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News-Antique.com - Apr 09,2007 - April 9, 2007---“Jade is a possession to be cherished by anyone who can find it, buy it or steal it,” said Pearl S. Buck in her 1954 book “My Several Worlds.”
According to Buck men in ancient China put money in jade instead of banks. It was considered the most luxurious jewel against a woman’s flesh, worn in place of diamonds.
The Chinese emperor reportedly offered 15 cities for a jade carving he could hold in his hand. When the wealthy died, jade was often placed in their tombs. Even the poorest women in China had a bit of jade dangling from their ears or at the very least, a jade hairpin.
It wasn’t just a precious stone in the orient either. Knowing his most prized possession was jade, the Aztec emperor Montezuma supposedly smiled when he heard Cortez was only interested in gold.
The Russians carved an entire sarcophagus out of jade for Czar Alexander III.
Steeped in myth and legend, the Chinese called jade the earth’s most precious treasure. Even within the earth, the two are worlds apart it declared. Gold is of the material realm and jade is of the spirit.
More than just touchstones to ancient Asian history, people collect jade today simply because it’s beautiful.
Prices vary depending on the quality of the carving and the type of jade used. Some jade is artificially aged in a chimney. The smell gives it away.
Because jade carvings have been made for centuries in China, they were also shaped into objects of everyday use like dishes, brush pots, scroll weights and belt hooks.
Jade sometimes gets mistaken for soapstone. A simple test is to apply a pin to the base. If a scratch results, the stone is not jade.
On Dec. 14, 2006, Alderfer Auction, Hatfield, Pa., featured a selection of jade in its Asian Art auction.
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