Hetian White Jade of China
White Jade is Crowned "Jade of China"
Thought to be the purest jade stone, white jade is a highly desirable, highly valued jade. The color may not be completely pure, usually has a few visible cracks or dark spots. However, they are not often used for jewelry, partially because white jade is nephrite jade, and it is mostly used for carving into a beautiful artwork for decoration. It is believed white jade is beneficial for fertility and healing, but doesn’t have a direct purpose like most jade stones.
In China, white jade is only found at Hetian,Xinjiang of northwest of China, it is crowned "Jade of China" for its representation of beauty, culture, tradition, and history. It became more and more valuable these days due to its scarcity.
Hetian Mutton Fat Jade - World's Finest White Jade
Fatty & mellow white is considered the best in white jade, it can have a little tainted cyan and creamy yellow. High grade white jade should have delicate texture, appears greasy, and can have a small amount of impurities. The world's top grade white jade is from Hetian, Xinjiang of China. The hardness is 6 to 6.5, with dense texture, and very high chemical stability; its toughness and wear resistance are the strongest in gemstones. Due to its extremely fine and delicate suet-like texture, it is named mutton fat jade. It is the highest quality in white jades. A piece of exquisite white jade brings you not only the warm delicate aesthetic feelings, the fine workmanship, design, and good subject to the art work, all have significant impact on the value of the jade.
White Jade Rings
White Jade Ranked Top in Jades
Historically, white jade from Hetian is highly representative in quality and quantity, therefore white jade has been given the name "Hetian Jade". Strictly speaking, Hetian jade is one of the major nephrite stones, it does not represent all the white jades. White jade mineral is mostly composed of actinolite and tremolite. Such composition has the interweave fiber structure, which gives white jade its physical properties as we mentioned above. White jade is characterized by the degree of its "whiteness", and will only show its natural beauty and quality of carving when the whiteness is consistent with the texture of its own. Traditionally the whiteness is categorized in this order: suet white, pear flower white, snow white, fish bone white, ivory, chicken bone white, brown rice white, gray white, blue gray white, etc., in which suet white with texture that is creamy like mutton fat, the raw stone that is complete and covered with skin is the highest grade of all, also the heavier and bigger the material, the higher the value. Needless to say, white jade stands out in all jades.
White Jade Bracelet & Bangle
Hetian White Jade - Invaluable In the Future
Hetian white jade has nearly 8,000 years of history. It elaborated the Chinese historical development, implied the profound understanding towards the Chinese traditional culture, and demonstrated rich historical and cultural value. Modern jade works inherited the traditional Chinese culture in jade ornaments. Carving artworks such as "Fulu Shuangquan" (have both blessing and good fortune), "Fu Shou San Duo" (blessing, longevity, and three "a lot": a lot of luck, live longer, and a lot of sons), "Kirin Songzi" and other traditional jade craftsmanship is still very popular today. Production of Hetian white jade has decreased drastically over the years since its beginning in Shang dynasty due to the long-term mining, which caused its price to soar; especially the mutton fat white, due to the scarcity of its resources and the fact it can't be re-produced in nature, it will be invaluable in the near future. If a piece of fine jade jewelry or sculpture is a heavy gift, then sending someone something of mutton fat jade has to be one of the most expensive gift ideas of many kinds.
Quality white jade has fine texture, gaps between the particles are small, therefore it is not easy for impurities to get in, so the color will not change; while poor quality white jade can easily change color due to its loose texture and big gaps between the particles that allow impurities to get in.
Visually Distinguish Hetian White Jade with Other Fake White Jade
White Jade Sculpture: Buddha Sculpture
How to Identify Quality White Jade
White jade specifically refers to tremolite based nephrite - Hetian jade. We can't just call other minerals based stones white jade simply because they are white. But some marketers call all the non-white jade stones white jade, which is objectively misleading to consumers; some deliberately do so for gaining market profits and that is a wrongful act. Some sellers on the Internet list a type of white stone named Dongling Jade that is found in Xinjiang as "Xinjiang White" to purposely confuse the public, many have complained, yet sellers claim that there are many white jade in Xinjiang, and he did not say the jade sold was Hetian white jade, stuff like that. On the white jade market, there are often two types of white stones are called white jade.
First one is quartzite type stone. It has white color, fine texture, appears very much like the white jade, it is really the so-called "Beijing white", it fact it is just a kind of fine-grained quartzite, what is evaluated as "whetstone" by the mining departments; although with very fine particles, it is not defined white jade. Quartzite has higher hardness than Hetian jade, therefore it has stronger showing of glass gloss. in the absence of proper equipment, this is one best way to differentiate quartzite and Hetian white jade. Water stone, water-white stone, aventurine jade (Dongling jade stone) all belong to this group.
Second one is calcite stone. It appears to be close to white jade, for example the "Afghan White Jade" on the market is a stone formed by the calcite, it is actually just a kind of marble, only the color is white and it is translucent, is often carved into cabbage, a symbolic meaning for "a hundred fortunes" (cabbage is 白菜 in Chinese, 白, white, rhymes with 百, one hundred; 菜，vegetable, rhymes with 财，fortune). The hardness of type of jade is very low, a small ordinary knife would be able to carve it, so it is not difficult to identify.
In some second-hand market, sellers often pose emulsion glass as white jade. Circular bubbles can often be seen in glass merchandise, so immediately you know it is not white jade. However, some glass products have no bubbles, so zero bubbles do not necessarily mean it is true white jade. Some white stones resemble vivid look of white jade, it can be very difficult to judge without the strict testing by the jewelry detection department.
Hetian jade has very high scale of hardness and strong toughness, can be used to scratch glass without self damage. As of other stones, only the Quartzferous stones can do the same. People often use water stone to impersonate suet-like mutton fat jade, it is important to know that mutton fat jade shows fatty white, white the color of the water stone is pale; mutton fat jade has oil sheen, water stone looks drier with poor luster.
There are three aspects to look at for identification from the appearance of the Hetian jade. With naked eyes, you should see meticulous cloudy flakes and foggy jade flowers in structure, which is specific to Hetian white jade; Hetian jade has very gentle luster, indicates the reflection of light on its surface is not very strong, that is because there are extremely small bumps on the surface, like a frosted glass, you can see them with a 10-20 times magnifying glass, sometimes hand-polished lines along certain directions can be observed; it is also worth to observe the incised lines, due to the strong toughness, sculpturing does not generally chip away, while quartzite has poor toughness, high brittleness, it is easy to chip during carving.
As of buying white jade jewelry online, don't always expect you'd buy the real thing. If you see something cost only few bucks, chances are they are absolutely not white jade. It is within your own judgment what to buy. Hopefully you would enjoy your purchase regardless.
Liona on October 29, 2015:
I am very grateful for this article, I have always wondered how to differentiate hetian Jade and other Jade. Your article have such great pictures that I now know what's the difference. Bty, I think I am now a fan of he tian Jade. It is so beautiful compared to other Jade. A gentle light a Compared to other Jade. Thank you. I hope someday I can get my hand on one. No wonder it is so prized by the sages of old China, it truly embody what the sages praised as true gentleman spirit