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Smelling a Jadeite Jade Carving


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Further to this previous post on Lacquer Spraying a Jadeite Jade, how do we detect whether a jade piece has been spray painted with any oil based substance to enhance its appearance?

Simple – just smell it!

When you are considering whether to buy a piece of jadeite jade, smelling the jade is quite useful to detect any presence of olefin-based oil or whether the jade has been waxed.  This is most useful when you are thinking of buying an intricately carved pendant, as the seller might like to hide those crevasses which have not been polished well.

Rubbing a jade piece with your fingers may indicate the presence of lacquer spray oil

Firstly, you should rub it with your fingers on the jade piece.  Any residual oil which the seller may not have washed away can be felt with your fingers.  One may say, what is the use of oiling it then washing it away.  The main purpose of spraying a carving piece is to let the oil seeps inside any small unpolished area to hide the whitish seams.  The jade piece is then rinsed with cold water and any oil residual on the polished surface will be washed away.

Then you just smell for the presence of oil as most olefin has a fragrance to it.  You have to give credit to the ingenuity of the Chinese for this.  They just love to put some fragrance onto anything that is worn on the body, so that it ‘smells’ pleasant.  And they thought perhaps this may help sell the jade piece.

However, for beautiful pieces of translucent and vivid green carving jadeite jade pendants, they are mostly well polished and do not need to be sprayed with olefin.  Most jade cabochons are also not lacquer sprayed.

The beauty of smelling a jade carving piece in front of the seller will also put him on notice that you know something about jade as a lot of jade pieces on the market has been oiled by lacquer spray.

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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. Yes Ivan, for small pieces of jade carvings olefin spray is used. However, currently tumblers are used for polishing jade and even those small crevases can be subject to an excellent polish.

    Thanks for your support Ivan.

  2. I think that for the complicated jade sculptures or small pieces of carved jade pendants they would use the olefin spray, so in that case we could apply this method.

  3. This is the first time I heard of smelling a jade piece before I buy. But I can tell you that it really made sense.

    Thank you for your posting on jade. I learn a lot of new things from your website.


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