THE PROPERTY OF AN ASIAN GENTLEMAN
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Unlike important diamonds and many other precious gems, very few jadeite jewels are named, the result of this stone's shorter history and the reluctance of many owners to expose their pieces to the public eye. However, in the early 1930's, the jadeite markets of Shanghai and Beijing were aroused by the transaction of a boulder rough so perfect, it would become (along with one mined some four or five years earlier) the standard of its generation. This stone was named Seventy Four Thousand, after the number of Silver Taels which it took to buy it.
Seventy Four Thousand was characterised by a density and purity of colour which was combined with a vitreous, fine textured body. According to some sources it was also said to contain large areas of this exceptional combination completely free from cracks or fissures. This placed few restrictions upon the cutters who were able to fashion pieces of jewellery never before made in such high quality material due to the waste involved in cutting them.
The saddle ring now offered, is such an example. Most saddle rings have a green top and white shank, the more unusual completely green saddle rings often weakening in colour at the back. However, this ring has a consistent colour throughout, the shank being identical to the face, making it truly exceptional.
This saddle ring form, the su an or Suzhou style saddle ring, is said to have been developed in the famous jade carving centre bearing the same name during the Qing dynasty. Characterised by a strongly curved face which follows the arc of the shank, it also features straight, high sides. Only the most translucent material could be cut in this way, creating the effect of an inner glow through the body of the ring. It is interesting that the surface features of this ring suggest that it was carved using a foot pedal drill, making it one of the last examples of this lost art.
Like all great stones, "Seventy Four Thousand" is therefore not without its share of colourful stories and superstition.