The most expensive jadeite is called “Imperial Jade,” a semi-transparent stone with a vivid, emerald-green hue.
If you are looking to sell a jade ring or other item of jadeite jewelry, the first question on your mind is likely, “How much is my jade worth?” There are various factors which impact the value of a jade, and we will cover each one in this article on appraising the value of jade, in particular the most valuable variety, jadeite.
Jadeite is one of two kinds of gem material that can correctly be referred to as jade. The other variety, nephrite, has a different crystal and chemical composition, and though the ancient Chinese had a particular affinity to nephrite jade, when jadeite was discovered in Burma in the late 1700s, it quickly became the more treasured gemstone.
Although most people normally associate jadeite with the color green, jadeite is available in a wide variety of colors, including yellow, red, orange, lavender, brown, white, black, and gray. Many times a single piece of jadeite will exhibit more than one color. Today, the highest quality jadeite remains rare and can command quite high prices.
The ultimate value of a particular piece of jadeite is dependent on many factors. The most important value factor is color, but transparency, texture, clarity, and even the way the stone is cut or carved can greatly affect the ultimate price of a particular piece. Unlike most other gemstones, jadeite is usually sold by the piece, and not by carat weight.
How Jade Color Affects Value
Color is by far the most important factor when evaluating jadeite. The most expensive jadeite is called “Imperial Jade,” a semi-transparent stone with a vivid, emerald-green hue. The color is penetrating and pure, with no hints of gray.
So coveted is this gem that the royal court of China once had a standing order for all Imperial Jade, and it remains one of the world’s most expensive gems, sometimes valued in the millions of dollars.
The green in jadeite can range from pure green to slightly yellowish green or slightly bluish green. Other varieties of green colored jadeite include “kingfisher jade,” which is a slightly less vivid green than Imperial Jade, and “apple jade,” which exhibits an intense yellowish green.
The next most valuable color for jadeite is lavender. Even when highly saturated and intense, lavender jadeite still cannot command the top prices of high-quality green jadeite varieties, though it can be worth much more than some of the lesser quality green hues. Black, reddish, and orange jades can be popular, though they are not valued as highly as lavender.
Color in jadeite is generally valued for its uniformity of hue, tone, and saturation throughout the stone. But often jadeite occurs with uneven color distribution, with streaks or mottling that resemble plant roots or veins. Known in the trade as “variegated,” or by the descriptive moniker “moss in snow,” these varieties tend to have lower values, though the intensity of contrast and particular pattern can lead to an attractive and coveted piece.
Since the color of jadeite so greatly determines its value, some jadeite is treated to enhance its color. “Bleached” jade (sometimes called B jade) is bleached to remove discolorations, and then impregnated with colored polymers, and is in no way considered as valuable as untreated jadeite.
How Jade Transparency Affects Value
Jadeite can range in transparency from completely opaque to nearly transparent. Totally opaque jade would appear dull, and not hold any light in it, whereas semi-transparent jadeite might appear to glow from within, holding light that seems to permeate the stone.
Opaque jadeite or stones with cloudy patches typically have the least value, and semi-transparent jadeite, in which light can penetrate below the surface, is the most highly prized. Interestingly, jadeite with good transparency can be highly valued even when its color is uneven or low in saturation.
How Jade Texture Affects Value
The texture of jadeite is generally smooth, but it can vary depending on the size and hardness of the crystals themselves. These texture variations run from fine to medium to coarse, and are directly related to transparency—generally speaking, the finer the texture, the higher the transparency, and therefore, the value. The texture of jadeite, from fine to coarse is sometimes referred to as “old mine,” “relatively old mine,” and “new mine” respectively.
How Jade Cut Affects Value
Jadeite is often cut into cabochons for use in various kinds of jewelry, including rings, earrings, and bracelets. Aside from its color, cabochon cut jadeite is judged for its symmetry, proportion, and thickness. Ideal cabochon domes should be smoothly curved, with no irregular flat spots, and no unevenness or flaws visible to the naked eye.
Some fine jadeite is carved into round beads, which are then carefully matched for strands in color, and texture, as well as transparency, size, and symmetry of cut. Because matching the color of jadeite beads is quite difficult, long strands of well matched and larger beads can command extremely high prices.
Bangle bracelets are another popular style of jadeite jewelry. Bangles carved from a single piece of jadeite require a large amount or rough stone, and as a result can be extremely expensive. Many bangles are carved from mottled jadeite as the carving can actually hide imperfections, but the highest quality jadeite bangles can be true treasures.
Get a Free Imperial Jade Appraisal
Contact Diamond Estate Jewelry Buyers today for a free verbal appraisal of your jadeite ring, necklace, brooch, earrings, or loose Imperial Jade gemstone. You can also get the process started online by telling us about the jadeite jewelry you wish to sell in the contact form below.
IMPORTANT: Please note that we only purchase the highest quality jadeite, which ordinarily falls under the category of “Imperial Jade.” The jade jewelry & gemstones sold to tourists in Hong Kong and Chinatown neighborhoods in the U.S. is rarely of this quality and we cannot offer to purchase these items or offer appraisals of their value.