Personal Affects: Is it jade?

Question: Jerry, this was owned by my step-father and it’s been in our family for years and years. Is it jade? What would it be worth, if anything? What about that tag with the real seal on it? Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

Answer: You know I come across a lot of “jade” pieces like this. People bring them back from far flung trips overseas. BUT, many, many times, they come with a darker side. Well, not things like that, but they aren’t always what they seem to be. They come in pretty padded boxes, silken pouches or even in beautiful frames. They come with important looking certificates, that tout all kinds of wonderful statements. 

Here is where your tag comes in. Honestly, I think your tag, is just that, a price

tag with a wax stamp on the back for inventory. 

Now, in my defense, I can’t read Chinese, so I don’t know what it says. Here is what I do know.

I think that based on its design and color this is a piece of serpentine and not jade. For centuries they have been confused with each other. Date wise I’d wager that it’s going to date to the 1920s or so.

Being serpentine, it is softer than jade. Let’s talk about that. The mohs hardness scale lists stones in order of hardness. Diamond is a 10 and talc is a 1. Serpentine is about a 4 and jadeite is from 6 – 7. So, that means it’s easier to carve and cut. And that means that it’s easier to get more into the market place. So, that means that you’ll see a lot of it in the more touristy venues. As a side note though, these are stone and they are fragile, and when dropped will break. Make a small scratch in a discrete spot. If it scratches easily, you’re assured that it’s serpentine.

It’s a pretty piece with its somewhat crude design of three boys(?). I expect this piece with its padded brocade box would be priced for about $40. Thanks for a great question.