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Carved White Jade and Silver Set-Immortals

When I look at this set I hear Sam Spade in my head, "this is the stuff that dreams are made of"…who wore this set and for what occasion? I will never know…but my imagination always takes hold of me when I look at it. Nephrite jade…a creamy white, (my photographer tells me that it changes color with the slightest shift of light), some translucence, 2-3mm thick. There are…18 pierced and carved figures of the immortals…each set in sterling custom cut to fit each stone. Chinese hallmarks. Probably 19thc but I believe that the earrings were originally part of the necklace so there has been some alteration.

0001-1-771722The carvings are lovely…each immortal stands on clouds…which symbolize good fortune and happiness….and perhaps in this case the elevated status of the group…the central figure in the neckpiece is He Xiangu…this time wearing a crown and seated on her lotus blossom. Some of the other figures are recognizable from the enamel bracelet of the eight immortals…Lan Caihe with a lovely basket of flowers, Zhongli Guan with his fat belly, and Han Xiangzi with his flute. The faces are quite detailed and expressive…all seem to be smiling. I see this as a gift for a very special celebration…a wedding, an anniversary.

Several years ago this is the set that pushed me over the edge…from someone interested in Chinese ornament…to a serious collector…saw it… had to have it…don’t regret it.

0001-2-754145A brief word about jade…in China jade has been called "the stone of heaven" …the stone and the culture are interwoven in ways that I am only beginning to understand. There really is no comparison in the West. But I hear a lot of confusion from friends about the word jade…with good reason…

For thousands of years in China the word jade meant the mineral now called nephrite or nephrite jade, which appears in several colors including green. Then in the 18thc another "jade" was discovered, found in Burma. It is actually the mineral jadeite and the terms jadeite and Burma jade are now used to describe it. The two have many similarities, both come in many colors…but jadeite has a more brilliant luster when polished… while nephrite, like the pieces in this set, can have a soft creamy quality. There are collectors for both. I am not an expert on jade…I make judgments based on the quality and rarity of the workmanship.

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