Time is running out – The last Fabergé type green Siberian jade boulder?

The workshops of Carl Farbegé in St. Petersburg, located in the Greater Morskoy Avenue, did produce, from 1870 until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918, numerous objets d’art in beautiful emerald green Siberian jade.


Eternal Calendar in green nephrite with diamonds, pearls and enamel manufactured, before 1899, in the Fabergé workshops under the supervision of Michael Perchin.


The Faberge workshops in St.Peterburg during the last years before the Revolution


The green nephrite jade came from the Sayan Mountains about 150Km east of Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal in what is now the Autonomous Republic of Buratia in Russia.

The Sayan Mountain area with the Bortogol site

The area is still mined today although the best material becomes very rare indeed. Looking for suppliers of Russian white Vitim jade I came across the company Minerasia S.pA. in Treviglio (near Milano/Italy – ). Its owner, Mr. Claudio Cerasi, did inform me that beside the material I was looking for, he had also an exceptional boulder, weighting 1163Kg, of the beautiful emerald green jade which Fabergè was using for his most precious carvings and jewelry works.


The top grade "Fabergé" green jade from Bortogol

The material comes from the now exhausted Bortogol River mine in the Sayan’s and is available for inspection and purchase in Italy. He would like to sell the huge piece as a single lot with an asking price of about 100 EURO per Kg.



The "last"  Fabergé green Bortogol  jade boulder?


 This is indeed a steep price but this green jade is the last of its kind and really beautiful and linked directly to the Fabergé objects d’art. I hope that his marketing plans are successful and he will find a jade lover willing to take up the entire boulder.


Next to the Bortogol boulder Mr. Cerasi has also two further green jade boulders (about 1000 and 2000Kg) from the nearby Gorlykgol River mine. This very compact material is slightly darker and has a more subdued green color. Similar material was also utilized in the St.Petersburg workshops.   
The Gorlykgol green jade boulders


For those which appreciate white nephrite jade, Mr. Cerasi sells also diverse pieces from the Vitim area with one cut-in-two river boulder showing the typical “Khotan/Yurungkash” reddish skin so much sought after by the Chinese jade carvers.


I include the pictures of these jade roughs for your enjoyment and, in the case that you need such special material for your carving projects, ask you to contact Mr. Cerasi directly. The material is already in Italy and thus not submitted to the uncertain Russian export regulations.    
The white nephrite river jade from the Vitim area with the russet skin




Jade carving in Suzhou, China

Suzhou, also called the Venice of the East because of its picturesque canals or City of the Gardens, is town with about 700.000 inhabitants one hour driving west of Shanghai.


Since ancient times, Suzhou is also one of the centers of fine jade carving and, during a recent stay in China, I managed a short visit there.



Jade carving is carried out as a cottage industry in the south-eastern part of the old town (Suzhou 1) along the numerous small roads off the Xiang Wang Lu.





A carver's workplace

A typical jade carving shop consists typically in a 4x4m room in which three to four carvers work and many times also cook, eat and sleep. When you stroll along the Xian Wang back alleys you can see numerous Chinese signs of jade painted hastily on the walls indicating that behind a door or courtyard such jade carving is carried out. You are welcome to wander in, observe their work and enquire about carvings available and their always too high prices.


Please inspect my ware!

These carvings are mostly of small size consisting in pendants and small animals made from good quality Xinjiang white jade. The carving is done on standardized horizontal spindle workstation of Chinese manufacture (about 500 US$ per unit) by the local artist.

Typical Suzhou small white jade carvings

In a division of labor, the final and less creative step, the polishing of the carving, is done by specialized workshops which I have not been able to locate/see. The working conditions are not the best especially what concerns the cramped quarters and the poor lighting which strains the eyes of the artist. Although very fine details are carved, no magnifying glasses or loupes are used.


Belt buckle in watery green Geermu white jade with Taotie mask design

Unfinished pendant in cloudy green Xinjiang Jade

  Pendants in white and dark green-to-black Khotan jade


A more up-scale jade shop in the Xiang Wang Lu quarter

Available jade mountain scenes in a pale green-white Khotan jade

Lone pine and sage mountain scene in pale green-to-white Khotan jade

Next to these small jade carving shops also larger facilities are located in and around Suzhou but they turn out more the standard "tourist" ware and less this "artisan jade" with all its individualities and styles.

More up-scale jade selling is ocurring near the center of old Suzhou in a building on the Quan Qian street just off the main pedestrian street. 


 Da Chen Fong gate at the entrance of the Quan Qian road (at Suzhou 2 on Google Earth picture) 

Entrance to the jade shops building
  No need to hurry - the prices are going only one direction - up!

Some very nice carvings are available as also a good-to-excellent but terribly expensive selection of Khotan Yurungkash River white jade pebbles and boulders.

   Discussing how to get the most out of a Khotan white jade river pebble


A veritable black Karakash River jade pendant (left) and a deep green one with gold line decoration

A small cup carved from a white jade pebble with a thick red skin

 So if you are close by and have a ton of money, visit Suzhou and its jade carvers and don't forget to report it on!



