Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tour 1 part 2: jade factory

We hit a jade museum/factory in the late morning, to learn about jade,
how to tell the real stuff from fakes, and to pay a pantload of money
for bits of rock.

Okay, I paid shitloads of money for bits of rock. Cheap by Aussie
standards per item, but I forgot to factor in how much it all added
up :( oh well, the pieces are cute and I wanted some keepsakes to grow
old with.

There are 2 types of jade - hard jade and soft jade. Jadeite, hard
jade, is worth more and usually used for jewellery, while the cheaper
soft jade and agate are used for sculptures because they are easier to

To spot a fake is simple - jade has four properties to look out for:
temperature, sound, texture and hardness.

Temperature - real jade is cool to the touch. Plastic and glass ,
popular counterfeit materials, would not be as cool. This means you'd
prolly need a basis for comparison, but if it's warm like a pie under
display case lights, you could probably assume it's not real.

Sound - real jade makes a lovely TINK sound when you strike it. The
higher the frequency of the TINK, the harder and better quality the

Texture - hold a piece of real jade up to a light. In the translucent
bits, you should find a snowflaky texture. These are referred to as
jade flowers. Over time, green jade worn next to the skin gets greener
- this is told in Chinese storytelling as the flowers blossoming, and
happens quickly if the wearer is in good health. Holding marble
(another popular fakey) and plastic up to a light, you would not see
jade flowers, while holding glass up would likely present bubbles from
when the piece was made. I did this with the stuff I bought today;
much to the relief of my pride, yes, there were flowers. :)

Hardness - finally, real jade is hard. A diamond blade is required to
cut it. So if you're suspicious of a fake, scratch your jade against a
piece of glass. Withbthe real deal, the glass will be quite scratched
while your lovely stonepiece emerges unscathed.

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