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Jadeite is a distinctive and attractive gemstone used in jewelry that is as beautiful as it is highly desired by collectors today. Here, Christie’s Jewelry Specialist Shiu-Fung Chiang shares the reasons why collectors and jewelry enthusiasts alike love jadeite, and highlights fine examples of jadeite pieces from Christie’s Jewels Online Auction.
Jadeite is rare
When it comes to the term jadeite, many people are unsure of its meaning, especially when faced with the difference between jade and jadeite. The former refers to two unique stones: jadeite and nephrite. While they may appear similar in appearance, their chemical make up is dramatically different. Nephrite is comprised of calcium and magnesium silicate while jadeite is a sodium aluminum silicate. Both magnificent, jadeite is more rare, and thus, more valuable.
Jadeite and diamond ear clips with Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory certificate (Lot 31). Estimate HKD 15,000-25,000.
Jadeite pendant necklace with Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory certificate (Lot 61). Estimate HKD 30,000-50,000.
Jadeite holds an important place in Chinese culture
Beyond its beauty, jadeite holds a unique place in Chinese culture, where it symbolizes beauty, righteousness and knowledge. Known as the ‘stone of heaven,’ it was considered pure and enduring enough to inspire the highest spiritual aspirations in its wearer. Jadeite is also believed to have a mystical power, bringing peace and protection. For example, jadeite bangles are common gifts in the Chinese culture as grandparents often present them to their grandchildren as a source of protection. There are many stories that tell of a jade bangle breaking by absorbing negative energy, leaving the wearer unharmed.
Jadeite bangle with Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory certificate (Lot 60). Estimate HKD 80,000-120,000.
Jadeite and diamond ring with Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory Certificate (Lot 35). Estimate HKD 20,000-30,000.
Jadeite can take many beautiful forms
Color: Jadeite comes in a range of colors other than green, the color for which it is most commonly known. Jadeite can also be found in lavender, red, orange, yellow, brown, white, black and gray.
Translucency: Translucency is the degree to which light can penetrate the stone. The translucency of jadeite ranges from opaque to semi-transparent, the latter being the most desirable form. Due to its interaction with light, semi-transparent jadeite has the most alluring brilliance, therefore making it the most coveted.
Texture: Jadeite's texture can be fine, medium, or coarse, depending on variations in crystal size and hardness. Texture refers to the ground, the size and the type of crystal structure within the stone, with the best jadeite displaying an extremely fine texture through which light can pass more evenly.
Cutting styles: Manufacturers fashion jadeite into a handful of distinctive, traditional jewelry forms. Some are hololiths, carved entirely from a single piece of rough. Common hololiths include bangles, rings and pendants, which wastes more rough during the cutting process. Fine quality jadeite might also be cut into round beads and strung into necklaces, in which the beads are carefully selected and matched in transparency, size and symmetry of cut. Other common forms include cabochons for use in rings and other jewelry.
Discover fine examples of jadeite jewellery in Christie’s Jewels online auction, which is open for bidding until 10 November.