I have become very fond of jade recently, and never miss a chance to visit the jade market in Mandalay on my trips through Myanmar. While Mandalay itself is not a beautiful or lively city, the jade market more than makes up for its shortcomings. In fact the jade market, like Mandalay in general, seems to invoke feelings of the wild west. A dirty, dusty place, where people from all over come to make their fortunes...or try to anyway.
This trip I spent a bit more time looking at better quality green jades, and my new favorite - white jade. While jade comes in a variety of colors, and emerald green imperial commands the highest price, beautiful, and valuable white jades are becoming more and more popular. It's easy to understand why, it's beautiful and matches with just about anything. And it looks good in both its higher pure quality as well as lower more milky varieties.
When evaluating white jade, the quality has a great deal to do with its clarity. The best white jade is considerably translucent - looking nearly crystal clear. Most of the whites however have significant white color, and, like most highly transparent jade, noticeable wavy inconsistencies in the material. Still it's really gorgeous material.
As nice as white jade is, I was also quite interested in looking at the imperial green variety of jade - and boy did I see some amazing pieces.
The above piece of jade is semi-rough. While beautiful the value is brought down by the mixing of white jade within an otherwise rich green jade piece. Most likely, the future owner of the piece will cut out the white and make a large carving. It's possible as well that all the white is cut out and smaller pieces are made of the remaining pure green sections. Of course, it's more valuable as a large single piece.
Of course I didn't look exclusively at the best goods, and tried as well to capture some interesting activities amongst the various cutters, dealers, brokers and buyers.