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Chinese Small Jade Buttons

Many people I talk with seem to believe that only wealthy people are able to collect real jade… and that is not true. Most unset jade buttons and flowers just like these appear on today’s market at very reasonable prices.


The small jades in these photos are commonly called ‘buttons or ‘flowers’… they have been made in China for almost 2,000 years… each is hand carved. The white jade buttons are usually older than the green.

The contrast between newer export styles and traditional hair ornaments … the jade buttons seem to have a timeless presence.

In China they were used as pendants, earrings, buttons or attached to ladies hair ornaments… they are most commonly carved in the form of flowers, birds or Qilin.

For most of the twentieth century, buttons were recycled and set in jewelry to be sold to the Western markets- like this brooch below and earrings pictured above.


With a bit of luck and perseverance, one could probably collect a hundred different examples of these miniature carvings… many, centuries old…

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos… many in larger formats.

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  1. Posted April 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink


    Jade was only for an elite until the Ming Dynasty that the new customs law was issued to allow commoners to own jade. However, jade in Chinese means beautiful stone, any stone that defines beauty and true jade (nephrite) is the most valuable because of its beauty and toughness (hard to break , the toughest of all mineral on earth).

    Jadeite you showed above was not made 2000 of years ago, jadeite came to China in 17th Century from Kingdom of Burma via Yunnan. And 95% jadeite in the market today is dyed, bleached, heated..etc Buying an uncut jadeite slab is the safest. Natural color last longer than the fake one.

    Very breath taking stuffs you have here, love them all.

    Have fun

  2. Posted April 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Emerald green jadeite is much more valuable than mutton fat white nephrite.

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