The demand for jade gemstones and jewelry is on the rise. If you plan on buying jade either as an investment or solely out of interest in jewelry, you should know that there are three important things that determine the value of jade — color, cabochons, and maintenance.
Evaluating color and translucency
The quality of a jade stone’s color is judged by taking into account three components — its hue, saturation, and tone. The finest quality jade is considered to be a vibrant, emerald green color. Known as “imperial jade,” such stones can easily command millions on the market. These gems should not contain even the slightest gray or brown modifiers. With regard to saturation, the color must appear intense even from a distance. The preferred tone for jade is medium, meaning that it should not be too dark or light. Plus, the color distribution must be perfect, without any spotting or veins on the stone.
Jade’s translucency ranges from transparent to opaque. “The best jadeite is semi-transparent, meaning the text you can read through it would be slightly blurred. Because light penetrates below the surface, semi-transparent jadeite has an alluring brilliance. It almost appears to glow, increasing the charm of a lush green or rich lavender hue. The least desirable jadeites are completely opaque or have opaque or cloudy patches that break up their transparency,” according to GIA.
The finest quality jade is typically cut as cabochons, which means that it is shaped and polished rather than keeping it faceted. The premium standard used for jade is 14×10 mm. At present, double cabochons are considered the best for top-grade stones, since the convex bottom ends up intensifying the color of jade. Hollow cabochons are the least-valued.
Important factors to consider when judging cabochons “are the contour of the dome, the symmetry and proportions of the cabochon, and its thickness. Cabochon domes should be smoothly curved, not too high or too flat, and should have no irregular flat spots. Proportions should be well balanced, not too narrow or wide, with a pleasing length-to-width ratio… The best-cut cabochons have no flaws or unevenness of color that is visible to the unaided eye,” according to Louts Gemology.
Caring for jade
The value of jade can only be maintained if the jade receives proper care. You should only use water mixed with mild soap to clean jade. Avoid household detergents or jewelry cleaners that contain harsh chemicals. Use soft cotton pads to gently wipe the surface of the jade to avoid scratching. Never put the stone in water. You should also avoid using steam cleaners or ultrasonic jewelry cleaners.
“When wearing jade, be careful not to hit the stone as it may easily crack or chip. Chlorine, which is often added to water in pools and to tap water, can be harmful to jade, so make sure you take off your jade jewelry before you swim or take a shower. It’s best to avoid contact of jade with makeup, perfume, hair spray, and other chemicals that may have an adverse effect on the stone’s surface,” according to Jewelry Notes.
As far as storage is concerned, keep jade separate from other gemstones as it can get easily scratched. If you have no choice but to put it with other stones, be sure to wrap the jade in a soft cloth. If unfortunately it gets damaged, you can still sell the jade for some value provided it has recut potential.