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Guest Contributor… CC, From Hong Kong

In my last post, I talked about how important it is to have people to call on to help solve the mysteries that are part of collecting Chinese ornaments. Collectors love to share their knowledge and experiences … so we are inviting guests to contribute posts. We are really thrilled to introduce our first guest contributor….


I am CC, from Hong Kong.

I have been asked to be a guest blogger on “Chinese Jade” for Susan’s PrivateCollection PhotoBlog.  It is indeed my pleasure and honour to do so.

What I am going to write about will be some basics on Chinese jade collecting, especially antique nephrite jades carved in the last millennium but before the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.  I will try to share what I know with a view to clearing some of the myths and misunderstanding of Chinese jade by westerners.

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A beautiful piece from CC’s collection

A bit about myself… I was born in Hong Kong, the present HK Special Administrative Region, not many years after the World War II.  Hong Kong was, before July 1997, under the colonial rule of the UK and no wonder it was called a “Culture Desert”.  People were taught to work hard, speak less and most of us are money-oriented.  We lacked the spiritual aspect of life that we should have developed as in other developed regions of the world.  But I always think that I am a bit different from others, I am not so after money. I can still adore beautiful things, should it be the nature or a piece of sculpture, poem, music, and admire people who write, play or carve them.

In early 1990’s, a colleague of my office showed me a small piece of green/white stone carved with a monkey and a bamboo stem saying that it was an antique jadeite.  He explained to me that the meaning of carving a monkey in Chinese was “Be an official to the emperor” and the bamboo that has so many nodes was “Getting promotion many times”.

I was attracted to buy this odd and ugly piece at about US$500 which is my first piece of jade.  Later when I learned a bit more about jadeite from the local market, I knew I was fooled.  It was not an old piece.  Its worth was less than a hundred dollars.  But I would not talk to the seller and asked for refund, as I knew at the same time, unlike gold, jade does not have a set price pertaining to it.  Its price will be dependent on the market, in other words, on the affordability of the buyer or competitive buyers.

I am a person who tries to learn from mistakes…I am persistent pursuing what I do not know if I have interest.  So throughout the 1990’s, I bought on and off new jadeite carvings that cost me a lot of money from the local market.  Not many pieces, as jadeite always commands high prices and I had a family to raise and a house mortgage to repay.

I started reading books on jadeite. I continued collecting, not because of Chinese superstition that jade will bring you good fortune or it will keep you away from the evil things but because of the beauty of the stone and the delicacy of the craftsmanship.

At the turn of the century, I discovered eBay.  I bought my first antique white nephrite jade belt hook depicting a dragon and phoenix from an auction held by a Canadian, at the reserve price of US600.  It was said in the listing that it was carved in mid-Qing Dynasty.  I was fascinated by the purity and lustre of the jade piece when I received it.  Its craftsmanship was delicate and in great details, which didn’t look a bit different from my new jadeite carvings with my naked eyes.  But when it was examined under a high power loupe, I saw differences; though I was not sure what they were and what had made them look like that.

At that time, my knowledge on nephrite, especially antique nephrites, was very limited.  So I bought and read a lot of books, especially those on museum collections, to enrich my knowledge.  I joined open forums on jade collections in both Taiwan and PRC.  I participated actively and communicated privately with some honest and frank collectors seeking their views on some doubtful pieces posted on the forums.  I bought quite a lot of new and old nephrite pieces from some reliable sources in PRC, Taiwan and USA through the internet, and also locally, for studying and collection purposes.

My interest on jade collection has always been changing. In the past few years, I only collect antique nephrite jade pieces, not only because of the great craftsmanship of our ancestral cravers, but every one of them carries pieces of unknown history of their former owners that can no longer be dug out.  Isn’t that wonderful?

Next time I shall talk about what jades are from a Chinese point of view.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Jadeite came to China in the 17th Century.
    Newly carved jadeite in the market is 95% artificial coloring.
    Antique jadeite and newly carved one in tourist streets in HK are mostly dyed quartzite and/or molded and carved glass and/or polymer.

    Jade in Chinese term means beautiful stone.

    Buyer beware.

    Have fun

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