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Subject:What are these gold or silver glittering found on your jade pieces?
Posted By: Bill Fri, Aug 24, 2007 IP:

Discovery of metallic spots/patches on jades

A while ago, while my friend, B, and I were studying our jade pieces, we made an interesting discovery – on a few of our jade pieces, there are some types of gold or silver spots on their surfaces. Some times they appear as glistening metallic (gold or silver) spots or small patches on the jade surface and sometimes they are just appear below the surface. It is almost impossible to capture such metallic spots or patches with a camera and even when you examine the piece, you have to place it close to a light source and then move it in different angles so that you may see these glittering. Some time the spots and patches are very large and sometimes they are very tiny. However, you cannot miss them because they will just shine at your face. We are curious as to what these metallic spots/patches meant.

Definition of the terms used to describe these metallic spots or patches

I studied all my jade books and searched for articles on internet and I did find some reference regarding this type of phenomenon.

The golden spots or patches are usually labeled as “Ding Jin Qin” (Nail Golden Stain) or “Jin Ding Qin” (Golden Nail Stain). The word “Jin” means gold; the word “ding” means nail; the word “Qin” (in Mandarin) is the same as the word “Chum” (Cantonese) as in “Chum-sik” (Color diffusion), therefore “Qin” is actually a type of “Color Diffusion” or “color filtration”. I just call it as “Golden Nail Stain” so that it can be uniform.

The reason the word “nail” is used to describe this type of metallic spots is that these spots are the size of holes that will be left by hitting a nail on the jade surface with a hammer. If you use a large nail, the spots will be bigger; a smaller nail, the spots will be smaller. The “Jin” word describes the color of the spots – gold.

Therefore, for the silver spots found on any jade pieces, they will be labeled as “Ding Yin Qin” (Nail silver stain) or “Yin Din Qin” (Silver nail stain) where “Yin” means silver and the rest of the words are the same as those in Gold Nail Stain.

Possible explanations for the formation of these metallic spots

According to all the researches I have done, these are the possible explanations for such metallic spots:

(1) During burial of a jade piece, the jade piece came into contact with metallic elements naturally occurred in the environment and such elements reacted with the jade surfaces and as a result created such metallic spots. (*The only problem is that some of these metallic spots are discovered below the jade surface and I have never heard any metallic elements can migrate through a tough nephrite surface with no cracks.)

(2) The metallic elements inside the jade pieces migrate toward to jade surface due to abrupt changes in temperature at the environment they were buried. This will take a long time to achieve. (*The problem with this theory is that nobody can prove it so far.)

(3) Such metallic spots occur naturally in a certain type of jade materials and therefore such phenomenon can be quite common. As a matter of fact, when I brought up this subject to be discussed in the other forum, one jade pal immediately said that this was a very common phenomenon and the gold spots were due to pyrite found in nephrite. (*However there is really not that large a percentage of jades have these types of metallic spots. Out of more than 1,000 pieces of jade carvings owned by my friend, B and I, we found less than 1% of jades have these types of metallic spots. Also, I couldn’t find any articles that say there are pyrites found in nephrite. In lapis lazurite, yes; but not in nephrite.)

What the Chinese believe these Metallic spots indicate?

Interestingly, out of the thirteen types of “Color Diffusion” (Se Qin or Sik Chum) discussed in ancient Chinese jade books, these two kinds of “Qin” – Golden Nail Stain and Silver Nail Stain were never mentioned. Such phenomena have only been discussed by the current jade scholars. It is possible that in earlier dynasties may have the resources to examine so many jade carvings or have their pictures readily available for the scholars. Even today, it is almost impossible to capture such metallic spots on jades on pictures. You almost have to see them in person.

However, almost in every single piece of literature I have read about these two types of metallic stains, the authors did agree on several things:

(1) These types of metallic spots were usually found in very archaic jades (Han or older). How old, nobody seems to know. Some estimated at least one thousand years; some said 1,500 and some said 2,000 years. The fact is nobody knows. Can they prove it? Not at this time.

(*Interestingly, we did find such metallic spots on a very modern jadeite item. We do not how that will affect the above theory since most the studies on metallic spots only apply to nephrite jades.)

(2) Most authors agree that such metallic spots and patches were more often found on dark green nephrite such as those contain large amount of actinolite. (*However, we found them on some light yellow and lighter –colored nephrite too.)

(3) Interestingly, there are a few dark green authentic Hongshan pieces exhibited in the Chinese museums also have these types of metallic spots and in one Hongshan book and one Hongshan jade article, they also mentioned these types of spots.

More References and Pictures

In this message, the author discusses about "Ding Un Chum" (Nail Silver Diffusion).

”I believe basically he believes those silver specks found on jade pieces are caused by contact between jade pieces with other metals or metal elements found in the soil.

