heaven” it is pure enough to inspire the highest aspirations in its wearer.  In addition
Jadeite is also believed to have mystical powers of protection and peace.  Jadeite bangles are given even today as a form of betrothal offering never ending love and protection.  Similar to western cultures where a diamond is forever.

Jadeite’s value is based on four important features:

  1. Is it a natural stone? Jadeite is categorized within 3 ranges.  Type A is natural with no outside intervention.  Type B is found to be bleached by acid and polymer filled.  Type C is dyed.  Only Type A jadeite, all natural, holds value. Avoid any Type B or Type C. Collectors usually request for a certificate to prove that it’s all natural.
  2. Jadeite is found in many colors.  Other than the most commonly known green, colors such as lavender, black, brown, white, gray, orange and red are also mined.  When appraising color, evenness throughout the piece is most important.  Imperial or King Fisher green as well as apple green is highly prized by collectors.  Secondly lavender, black and red.
  3. Simply, translucency is the degree in which light can penetrate the stone.   Jadeite can be found with translucency ranging from opaque to semi-transparent.  The play of light is most impressive with semi-transparent creating a highly desirable brilliance, therefore making it most sought after.
  4. Is decided upon by the stones crystal structure.  The texture can be either fine, medium or coarse.  The finer the crystal structure, the easier the light can pass more evenly.  Terms for texture are ice or watery.

dsc_6841The cutting process is important as well.  The master cutters must decide exactly how they can maximize the use of as much rough as possible.  Fine quality Jadeite can be found in the shape of beads, bangles and cabochon cuts best suited for rings and other jewelry.  It can take years for a very fine quality strand of beads to be created, as perfectly matched transparency, color and texture must be consistent.

img58624jpgFine Jadeite can command prices in the millions, such as this rare imperial jadiet 24 million dollar watery green bangle

In summary, millions of people since its discovery have held Jadeite in high esteem.  Both spiritually and to build wealth, demand will continue to outweigh supply, and in doing so, the value will only maintain its upward trajectory becoming the most highly prized gemstone in the world.



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