How to Know If Chinese Jade Carvings Are Valuable: A Guide


Chinese jade carvings earn praise for their quality and intricacy going back more than two thousand years. There are a few factors that can make a jade carving valuable to a collector. They range from a stone’s purity to the more intangible value of a piece’s age.

How do these factors work together to determine the value of a jade carving? Is that Chinese jade bangle you have your eye on of a high purity? Read on to know if Chinese jade carvings are valuable.


A jade carving should have an even color with no cloudiness. The color itself doesn’t matter, as jade comes in many colors. The most popular color of jade is green, also known as Imperial Jade. White is also a popular color of jade.

There are two types of jade: nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite, when polished, looks waxy. Jadeite, in comparison, tends to be very glossy.

Carving Quality

If a jade carving was done by a master craftsman, it will be more valuable than one done by a less experienced carver. When carved with the nuances of the stone in mind, the hidden beauty can be highlighted. A master can use the subtle color differences in the stone to enhance the carving.

You are looking for technical things like evenly spaced parallel lines and realistic features. You don’t want awkward angles or worse, unfinished sections to ruin the jade aesthetic. There shouldn’t be any rough patches on the surface of the carving.

Subject Matter

The best jade carvings go above and beyond in the subject matter of the carving. It should be playful or humorous and imaginative. An innovative carving elevates it from just okay to a masterpiece.

The skill at which these themes are brought forth from the stone is also something to consider. An accurately rendered scene can help bring life to a carving, letting the stone’s beauty shine through. Seeing the subject matter rendered in a way that makes you question how it was made can elevate the value a lot.


The aspects of a carving that might not be visible are called intangibles. When it comes to evaluating a jade carving or jade jewelry, the biggest intangible is age. How old is the piece that has your interest?

The age of the carving drastically drives up the value of a piece. This intangible is threatened by clever reproductions that flooded auction markets in the recent past. This is largely combated by provenance.

Provenance, or the pedigree, of a carving, tells you where a piece has been. It tells you who has owned the piece, what collections it is a part of. Provenance is a widely used way of evaluating a piece over the style, as that can be faked by a clever lapidary.

Chinese Jade Carvings

Both tangible and intangible factors of a Chinese jade carving are key to determining the value of a piece. Some of these are more subjective than others, but art is often subjective. Jade carving is one of the most widely respected art forms across the world.

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