The rarity and beauty of the jadeite made it a prerogative of the emperors. Its shaping requires a detailed observation of the rough stone and a long patience. Its emerald green color and its transparency can be marred by cracks that will expand during grinding or carving, or by chemical impurities that will cancel the visual homogeneity of the piece.
The use of jadeite in high jewelry finds its culmination during the reign of Qianlong. The lacking of new deposits of sufficient quality made its process regressing despite an undeniable easier practice offered by modern machine tools.
Large stones were used for bracelets and beads. A collection of jade beads with a homogeneous visual effect from a single original boulder may create fabulous necklaces. One of them assembled by Cartier in 1933 was sold for HK $ 214M including premium by Sotheby's on April 7, 2014.
The rigid bracelets uninterrupted by a clasp are even more a mark of opulence when considering the losses of material by the central hollowing. These jewels could not maintain the desired perfection in large size and the emperors reserved them for the little wrists of their wives. An oval piece 55.45 to 47.30 mm in internal diameter with a beautiful thickness of 13.41 mm probably realized under Qianlong by imitation of the antique taste was sold for HK $ 44M including premium by Sotheby's in the same auction as the Cartier necklace.
The preferred shape under Qianlong is however the circle, symbol of the perfection of the heavens. Jade takes a role similar as the lotus in the link between the earthly soil and the mystic sky. A brilliant emerald green piece with a very good transparency and homogeneity measuring 56.86 mm internal diameter and 11.62 mm thick is estimated HK $ 80M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 3, lot 1771.
As with pink diamonds, very subtle differences significantly change the price and a direct inspection remains highly recommended. I previously discussed in this chronicle a circular bangle whose color was identified as intense, 55.91 mm in internal diameter and 10.66 mm thick, which remained unsold at Sotheby's on October 4, 2016 from a lower estimate of HK $ 50M.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's to introduce the bangle of the next sale.