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Subject:Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: Super Sun, Apr 08, 2018 IP:

There are a few of us who are jade lovers and collectors who frequently posted in this forum. A while ago, there were more of us including some very experienced and knowledgeable jade collectors/experts. Now many of them had gone somewhere else or are no longer pursuing the collecting of jade. The sad part is no matter how serious a jade collector we are, sooner or later we would have to liquidate our jade collections unless our children or successors would love and treasure jade as much as us. My daughter already told my wife and me that she would sell everything in our house two for a dollar. I believe she would. Most young people today do not really collect anything, they would not buy expensive furniture, just bought them cheap from Ikea, or ordered them from Costco or Sam's Club, then throw them away when they become sick of them. These days, even most charities would not pick up old furniture.

I believe unless you can acquire a lot of real knowledge in jade and/or have a deep pocket, and are lucky enough, the chance of any of us to build a decent jade collection or find some real jade bargains today has become very low. Worse, I believe buying jades on line had become extremely TREACHEROUS.

During the last US recession, around 2007-2009, some decent jade carvings could still be found on even eBay, a lot of older jade that were brought back to USA from China or Hong Kong were listed on eBay, some cheaply, either because family members' downsizings or passing away or due to the recession. Even many of the fake jade from China were made of decent material such as nephrite, agate, jasper and lapis. My friend bought a very tall and big Liangzhu style cong that weighed over 100 lbs but was made of nice celadon nephrite (we tested it), paying more for the postage (around US$300) than the piece. One cannot even buy nice nephrite material like that even then.
Today, price of British Columbia raw jade had skyrocketed to as high as $1500 a kg.
Ernest can probably shed more light on this since he resides in BC.

I just took a look at eBay:

A piece that was listed as "Superb Antique Chinese Qing Celadon Jade Ruyi Cup" with about a hour left was at GCP 1,905 (about US$ 2,683.19):

The seller was located at Hayle, Cornwall, United Kingdom.

I surely hope the bidders know what they are doing and would not be surprised if the final winner is from China. Many of them have deep pockets these days.

Another piece listed by the same seller - Fine Antique Chinese White Jade Squirrel And Grapes Pendant/Toggle

was at GBP 626 (US$881.72). The seller would not accept return and interestingly the titles of both items just said jade, did not say Hetain jade or nephrite jade, therefore if they were made of softer stone, well, too bad.

That actually is not why I posted this thread.
By searching nephrite on eBay, I found many there are quite a few so called "Antiques Chinese Celadon Nephrite Hand carved Jade" pieces that were being listed by differe sellers in China, all stared with a 0.99 bid with free postage:

Coincidence? Take a look at let me know what you think.

(To be continued, has to pick up the wife from work).

Subject:Re: Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: Super Mon, Apr 09, 2018

If you search "Celadon Nephrite Jade" you would find at least four sellers in China and one in USA who are listing "jade" items (look white on screen)on eBay with title including these three words. They all started their bids at US$ 0.99 per item. The Chinese sellers provided free postage and $10 postage by the US seller. All give 14 days return privilege. There is a UK seller who listed similar items, started with a minimum bid of GBP 0.99, postage of GBP 12.99 (about US$ 18.30)and with a 30-day return.

At first glance, these items almost appear to be vintage nephrite jade carvings until one would take a closer look at them.

Using this piece
as an example:

This item received a total of 8 bids and a winning price of $40. First few pictures of this item do show an item that was possibly be made of celadon nephrite jade.

However, if one would examine the last three pictures (listed here), the surface of this bottle looks very suspicious. It looks almost like it was made of glass though I could not see any bubbles and cannot tell for sure without testing it.

The scary part about celadon jade carvings is that many of them were made of serpentine jade (xiu yu or xiu yan jade) which usually can be scratched and with a much lower density (about 2.5-2.7) than that of nephrite (about 2.82 or higher). But it is very hard to tell from pictures alone. Therefore, nice celadon nephrite jade carving, IMHO, is actually more difficult to find, believe or not.

This seller had listed another similar piece:

Antiques Chinese Celadon Nephrite Hand carved Jade Statue/snuff bottle

and to me it is equally suspicious.

He has many other Antiques Chinese Celadon Nephrite listed also.

These are similar pieces are listed by other sellers in China:

and from this one US seller:

now to be honest, the celadon nephrite jade pieces listed by the US seller are a bit nicer than those offered by the Chinese sellers and most of them appeared to be white on my screen. However I do not believe they could be made of real nephrite jade.

May be others can order one or two from these sellers and test them? I would try if I can get one cheap. Thoughts?

Subject:Jade items offered by a UK seller? Are they real jades?
Posted By: Super Mon, Apr 09, 2018

When I searched for vintage jade items I came across this one UK seller and this is one of the items listed:

FINELY CARVED CHINESE Jade Statue/ Pendant o15

and the description in the listing:
"Most of my Items are Vintage or Antique. They are not new have been handled, enjoyed and will have age appropriate use wear. Please keep this in mind when bidding and check photo's carefully as they are part of description. And what you see is what you will get . And photo are very important part of my description ."

