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Buying Jade

What do you want? THE BEST!! You are going to spend a lot of time grinding and polishing and then putting your cab in a piece of fine jewelry. You want to be pleased and proud with the result. Therefore, why spend time on a piece that you got for a "bargain" and still looks that way when you are finished.

What qualities do you want? Ideally you want:

What price should you pay? Your dealer prices his jade based on his judgment of quality and rarity. If you are only going to produce a few cabs why buy a big block? Pay the premium for the best you can slab you can find.

How do you find that good slab? Look at the slab when it is dry, not when it is wet. Look at the slab with a strong incandescent light above and behind it. (One with a hood or reflector)

  1. Translucency - Depending on the strength of the light source you can determine the relative translucency of different slabs. Hold the top edge of the slab on the edge of the reflector. Bring the bottom edge toward you so that you can see the range of translucency as the light penetrates into the slab. In some very translucent pieces the light will seem to go right through the width.
  2. Uniformity - You should also note the variations in translucency. Your selection should be the one that is most uniform.
  3. Color - Look both "through" and at the slab. Is the color a bright lively green? or, is it muddy or gray?
  4. Structural weakness - Look at the edge again. Is the edge sharp? Are there little pieces broken out? Are there little cracks? How far into and/or through the slab do they extend.
  5. Surface indications - Look directly at the surface. Is the sawn surface perfectly smooth? (Excluding any saw blade marks). Are there any streaks or ridges? These could indicate hardness in streaks. Look at the surface with the light behind it. Do you detect any internal cracks. Do you see any light or dark streaks? Again these may indicate hardness or softness.

Published in a newsletter in winter of 2003/2004