The three most important qualities of jadeite connected to value are color, transparency and texture.
Color is the most important factor in jadeite. Most people think of jadeite as green but it comes in other colors as well - lavender, red, orange, yellow, brown, white, black and gray.
A pure and penetrating green with no hint of gray to slightly bluish green or a slightly yellowish green are considered some of the most valuable. The “Doubly Fortunate” necklace of intense green color sold at auction for $9.3 million dollars.
Top quality Imperial green hued jadeite
is slightly more yellowish in hue and slightly less saturated. It is not too dark or light and is medium in tone. It is the most valuable jadeite color and is very rare.
Lavender is jadeites second most valued color. When this light purple is highly saturated, it is of the highest quality in the lavender family. When the lavender is too pale or has hints of blue, its value is less. Although lavender jadeite is the second most valued in color, it is still worth much more than the lesser colors of green.
Jadeite also occurs in black and is usually found carved.
As mentioned earlier, hue, tone and saturation determines jadeites’ value but uniformity of color is also a very important factor. Uneven color in jadeite is most common and the “variation might appear as blotches, called mottling
, or as streaks that resemble veins or plant roots”, as described by the Gemological Institute of America. These surface patterns are also known as “variegated” and “moss in snow”. Jadeite with any markings are considered less valuable but when evaluated, the markings should be “intense and sharply defined”.
Jadeites’ transparency ranges from opaque to semi-transparent. The best jadeite
is semi-transparent even in darker shades. To check transparency, put a thinner piece of jade over a drawn line and if it shows through, it has the transparency that is most valued.
Jadeite should have a smooth even texture. “Jadeites’ texture can be fine, medium or coarse, depending on variations in crystal size and hardness” as described by the Gemological Institute of America.
Jadeite is exceptionally hard and can withstand breakage. Because of the combination of texture and hardness, jadeite will take a high polish.
Jadeite can have a fine or coarse finish. The finer finish will take a higher polish and is considered more valuable.