While it can indeed be a modern carving but the texture of its material looks quite nice.

The seller confirmed this piece is celadon but when I asked him/her twice about if this piece can be scratched. The seller did not respond.

Later, based on the sizes and weight of this piece provided in the listing:
even after compensating for 30% carved space, the S.G. of it cannot be higher than 2.55. Therefore I am almost 90% sure it was made of cheap serpentine, and not nephrite.

But this seller is extremely smart, she avoided answer question related to scratch test, she only called it jade (definition of jade is never defined on eBay or by other auction houses)and she offered a 30-day return.

She also offered some pretty "nice" finely carved "white" jade items like this one:


which appear to be white nephrite jade with the gold fish and frog(?) on the piece using the yellow part of the stone to carve. But with so many pieces that were so perfectly carved, it almost appears the subject may be artificially stained. Thoughts?

I believe most of her "jade" pieces are modern pieces that were made of soft stones. I believe she obtained them cheaply from China. Now, a few of her jadeite do look to be made of genuine jadeite, but.....

If the postage (for both sipping and returning) are not so expensive, I would be tempted to win a piece to study it further.

Anybody resides in UK and wants to get a piece from this seller to study?

Subject:Re: Jade items offered by a UK seller? Are they real jades?
Posted By: David Tue, Apr 10, 2018

Very informative. My gratitude for the clear effort undertaken. I have learn't a great deal. Thanks

Subject:Re: Jade items offered by a UK seller? Are they real jades?
Posted By: Super Wed, Apr 11, 2018

Hi, David:

You are very welcome. It is not my intention to lecture anybody since I readily admit I do not know enough about jade to lecture others. But the more I learned about jade sometime the more discouraging I became because it is really not easy to acquire any nice and antique jade carvings. Forget about archaic jades, because I believe most of them are fakes or good imitations, even those that were sold by large auction houses. Forget about Neolithic jades, I had only seen one authentic one when a jade collector once tried to liquidate his whole Annam (Vietnamese) Neolithic jade collection on eBay and show some of them here. Many of them were broken pieces (like broken bracelets) but I immediately knew it was the real McCoy because the jade material used to make those jade bracelet was high quality Bi Yu (dark green nephrite jade) with staining that could only came from archaic jade. Anita Mui who once posted in this forum and later had her own forum was lucky enough to obtain a piece or two from this collector (Chad?). I did not know he would sell off single piece because his listing was for a whole collection. Now I truly regret I did not try to acquire a piece. I believe Anita might have posted pictures of some of the pieces from that collection in this forum but I could not find them. I did find this thread:
in which she mentioned about Chad's collection.
One of the pictures she posted (posted here also), shows the dark green jade material and staining of the jade bird on the left and large jade bracelet (ring) at the right that resemble those pieces in the jade collection. Without the privilege of obtaining and examining those pieces in the collection, I cannot say for sure they are 100% authentic but if any of these pieces show up in small auctions today, I believe they would fetch high prices. Sadly, large auction houses would probably turn down large collections like this due to a lack of provenance.

Another interesting myth is that average people/jade collectors may believe the older or more archaic the jades are, the more corroded (degraded) they would become. IMHO, that is absolutely not true because:
(1) Since in Neolithic and ancient China, it took a lot of time to "carve" and polish a jade carving. As a matter of fact, in early Qing dynasty, before polishing with "high" polishing material (e.g. quartz, diamond) was invented, it took one year or longer to polish a jade piece. Even today, with modern technology, for a master jade carver to finish a master piece (both carving and polishing, etc.), it will take one year or longer. Therefore you seldom see "inferior" material was being used to made any jade carvings in Qing dynasty or earlier. Most of the jade material used in making jade carvings in ancient China were hetian jades that were exported from Xinjiang (Hotan), sales of which, like sales of salt was being controlled by the government. In most dynasties, Xianjiang is not part of the Chinese border, until Qing Emperor QianLong had stopped the rebels in Xianjian, only then larger quantity of Hetian jades were being able to be transported from Xianjaing to the capital of China. A pair of white Hetian jade bowls, just material alone cost 5,000 taels of silver at that time, that is why today many authentic Qianlong jade carvings will cost a fortune. Another interesting fact is that it is not until middle Qing dynasty (I forget the exact year), jadeite was being considered as "jade" and used in the making of jade carvings. This is why if you ever see any Tang dynasty and Song dynasty jadeite carving for sales, you should take them with a grain of salt. In Song dynasty, the emperors were so weak and transport of quality hetian jade were greatly limited (many foreign invasions). Therefore, there were not as many nice heitan jade carvings from Song dynasty comparing with that from Qing dynasty.

Now for burial, a lot of time, because of the lesser status of some of the deceased or urgency of burial, lower quality of local jades (serpentine, etc.) were used.

In short, jade material, such as those used on authentic Hongshan jade, were often quality nephrite jade similar to Hetian jade, could not be scratched and nephrite jade was harder to be corroded even after long burial, many real Hongshan jades only needed to be cleaned and washed with soap and water, they would appear to be pristine;

(2) Quality polishing enable jade to stand long burial - many Neolithic or archaic jade pieces were polishing by hand, with animal belt and fat, for a long period of time. Therefore, it created a protective area and because of their quality material (nephrite, etc.), even if they were buried, it was very hard for them to be corroded unless they were damaged (if you do not believe me, try to obtain a nice piece of quality Heitan jade carving or dark green nephrite jade carving with great polishing (you can put some Vaseline on their surfaces), then put them in acid. I do not believe most acid will damage them.
(3) Burial - another myth is that all burial jades must be corroded by weather or soil element. For Hongshan burial, the jade carvings were stored in almost air tight stone coffins and then buried in higher ground, therefore the chance of the jade carving getting wet and had direct contact with soil was rare. In many large tombs in China, again, burial jades might not have direct contacts with air or burial elements. Even some of those wooden coffins in past century sometime lasted a long time, acting a protective barrier for burial jades.

I believe it would be lucky just for us to acquire some nice and authentic Qing dynasty jade carvings instead of trying to acquire any archaic or Neolithic jades.

In this Auction Results
Qing dynasty jades from a Hong Kong Collection
01 June 2017 | 10:00 AM HKT | Hong Kong

There were tons of very nice Qing dynasty jade carvings with their realized prices which sold for a total of 9.94 Hong Kong dollars, about 1.27M US dollars at the exchange rate of 1 USD to 7.85 HK dollars. It appeared that many of these pieces were sold above their estimates and were not cheap. The cheapest price I saw was around USD$4000.

This is the link for realized prices in USD:

Therefor I believe buying any white or celadon nephrite jade carving, especially those that were labeled as antique, Qing dynasty or Hetian jade can only be taken with a grain of salt.



Subject:Re: Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: Eduardo Thu, Aug 16, 2018

Hello Super,
Would you say this is an acid treated jade? I personally feel the inclusions are natural, but some small areas are making me doubtful.

Subject:Re: Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: Super Fri, Aug 31, 2018

Hi, Eduardo:

I cannot be sure without examining this piece in person but I do not like all these white spots spreading on its surface especially those on its front. I believe it was possibly that the piece was being dipped in either acid or alkaline (which is stronger than acid, sometime)to create this effect of "weathering". I also do not like these carving lines on its top (top picture)because it appears to be made of low grade nephrite therefore it should not be able to be scratched and left scratch lines. It is possibly some of the acid/alkaline resident deposited into these lines. You can try to smell it and see if you can smell any chemical. I usually judge the quality of a piece by its material since judging by carving takes a long time to master. I am not really impressed by the quality of this piece (sorry) which appears to be made of low-grade Mount Kunlun nephrite jade and not quality Hetian nephrite jade of which most good burial pieces were made. Therefore, I would guess that it would be at best a modern piece that was made within the last 100 years. Of course, I can be wrong. It is almost impossible to appraise any jade carving with low-resolution pictures. Thanks for sharing.


P.S. It is almost a wrong conception that archaic burial jade pieces should appear to be corroded and full of weathering, that is simply not always true. Some time, if the deceased is of lower status or the time to prepare a burial was short, it was possible that the burial jades could be made of local jade material such as Xiu-yan jade (serpentine) or Dushan jade that are "softer" stone and they could indeed be corroded if bury in soil for a long time. However, many of the tombs were dry and many burial jades were made of high quality Hetian nephrite jade (or similar material), they were also well polished (acting as protective layer), therefore those burial jades would only need to be cleaned with soap and water and they would appear to be pristine and look "NEW". This is actually the case with many authentic Hongshan jades. If one would dip a good nephrite jade piece in most acid, nothing would actually happen to the piece unless it was cracked before dipping.

Subject:Re: Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: Eduardo Sat, Sep 01, 2018

Hey, thanks a lot for your opinion! In the meanwhile, I have had the opportunity to handle the piece, and you are absolutely right. A very low grade jade piece, evidently with accelerated corrosion marks. I wouldn't be surprised if it has been made over the last 10 years or so.

Subject:Re: Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: rat Fri, Aug 17, 2018

nice to see your posts, Super. I agree jades are a tough field, one reason I have never gotten into it. Those I like are all too expensive anyway...

Subject:Re: Buying jade carvings on eBay or on line can be TREACHEROUS!
Posted By: Super Fri, Aug 31, 2018

Hi, rat:

Nice to hear from you. Jade collecting is a very expensive hobby, one would be better off buying stocks or collecting gold/silver coins. It is like collecting Chinese antiques, most of them are fakes.
The sad part is as I learned more about jades I found out that I really could not afford to buy and hold any "genuine" pieces. Even if I would find an authentic Neolithic or archaic jade carving, without the proper provenance, to try to fetch decent price for it is almost nil. How I wish I could have bought some really niece jadeite carvings in the 60s. These days, quality jadeite jewelries had become extinct or too expensive.
During the last recession (around 2008 and 2009) I was able to buy some decent jade carvings that were bought from China/Hong Kong into USA but now almost most "jades" that were sold on eBay or some small auctions were basically junks or overpriced junks. Therefore, buyers beware. Regards.
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