For most Americans, a jade bracelet might seem like an alien choice, as they are more accustomed to wearing bracelets made of gold, diamonds, and other gemstones. However, jade is very popular in China and is attracting demand from the U.S. as well. Its lustrous green color can make you look unique and extra stylish at the next party. But before purchasing a jade bracelet, there are some fundamental things you need to know.
Jadeite and nephrite
First, you need to know which type of jade you should buy. “Jade is divided into two major types on the market: nephrite and jadeite jade… Nephrite is often used in sculptures, as its texture is not suitable for fine jewelry. Jadeite is the material used in fine jewelry,” according to Leaf. However, there are nephrite bracelets available to cater to demand from people looking for cheaper options. You can easily differentiate them from jadeite due to their low luster and high opaqueness. The jade bangles that are auctioned for millions of dollars are usually made from jadeite.
Jade comes in various colors, like green, red, yellow, orange, black, white, and so on. However, the most sought after color is Imperial Green. Most of the jade ornaments worn by ancient Chinese royals and today’s upper class have this specific color. Lavender jade, which has a purple color, is also in high demand.
Jade jewelry is classified into several groups, ranging from A to D. Grade A represents the highest quality jade that has not been treated with any chemicals. At most, it might be waxed to increase its luster. This type of jade can gain value over time. Grade B refers to jade that has been bleached and impregnated with a polymer in order to improve color and translucency. Grade C jade is dyed to improve color.
“These treatments are not permanent and affects its general durability. The good appearance can deteriorate over time. Colour dyed Jadeite usually loses its colour with long exposure to sunlight. Depending on the level of treatment, the value of the Jadeite drops dramatically. Treated Jadeite will not gain value over time like untreated Jadeite,” according to Mays. Grade D represents jade that is basically a composite material wherein the jadeite is combined with glass or plastic.
Real or fake
Given the high demand for jade, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are many fake pieces in the market. You can identify real jade by holding it in the palm of your hands. The real thing will feel heavier than the duplicates. Authentic jade will feel cool against your skin. If you hold jade against your face for a couple of minutes and it heats up, the stone is not authentic.
“Real jade is also very tough, so there should be no scratches on the surface. If you can scratch the stone with your fingernail, it’s an imitation… If the seller won’t let you run the fingernail test, then there is a good chance the stone is fake,” according to Trip Savvy.
To avoid getting scammed, check whether the jeweler is registered with the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) or the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA). Plus, ask for certificates from the China Gemological Testing Center (GTC), the U.S. Gemological Institute Of America (G.I.A.), or any international testing laboratory to verify authenticity.