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Jade Bangle: Hear Me Out

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Listening to the Pitch from a Jadeite Jade Bangle

One of the most fascinating aspect of Jadeite Jade bangle is that you can use your hearing faculty to determine its identity to a high degree and whether the jade bangle is natural or polymer-impregnated.

As discussed in the previous post (read here), the internal structure of Jadeite Jade comprises very minute granules of monoclinic microcrystalline crystals inter-locked against each other.  Within the jade there are numerous capillary spaces in between each of these micro-crystals.  Thus, when you hit the jade piece slightly the sound energy will reverberate through these small capillaries round the holorith of the bangle to emit a pleasing resonant pitch.  It is just like when you hit a glass of water with a tuning fork, a sharp high pitch sound will reverberate through the air, the sharpness of the pitch would be a function of the level of water in the glass and the air space within its confines.

Natural Jadeite Jade does not have any filler resinous polymer within its crevices or capillary spaces.  Thus, the sound that emits when you hit it with a tweezers would be sharp with a high pitch.  With a polymer impregnated jade bangle, the sound energy would be absorbed by the filler material and it will give only a ‘thud’ pitch.  Jadeite Jade bangles also emit a different pitch than other bangles of other gemstones, like Lapis Lazuli, Quartz, Calcite, Serpentine, Onyx, Chalcedony, Ivory, Nephrite or other minerals.

A Very Translucent Jade Bangle Will Emit A Sharp Pitch

Now this skill is developed through experience, the more you listen to the pitch of various bangles the better would be your judgment.  A very translucent bangle would, of course, emits a very sharp pitch as compared to an opaque one when both are natural Jadeite Jade.

Most jade dealers can ‘hear’ a natural jade from an enhanced jade.  When you buy a bangle they usually knock the bangle against another bangle to let you listen to the pitch to convince you that the bangle is indeed natural Jadeite Jade.  However, a word of caution here, this may not be a 100% authentication unless you have been handling it for a long time to develop this instinct.

As a jade dealer for many years, here are some tips for you to note:

1) Use a thread to hold the jade in order to produce the optimum pitch.  Holding it tight with your fingers might absorb some sound energy.

2) Do not use two bangles to knock against each other.  If one is a dud the good bangle will still emit a sharp pitch which might lead you to a wrong conclusion.

3) Do not knock on the rim of the jade bangle.  You might just chip it.

4) Always ask the dealer for permission whether you can do it or not.

5) This would not work on rough jade (unless you are a miner), carvings, blocks or other shapes of jade.

6) You cannot test it when it is worn over your wrist.

Yeah, go on and explore this with the bangle you own.  Or on your next intended purchase do it in front of the dealer,…….just don’t drop the bangle on the floor as you will have to pay for it if it is broken.



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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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi MontyHall

    Yes, the thicker the rim of the diameter of a bangle, the sound emitted when hit is very sharp and sustaining.

    However, you must develop a hearing sense by listening to as much as possible on the ‘sound’ of jade. Then only you develop the instinct of differentiating it from the fake.

    thanks MontyHall

  2. Hi, Arthur,

    Regarding bangle thickness and shape:

    You said, “One must also see the thickness of the bangle. The thicker it is the better sustaining sound it will emit if there is no polymer impregnation.”

    If a bangle is jadeite and 13.5 mm thick, with a round cross-section (i.e. round on the inside and outside), is it more likely to be an older piece?

    Is there a ‘rule of thumb’ that thick jade bangles (11mm and fatter) are almost always older than thinner ones (for example, 7mm)?

    Thank you very much!

  3. Hi MontyHall,

    The sound test is a ‘quick & dirty’ test while on the field. For JJ bangles it is quite good for confirmation as Type A JJ, but you have to be good and experience. One must also see the thickness of the bangle. The thicker it is the better sustaining sound it will emit if there is no polymer impregnation.

    Nephrite may be a bit different because the structure of nephrite is fibrous in nature, unlike JJ, which is granular and there are more microscopic pores within the interior.

    If there is a sustaining sharp pitch on any JJ carving, this test is quite useful and it is quite accurate.

    Even for rough boulders, the sound test can be used. There will be a post much later on this.

    I can see that you are a jade connoisseur too.

    Thank you for taking your time to put in a comment onto my website.

    have a good day
    arthur

  4. How definitive is the sound test?

    Thank you for adding the following about the ‘sound test’:

    –> “5) This would not work on rough jade (unless you are a miner), carvings, blocks or other shapes of jade.”

    A highly-regarded dealer sold me three carved nephrites. One is shaped like a huaigu (?) and looks as though it might have been made from the disk left over after having carved a bangle. The second is carved like an acolyte with a lingzhi, and the third is a pig.

    I hadn’t heard of the sound test until today, and was dismayed that the pig and the acolyte both make dull noises. The nephrite huaigu sounds sharp, clear, and sustained.

    –> Seems like the shape of the jade really makes a difference. Is this true?

    Also, I have a small carved jadeite pendant that a jeweler identified for me as “definitely undyed jadeite”. It, too, makes a “thud”. Does this, in your opinion, mean that it is definitely polymer-enhanced?

    My late grandmother had two large, flat jadeite pendants that were markedly cold, heavy, and made sharp, sustained ringing when struck. Hearing about the sound test made me remember her pendants.

    Another good article. Thank you again!

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