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Gimmick Test For Jade Is Not Conclusive

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Burning Strands Of Hair Tied To A Jade Rough
Burning Strands Of Hair Tied To A Jade Rough

As a jade dealer for more than 20 years, I have come across many sales gimmicks by retail jade sellers or flea market sellers demonstrating to a prospective buyer on how to do some quick test to ‘prove’ that what they sell are real genuine jadeite jade.
The commonest one is to tie a few strands of hair onto a jade piece and use a cricket lighter to burn it. And if the hair can still withstand the flame of the heat for some time without being singed, then the piece is a real jade.
The rationale is that jadeite jade is a cool mineral and is a good conductor of heat. Therefore a ‘real’ jade can withstand the high temperature of a flame.
To the uninitiated or a person without any knowledge on jade or even to a seasoned jade dealer, this test seems fool-proof. In my early days when I began to learn the ropes of the jade trade, I was taken in by this quick and dirty test too. But I know that this test is not conclusive as I explore further into the subject. This test is still commonly used by many jade shops in China for the tourist market. I have witnessed it several times but I rather keep my own counsel. Let these sales girls have their day at the jade store with the tourists of whom I am not even acquaintance with. Moreover, it is none of my business to disparage them.
The top picture shows a polished baroque jadeite jade with a few strands of hair tied over it. I applied a flame from a cricket lighter for about 1 minute. (The temperature can be quite high). The hair still did not get singed.
The lower picture shows a rough quartz with a polished window. The strands of hair also did not get singed after the flame is lighted over it for 1 minute.
So beware and don’t fall for this trick anymore.
Jadeite Jade and quartz are both crystals. A crystal is a solid material or mineral, whose constituent atoms, molecules or ions are arranged in a orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Therefore, they are good conductor of heat. The test shows that the specimen is only a crystal but it is not conclusive that it is jadeite jade.
On the other hand, you might use a sort of a negation exercise to determine that a certain specimen is not jadeite jade mineral but may require additional tests to determine the real identity of the stone.
Say, you have a small jade cabochon. You rub it in between your thumb and fore-finger and if it heats up easily then the specimen is definitely NOT jade mineral. Jade cabochon is cool to the touch while plastic resins heat up easily by the friction generated with the thumb and finger.
A more effective way is to place the specimen onto your cheek, for your cheek is much more heat-sensitive than your fingers. If you can feel a bit of a heat, then the specimen is definitely not jade mineral.
Now this is not really a smart test, but it has saved me some money from buying some imitation stuff from unscrupulous dealers. There are a lot of green imitation stones in the market that resembles jade and most of these are plastics polymers.
There is still a long way to go in learning the ropes of the jade trade. But the best lesson that you ever learn was when you bought some duds and you thought you had a good deal as the seller swore that all his jade were the real thing. Sometimes you cannot fault the seller for he is only a trader. He just buy from one source and sell it at his retail store with a profit mark-up, never mind whether his retail store is a plush antique-furniture furnished or he just uses an army-issued old blanket on the road side to display his goods.
Now having said that the seller may not be aware of the quality of his goods, on some rare occasion a buyer may pick up some hot stuff at a real bargain. Just like an art connoisseur who purchased a real master piece from a seller who thought it was a fake and the buyer is a sucker. It has happened often enough to give many people many day dreams of striking it rich. Sometimes I too indulge in one of these daydreaming that one day I will pick up some Real McCoy of a gem while paying peanuts for it. You know, it is good for the ego for it shows how smart you are. But alas, in fact all the time the sellers are smarter while I am the sucker.
But if you don’t risk the buy then you will never learn or never have the chance to pick up some real bargains. That is, you must have some knowledge on the subject matter first and if you are lucky you might hit pay dirt.
Watch out for one of my coming up post where I know a geologist professor who bought 3 supposedly faked dinosaur eggs from China only to discover that one is the Real Thing when he ran exhaustive tests at a geological laboratory.

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I am a Graduate Gemologist trained at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York City, USA. I hold an MBA degree from Cranfield University, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor degree in Mathematics. My earlier profession was a banker until I found jade in Myanmar (Burma) in the early 90s. I have traveled to the fabled Hpakan Jade mines, and Mogok, the world’s famous rubies and sapphires mines in upper Burma, with my second son. Three of my children are also Graduate Gemologist, GIA, NYC and they deal in diamonds, gemstones and jade. 我是在美国纽约市的美国宝石学院(GIA)接受过培训的宝石研究学家。 我拥有英国克兰菲尔德大学的工商管理硕士学位和数学学士学位。我以前的职业是银行家,直到90年代初我在缅甸接触到玉石。我曾经和我的次子一起去过缅甸上流传说中的哈帕翡翠矿山和莫谷矿山, 莫谷矿山是世界上著名的红宝石和蓝宝石矿山。我的三个孩子都是纽约市GIA毕业的宝石研究学家, 他们专门处理钻石,宝石和玉石.

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