He says in the message:

"There are many different types of diffusion (or staining) of jades. One of them is "Silver Staining" which is the crystallization of silver metals on the jade surface. With the presence of "silver staining”
it seems we will have no problem in authenticating a piece of archaic jade. The problem is on most books or reference they only mention "a few thousand years" (refer to jades found with this type of silver staining). I do not understand whether this "a few thousand years" is 1000 years or 3000 years or? There is no definite answer and I cannot figure it out. Since I cannot figure out the exact length of years for the forming of this type of silver stain. If I only depend on the few pieces of jades I own to figure this out, it is possible that it will take me years or even forever to figure it out.

Therefore I would like to ask all these jade experts in this forum to help me solve this problem”

“The authentic and fake Hongshan Jades” talks about Jin Ding Qin


I believe there is simply not enough scientific evidence to agree or disagree with the significance of such metallic spots or patches found on nephrite jade pieces in direct relationship with their ages.

However, from our personal experiences and studies, we do believe that in general the nephrite jade pieces with these types of metallic spots are usually carved better and some are carved in unique jade materials. Therefore, I believe if any jade collectors encounter such jade pieces (with metallic spots or patches) they should pay closer scrutiny to them. They also have to apply other criteria such as styles and forms, carvings, weathering, etc. to fully evaluate the authenticity of such pieces.

I am only bringing up this phenomenon as a topic for discussion and see if anybody out there has seen such metallic spots or patches on their jade pieces and if they do not mind in posting their pieces here and share with us. It is not my intention to promote any jades with such metallic spots or patches because one simply cannot find enough of them to make a living.

Thank you.


Subject:Re: What are these gold or silver glittering found on your jade pieces?
Posted By: Bill Mon, Aug 27, 2007


In the first message:

What the Chinese believe these Metallic spots indicate?

"It is possible that in earlier dynasties may have the resources to examine so many jade carvings or have their pictures readily available for the scholars."

Should be:

"It is possible that in earlier dynasties they may not have the resources to examine so many jade carvings or have their pictures readily available for the scholars."

I apologize for the error.


Subject:Other facts and theories about these metallic spots/pathces
Posted By: Bill Mon, Aug 27, 2007

I just remember several facts about this type of metallic spots/patches (gold or silver):

1. You may find only gold spots/patches or just silver spots/patches by themselves on a jade peice, or you may find both types existed at the same time.

2. Sometimes, some of these spots/patches may turn into a very distinguished looking red color. Like some shinning red glitters.

3. According to a jade book, the author had experimented by putting jade pieces with metallic spots in water over a period of time and to their surprise they found these metallic spots became rusted. Therefore, it is very possible that these metallic spots are that of iron. If that is the case, than these iron spots had to be formed within the jade pieces and not from outside contact. (*Please see opposite theory at the end of this message.)

4. Although it is more common to find these types metallic spots/patches on dark green jades, we have seen them on lighter color jades such as light yellow jade (see first picture shows large light yellow pig dragon posted here; it has lots of golden spots on it. Unfortunately, the picture simply cannot caputure their presences.)



I am also posting here a picture of a dark green pig dragon that was listed at:

The translated description for the pig dragon (also posted) is as follow:

"The special thing about this pig dragon is that along the white spots and white patches some type of greyish-white metals are being secreted. Upon close examination with a magnifying glass, there are metallic spots, metallic strips and metallic patches all over it. When these types of greyish-white metal fell off, there are pits left where the metal were. It is probably due to the fact that after metallic ions were being oxidized and filtered into the jade, they were being secreted out when it was "played" by people. After the secretion of such metals, its "jade veins" and "color" would become much more vivid. This type of phenomenon will only occur on archaic jades that were being stained (or filtered) by metals. This type of experience is only known to those who have consistently appraisd and played with archaic jades."

This author brought up a few interesting theories:

1. He described the metallic spots/strips/patched he saw on this pig dragon as greyish-white.

2. He believed they were created by contact with outside oxidized-metallic elements during burials. He believed these metal could fall off and the original texture/color of the piece would become more vivid.

3. He believed these types of phenomenon could only occur on archaic jades

Subject:Are they golden pyrite spots?
Posted By: Bill Wed, Aug 29, 2007

I have been able to find pictures of two different dark green serpentine spheres displaying some types of gold pyrite spots on their surfaces. However, I have not been able to locate pictures of pyrites found on nephrite yet. However, I did locate a link talking about study of New Zeland nephrite and talk about pyrite can be found in nephrite. The content of this article is extremely interesting and I urge those of you who are interested in learning more about using advance technology in the studying of jades should read this article:

I have been seeing these types of golden or silver spots on a few more of nephrite pieces I acquired recently. More of these pieces did look old and have other signs to show their ages. Their metallic spots are not very pronounced in most the cases and are quite tiny. The thing I believe need to be careful is whether those with this type of metallic spots are indeed old carvings or new carvings made out of old materials. We must check for other signs indicating their ages and carefully examine their carvings in order to make a wise decision.


