During my frequent visits to China I always try to get an update of the current prices for small carvings and roughs or pebbles in white jade and report these findings to you. You may have noticed from these reports that the prices of Chinese white jade carvings and raw material are rising inexorably.
The latest kick in the price rise was triggered by the Yurungkax extraction ban (really?) and the use of Geermu jade as the backside of the medals for the Olympic Games of 2008 in Beijing.
The prices seen in the shops and markets of Hangzhou are not always realistic and quite often represent more what the seller thinks he should get then what the piece is actually valued. But as white jade is definitively scarce and the potential demand huge, the seller can out sit the lack of immediate buyer, knowing that each week passing his lot of jade will appreciate more and more.
It is also logical that this trend brings more and more fake white jade and jade pebbles into the shops and market stalls and unaware buyers could be easily led to buy a white marble piece or an artificially shaped and colored mountain jade piece instead of the sough-after true Yurungkax River jade.
I present you below some examples of white jade and their prices to be found in selected shops and markets in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, one of the richest towns and provinces in Eastern China.
Here an example of a flying seller on the Hangzhou Antiquity market trying to sell faked river jade.
A selection of jade pebbles from Xinjiang with only those in the first row being somewhat naturally shaped and stained.
Those behind are either reddish stained calcite or dense marble or mountain white jade shaped as as river pebble and outrageously stained to confer them the sough after russet colored rind typically of the much more rarer and expensive river jade material.
A basked full of faked river jade pebbles - Note the high gloss and the aggressive reddish color looking more like a lacquer then the oily look and soft in-depth orangey stain of real Yurungkax material.
Typical example of artificially stained mountain jade
Another example of an attempt to sell 1$-per-gram material as 200$-per-gram Yurungkax river pebbles.
Here now some examples of white jade with certified provenience available in shops in Hangzhou.
These are three samples of real river jade from the Yurungkax with an asking price of 44$ per gram (left one - 62g)
and 163$ per gram (center one - 15g) showing how clarity and texture influence the price. The pebble below is rated at
35 US$ per gram.
The backside of the above samples under slightly different lighting. The pebble to the right is valued at 35$ per gram.
Next the traditional white jade from Hetien/Khotan, also more and more white mountain jade from Geermu reaches the market.
It is very difficult to distinguish the two types but when you have samples from the two sources next to each other you can quickly note that the Geermu nephrite jade has a more translucent and glassy aspect, or as the Chinese experts say:...it looks drier , than Khotan material which is more matte and has the typical oily sheen.
Two rings with small cabochon carvings in Geermu white jade (left) and Khotan white jade (right)
Here now more comparisons of precious jade samples.
Three small pendants (6x4x0.8cm) carved in white jade from the three Chinese sources of white jade as seen in a Hangzhou shop. The left one is Khotan/Xinjiang mountain jade at 76$ per gram, the middle one is from Qiemo/Xinjiang at 15$ per gram and the right and oval one is in Geermu/Qinghai white jade at 19$ per gram.
Khotan white mountain jade from the Almaz mine. 1 US$ amounts to about 7.3 Chinese Yuan or RMB.
White mountain jade from Qiemo with a slight brown - burned sugar - tinge. From Qiemo comes apparently also the white grey jade and the greenish jade for the back of the Beijing 2008 Olympic silver and bronze medals respectively.
Pendant (23g) in white mountain jade from Geermu/Qinghai. This is the white jade from which the back of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Gold medal is made from. The cost of such a medal backing in white jade is estimated at about 400US$ the piece.
Here 99g of carved black Yurungkax River jade at 25 US$ per gram, premium white Yurungkax River jade at 335 US$ per gram and green Xinjiang jade at 18 US$ per gram. The white jade has a small spot of russet color which immediately augments its value because of the added attractiveness and its qualification as river material. The temptation to fake this color is therefore enormous.
A selection of small carved hand pieces in russet skinned but impure white river jade at about 2500 to 3500US$ per piece asking price.
A 58mm diameter disc, a left-over from the making of a bangle, in Khotan jade at 19US$ per gram as seen in another shop.
Note: The price of gold is actually around 800US$ per ounce or 26US$ per gram!