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Chinese Chicken Bone Jade Necklace

Several sources state that Nephrite Jade which has been through a fire or buried for a long time will develop an unusual surface calcification, losing color and becoming a chalky white…like these beads.

0000-718773According to the Collector’s Book of Jade, by Arthur and Grace Chu, this jade, which is called ‘chicken bone’, is highly valued by the Chinese because it is usually very old.

But, the Chu’s go on to say "many Nephrite objects of low quality jade were deliberately burned to create fake archaic pieces."


I have been unable to find any sources that suggest a way to determine if Chicken Bone Jade has been faked…I would love to hear from anyone with more information.


This necklace is composed of 62 beads, hand carved, with the Fu symbol and pierced 18 times.

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  1. Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    The terms “chicken bone white” and “white surface calcification” strictly speaking, in my opinion, are very different and of course looks very different. However, some sources use them interchangeably as though they are the same.

    Old Chicken Bone White – Neolithic era, chicken bone white jade pieces are common due to rituals (often involved a lot of burning and sacrificial activities) and marks due to long period of burial. From Song till Qing Dynasty, jade craftsmen love to produce archaistic jade with the chicken bone look through burning jade pieces at high heat (these are still valuable antique relics).

    New Chicken Bone White – Then we have the modern Republic of China craftsmen who possesses similar “burning with high heat” methods, but their workmanship rarely as good as their Pre-Republic counterparts. Doesn’t help when counterfeiters harbour ill intentions. Pure white or chalky texture surfaces are easy to sell with terms like “rare chicken bone white” chinese jade to the ignorant collector.

    Hence, it is difficult for one to say if chicken bone has been faked. A chicken bone jade piece could have been produced during the Ming dynasty and handed down through generations, not buried in graves, where little or no burial marks will be observed. One can be easily mistaken to say that it is new chicken bone made in recent years. Analyzing the stylistic carvings to determine if an item fits a certain era is more important in that sense.

    The beads look too chalky white and lack of natural burial marks. Maybe they were handed down by generations, then more questions need to be asked such as looking for natural wear and tear marks. I maybe wrong. Feeling the surface texture and images with greater magnification would help a lot.

  2. Susan
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this useful information! Our readers will certainly benifit from it.

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