As described in this post, Natural Vs Enhanced Jadeite Jade, Jadeite Jade is a very porous mineral. It comprises of very minute granules of monoclinic crystals inter-locked against each other. This creates a lot of interstices and ‘pores’ in between the crystals whereby organic compounds can be force injected into these capillary crevices. Hence, jade is an extremely good stone for enhancement.
Polymer-impregnated jadeite jade is termed as Type B Jadeite Jade.
The jadeite jade piece is first been chemically bleached to remove the impurities. It is further rinsed with caustic soda or mild acid to remove the bleaches. Polymer is then force-injected under pressure and heat into the capillary veins of the jade. Finally the jade piece will undergo polishing by hand or by placing it into a tumbler to give it a fine finish.
Type B Jadeite Jade is normally being ‘processed’ from low quality jade. The structure of jade has been altered irreversibly by strong corrosive acid. Contrary to many opinions, polymer impregnated jadeite jade can be quite lasting as long as they are not exposed to high heat or temperature, which in normal circumstances those who own a jade piece will not go and ‘boil’ a jade to determine whether they are natural or have being enhanced.
Type B Jadeite Jade are beautiful with pleasing colors but they are ephemeral. It will pass into oblivion and be valueless in time to come. You are not buying a precious gemstone, you are only purchasing a costume jewelry to fit your present fashion trend. If you want a precious thing of value or if you are a keen believer that jadeite jade would indeed bring you fortune and luck then you should avoid buying treated jade. Jade of this type can be bought cheaply at flea market or on 5-foot pavement along a busy street in China or Hong Kong.
In the early 80s when Type B jade first appeared on the market it caused an unprecedented upheaval to the jade industry. It came as an avalanche. Overnight a lot of beautiful green jade flooded the market. Manufacturers maintained prices to skim the market. Natural jade dealers wondered where did these jadeite pieces suddenly appeared. They knew that something was afoot as beautiful green jade were rare especially when they came in matching pairs or in a suite and the sizes were too big to be true. Consumers’ confidence would be shaken badly if the situation persisted.
They knew that some new material had been introduced into the jade. The naked eye could not see any surface coating nor could it be detected under a 60x microscope or even a spectroscope. (Note: Spectroscope can only detected dyed jadeite jade and not polymer-impregnated jade) Natural jade dealers feared that they would be driven out of the market if their genuine goods cannot be differentiated from the treated goods. A few dealers in Hong Kong took the initiative to research the matter to counter these treated jade. Among the strongest proponent was the Hong Kong Jewellery & Jade Manufacturers Association.
By using a FTIR (Fournier Transform Infra Red) equipment natural jadeite gives a certain signature fingerprint while in a polymer impregnated jade there are some absorption peaks at certain wavelength. By scanning the jade piece through an FTIR the results are very clear that Type A and Type B jade can be differentiated.
(A more thorough discussion on FTIR will be posted later)
Once a sure proof detection is found the jade industry got back on its own feet. The market for Type B jade crashed and prices fell through the roof. In fact the introduction of Type B jade was a blessing in disguise for those natural jade dealers. People now sought Type A jadeite jade and they are prepared to pay a higher premium. Gem labs rushed to purchase the FTIR equipment and did a brisk trade identifying Type A and Type B jade. For a reputable jeweler he would sell a Type A jade above a certain value with an accompanying certificate from a gem lab.
A lot of PR work was required to inform the public on the new enhancement process. And not surprising, no manufacturers came forward to file any patent rights for their new enhancement processes. It still remained a trade secret and there are still a lot of money to be made from the unwary.