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A Nephrite Jade Buddha Carving


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A Mutton Fat Nephrite Jade carving

Dear Arthur

We tried to contact you via your website but could not attach pictures, we were wondering if you could give us your professional opinion about this Buddha carving.

We believe it is jade of some type but are unsure as we have very few gemologists in our area. It is 14cm high 13cm wide and 9cm deep at the base. All we know is, it came from China.  It was hand carved and is over forty years old. Any information you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely

A. Chapman

Hi Chapman

The carving you have in hand is a portrayal of an Arahat, or loosely translated it is a Lohan, who has achieved the initial stage of enlightenment and has escaped the physical bonding of self to this materialistic earthly world. A Lohan is always known for his great wisdom, courage and supernatural power to fight evil.

A Buddha jade carving

I would think that your carving is a Nephrite Jade.  The whitish and slightly greasy surface is quite typical of nephrite from China, where they called it Mutton Fat jade.   On the order of rarity, Mutton Fat jade ranks almost the top quality in nephrite when a jade piece is of even whitish color.  A more common color of nephrite is green and grayish Caledon.

From this post, Jadeite Jade vs Nephrite you can see some of the different characteristics of the two varieties of jade.  The Moh’s scale of hardness on Nephrite is around 6.  If you use a small hexagonal quartz with a pointed tip to scratch the base of the jade, you may be able to make a clear indentation.

Thank you Chapman

A Arthur

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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.


  1. Hello Ivan,

    Yes, mutton fat jade can be very beautiful. Those old carvings of mutton fat jade with provenance dating back to some old Chinese dynasty are especially valuable and have fetched high auction prices in international auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby.

    Thanks Ivan

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