Subject:What are these gold or silver glittering found on your jade pieces?
Posted By: Bill Fri, Aug 24, 2007 IP: 18.104.22.168
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.