Subject:Reexamining of jade surfaces with metallic spots
Posted By: Bill Thu, Aug 30, 2007

I just found on some newly bought smaller jade pieces with these types of metallic spots. The spots are very tiny and most of them are silver with some golden mixed in it. They look nothing like the golden pyries shown on those serpentine spheres I listed earlier. Some of the spots turned into "red" color and therefore I believe they are caused by the iron elements found inside the nephrite. Many of these metallic spots are beneath the jade surface. Most of the nephrite peices with these type of spots are darker green. Most of them are quite archaic looking and with other signs that indicating "older" age. However, there is one piece that is definitely a more modern copy with very poor carving and I found a similar piece in another dealer's site. Therefore, at this time it is almost impossible to make a conclusive decision regarding this type of phenomenon. However, I strongly believe many archaic jades do have very dominate and pronounced metallic spots. It would be nice if anybody who have any archaic jades with this same type of metallic spots will share their findings with us.



Subject:Re: Reexamining of jade surfaces with metallic spots
Posted By: Anita Mui Tue, Sep 11, 2007

Dear Bill

Sorry, I haven't look at what you posted here before answering your emails.

You meant this kind of silvery flakes. I think it has nothing to do with how old the jade pieces are. It's just nephrite with high percentage of quartz, even the newly made in the market will have.

I often see the silvery glittering on the corrosion, chipped, and broken part of the old jade pieces, some are all over the pieces, and any jades of any period will have. It just stone that mixed up with glittering mineral in the rock formation process.

The burial environment have nothing to do with that.
"The occurrence of quartz crystals and quartz crystal structures within nephrite is even rarer; the quartz structures have been seen to occur in a state where nephrite replaces the quartz crystal, leaving the outline of the quartz crystal as a pattern or flakes within the nephrite structure. This combined configuration is one of the "GRAND FORMATIONS", combining the properties of both the quartz crystal and the structure totally within the nephrite."

Please do not hate me.

Best regards

Subject:Re: Reexamining of jade surfaces with metallic spots
Posted By: Bill Wed, Sep 12, 2007

Hi, Anita:

Thanks for your comments. No, I would not hate you. However I do have the following requests or questions:

(1) Can you send me the source for your quote regarding quartz flakes inside nephrite?

(2) Secondly, if those metallic spots are that of quartz crystals, how can they be silver or gold color?

(3) How can some of these silver spots, after soaking in water, became a rustly red? I believe they are iron elements occurred inside the nephrite and I do not believe they can be quartz because I never heard of quartz being rusted in water.

(4) It is true that these types of metallic glittering can be found in modernly carved nephrite but is it possible that archaic jade materials (by cutting up large piece of archaic jades) may be used for their carvings or such nephrite may be old stones?

(5) I also notice there are different types of metal glittering. Some are very tiny spots but aome are in larger golden pathces.



Subject:Re: Reexamining of jade surfaces with metallic spots
Posted By: Anita Mui Thu, Sep 13, 2007

Dear Bill

I'm sorry. I'm not geologist who can give you the right answer.

Nephrite is the alteration of amphibolite, it can mix up with any mineral during the rock formation.

These kind of glitterings, I think they called "pseudomorph".

In geology, a pseudomorph is a mineral compound resulting from a substitution process in which the appearance and dimensions remain constant, but the mineral which makes up the chief component of the compound is replaced by another. The name literally means False Form.

The glitterings may be calcite (calcium carbonate), pyrite (iron disulfide), quartz (silicon dioxide)...etc.

Many rocks have quartz. You will see the glitterings in granite, grain of sand..etc.

I do not think that these glitterings will come up and grow inside the rock after the nephrite was buried, because it is in the structure of the stone, the burial environment can not cause the minerals that formed the rock and structure of it changed.

1)I just copied and pasted from the web and do not expect that you need a footnote. If you read that paragraph, you will know that it is not my language, my English is not that good.

2)It can be anything mixed with more or less of termolite and antinolite during the rock formation.

3)I dipped in the water for the pieces I have, it never change any color, you have to do the research for that.

4)All nephrite is old, millions of years after formation. I have no idea that there is a new nephrite is foaming under the earth now. Even the raw material, newly mined nephrite will have that glittering, it is nothing to indicate that the artefacts made of nephrite is old, because the glitterings are already in the stone from the beginning.

5)It can be anything, the real geologist may have the right answer.

I have tried my best.

Have fun

Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Are they golden pyrite spots?
Posted By: melbert sawit Tue, Feb 14, 2017

how much is the price per piece of the egg size like green stone? plz and thankz

Subject:Re: What are these gold or silver glittering found on your jade pieces?
Posted By: Michael woodard Thu, Jan 07, 2021

Hey I have a jade tree sitting on a massive white quarts crystal. The jade has a to of silver flakes. I will send a pic. I have tried to find more jade like this but it has gone with no success. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |