I received an email from a reader regarding whether there are any simple at-home test for Type B Jadeite Jade. Essentially, the aim is to test for the presence of polymers within a jadeite jade piece. The email, unabridged, is produced below.
Over a year ago, I bought a small, thin, well-carved (to me), translucent and pale blue-gray-lavender jade pendant for $150 (US). Looking at it lately, I suspect that it could be polymer-impregnated.
It was not a large enough investment to justify the cost of sending it away for FTIR spectroscopy, so I’m trying to find as definitive an at-home test as possible.
Would rubbing the piece with an acetone-soaked cotton swab definitively indicate polymer impregnation (a destructive test is OK; I wouldn’t want a Type B jade)?
I have heard that acetone will fail to dissolve some jade *dyes*, will it fail to dissolve any colored polymers?
Thank you in advance for any advice or insights you can give!
Acetone is an organic compound mostly used as a mild solvent for cleaning purposes. It is also used as paint thinners. Most nail polisher removers are acetone based.
Acetone is also used a good solvent for plastics and synthetic fibers especially for polystyrene, polycarbonates and polypropylene. But these polymers are thermoplastics, that is, at room temperatures they are solids but when it is heated to around 100oC, it becomes liquid, hence, acetone can be used to dissolve these polymers. Polymers used for impregnation into jadeite jade are of different types, mostly alkenes, which has a higher melting point.
Hence, the use of acetone on a polymer impregnated jadeite jade has no effect as to the removal of polymers within the jade piece. The polymers are firmly embedded within the fine capillaries of the jade and the application of acetone on the jade surface will not be able to dissolve the polymers.
Acetone is flammable and vaporous. Acetone will evaporate very fast if exposed to air. So boiling acetone with a jade piece is not advisable as it is dangerous.
Using strong acids like Sulphuric or Hydrocloric acid are not suitable also, as these strong acids will just turn the silicates of the jadeite jade into other compounds. It will totally destroy your jade piece. I have immersed some jadeite jade previously into strong acids and the jadeite jade piece turned into some dark grayish lump of stones.
I will write another two posts on some at-home test for Type B Jadeite Jade, which might be crude, but they are only indicative tests and are not conclusive. Anyway, it is good to learn about it.