Top jade auction prices in 2007

The publishing house Artouch ( in Taipei, Taiwan is publishing each year an overview with the title “Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Auction”. In this soft cover book the editors of Artouch list in a very complete and systematic way the items offered by key auction houses during the previous calendar year. It contains a large section on jade items which, in the 2008 edition covering the 2007 auctions, shows on 135 pages approximately 1000 jades.


For each jade a short description of the item is given together with the auction house name, lot number, auction date and items size. The information is completed with the estimated price range and the realized final price. A list of Chinese art auctions and the addresses of the auction houses completes the information. The book, with a total of 773 pages includes also chapters on other Chinese art items such as ceramics, ancient pottery and ceramics, ancient bronze, sculptures, furniture, snuff bottles and ancillary works of art.

    Volume 2005 is out of print!


I have selected the top 10 items of 2007 and present them here for your information and personal enjoyment. The conversion into US dollar is based on the 11/2008 exchange rate




Position 10

Auction date 10/9 – Sotheby’s – Lot 1310 – length 43cm

A superbly carved white jade “Ruyi” scepter, Qianlong period

HK 3,000,000 – 4,000,000 – HK 8,272,500 (US$ 1,126,202)



Position 9

Auction date 10/9 – Sotheby’s – Lot 1332 – Book 8x6.6cm – Box: 13.8x12.1x8cm

An imperial “Prajnaparamita Sutra” jade book together with its craved zitan box and cover, Qianlong period

HK 4,500,000 – 6,000,000 – HK 10,183,500 (US$ 1,131,085)



Position 8

Auction date 10/9 – Sotheby’s – Lot 1210 – height 19.8cm

An exceptional and very large rare yellow jade double carp vase, mark and period Qianlong

HK 8,000,000 – 10,000,000 – HK 10,631,500 (US$ 1,371,895)



Position 7

Auction date 11/27 – Christies – Lot 1543 – height 20.3cm

An important yellow jade vase and cover, 13th – 17th century

HK 3,000,000 – 5,000,000 – HK 12,087,500 (US$ 1,559,778)



Position 6

Auction date 3/22 – Christies – Lot 132

A very rare and important set of ten inscribed white jades, Song Dynasty and later

US$ 400,000 – 600,000 – US$ 1,832,000



Position 5

Auction date 11/27 – Christies – Lot 1511 – diameter 25cm

A magnificent pair of white jade circular screens, Qianlong period

HK 6,000,000 – 5,000,000 – HK 18,247,500 (US$ 2,354,668)



Position 4

Auction date 10/9 – Sotheby’s – Lot 1334 – height 15.3cm

An exquisitely carved white jade “pine” brush pot, Qianlong period

HK 6,000,000 – 8,000,000 – HK 18,807.500 (US$ 2,426.931)

This same brush pot had been auctioned in 2003 by Sotheby’s and fetched then HK 1,742,400!



Position 3

Auction date 4/8 – Sotheby’s – Lot 603 – 30.8cm disc 23.8cm

An exceptionally large and extremely rare dated zitan stand with a mounted archaic jade bi, Eastern Han dynasty, the inscription and the stand date to the Gengyin year (1890)

HK 34,480,000 (US$ 4,449,319)



Position 2

Auction date 4/8 – Sotheby’s – Lot 602 – box 12cm, ring diameter 3cm

An extraordinary group of seven jade imperial archer’s rings with its original fitted cinnabar box and cover, mark and period Qianlong

HK 47,360,000 (US$ 6,111,362)



Position 1

Auction date 11/27 – Christies – Lot 1518 – diameter 19.5cm

A magnificent white jade cylindrical brush pot, Qianlong period

HK 10,000,000 – 15,000,000 – HK 54,087,500 (US$ 6,979,668)



Next to these magnificent items also imperial seals in jade made the headlines with extraordinary prices realized in auctions



Auction date 3/20 – Sotheby’s – Lot 626 – 13x13cm

The “Shi Quan Zhi Bao” an extremely important imperial green jade seal, Qianlong period

US$ 800,000 – 1,000,000 – US$ 1,608,000



Auction date 11/27 – Christies – Lot 1861 – 8.2x8.2x8cm

An important imperial “Emperor Emeritus” with jade seal, Qianlong period

HK 6,000,000 – 8,000,000 – HK 16,007,500 (US$ 2,065,617)



Auction date 10/9 – Sotheby’s – Lot 1303 – 12.6x2.6cm, 2.6cmx1.6cm

A pair of very fine white jade imperial “Dragon” seals, Qianlong period

HK 5,000,000 – 7,000,000 – HK 16,007,500 (?) (US$ 2,065,617)



 Auction date 10/9 – Sotheby’s – Lot 1301 – 4.5cm

An important and superb imperially inscribed “Tai Shang Huang Di” white jade seal, mark and period Qianlong

HK 15,000,000 – 20,000,000 – HK 46,247,500 (US$ 5,967,804)


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