Jade is a unique and prized stone. Though highly traded and sought after in Asia, it remains a bit of an anomaly in the west. Much of the lack of knowledge about jade has to do with the large amount of low quality and dyed jade that has taken over most of the market in the west. Only a select few stores carry high quality stones, and those consumers that buy it, typically are well educated on the gem.
Pulling back the veil a little, jade, like other gems, rewards the highest color and clarity with the greatest value. But what is different than, say diamond, is that jade is really not measured in carats or grams, but rather subjectively by relative size, quality of carving (if it's carved), and purity of color. And this is where it gets tricky.
One thing is for certain - the worlds best jade comes from Myanmar, and much of that funnels through the Mandalay Jade Market.
I took a visit in April, and thought I would share the experience.
The Jade market is a mecca for business and trade. A sort of multi-tiered trading zone. At 5am it opens, and many rough boulders are getting cut up. By 9am, when the trading section opens, traders and brokers are running around, selling stones that had just been cut that morning -as well as many other stones from different dealers and traders.
The market is divided into various sections depending on type of jade, and on process. A larger part of the market, and the immediate vicinity just outside it, are small workshops dedicated to cutting all types of jade. Everything is cut here -quality cabochons, carvings, and bangles.
The jade market is a remarkable place where people, end up spending much of their lives. Cafe's pool halls, and other forms of entertainment are set up within its gates. One thing is sure, everyone is talking jade.