Buying jade jewelry is increasingly popular with both talented amateurs and souvenir hunters. However, while it was once comparatively easy to pick up a cheap piece of jade jewelry for cheap in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, times have long changed. Buying jade for the right price, let alone a good price, is increasingly different.
Hong Kong and Taiwan remain the centre for the jade trade but the market is now flooded with imitation jade – sometimes being passed off as genuine – and lower grade jade. There are very few genuine bargains available. The jade in Hong Kong and Taiwan is still competitively priced and you can save money on jade here, just not the legendary savings of yester year. Ultimately, real jade is expensive.
If you’re in Hong Kong, your main port of call will be the Jade Market in Tsim Sha Tsiu, where dozens of sellers are clustered. The vast majority of the stuff on the sprawl of stalls are actually trinkets and souvenirs but there are also serious sellers here doing business.
1. Do your research
As with anything you buy - especially if it’s a large investment - make sure you know what you want. There is a huge variety of jade, from yellowish and opaque stones to deep green, and different types have different price tags (deep green and white jade attract the highest prices and are relatively rare). Whichever type of jade you are interested in buying, be sure to check the prices at jewellers, both in your home country and wherever you’re buying the jade. Shop around. This will give you an idea of the market value of certain pieces and allow you to make smart decisions about the price when negotiating.
2. Can’t believe the price? Then don’t
This is really a simple tip but it still seems to catch a lot of folks out. If a seller is offering a stone for well below market price, claiming it’s pure, deep green jade and/or thousand of years old, just walk away. These sort of bargains don’t exist. Scams on the other hand do exist.
3. Check the stone
We don’t purport to be jade experts and if you are making any sort of major investment in jade, you certainly need to get the piece checked out by an independent expert. That said, there are some tips that can help you spot real jade. When buying jade the stone should be smooth and cool to the touch. Real jade is also very tough, so there should be no scratches on the surface. If you can scratch the stone with your fingernail, it’s an imitation. Fake jade can often feel lighter than the real thing.
4. Get a Certificate
For a big ticket piece of jade, the seller should be able to offer you a certificate of authenticity. This is jade that has been scanned and checked. The classification runs from A-D and is used internationally, although most sellers will only hold certificates for Grade A jade. It’s worth noting that all grades – from A-D – are ‘real jade’ just of differing quality and value. In grades B and C the jade has usually been treated with chemicals and may have had color added.
5. Imitation jade isn’t always the enemy
Glass, plastic and all other sorts of minerals are used to create imitation jade, while the lowest opaque jade can be relatively inexpensive. As long as the seller is upfront about exactly what they are selling, there is no reason you shouldn’t pick up a piece of imitation jade. Some of the pieces are very attractive.