Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Glue for colored jade

Does anyone know what kind of glue is used on the colored jade
bracelets that are cylinder shapes glued into bezels? That is some
strong stuff.

Hi Richard;

Does anyone know what kind of glue is used on the colored jade
bracelets that are cylinder shapes glued into bezels? That is some
strong stuff. 

Yikes! I know exactly what you are dealing with.

I have no idea what that stuff is, maybe something from the dental
industry used to glue caps in place. It’s wicked getting those
suckers apart. I’ve soaked them in MEK, acetone, you name it. It
seems to be some sort of epoxy. In most cases, I’ve had to heat the
caps with a torch, being extra careful not to hit the jade directly,
until they let go. Good luck, and if you come up with something
better than heat, I’d be glad to hear of it.

David L. Huffman

I have no idea what that stuff is, maybe something from the dental
industry used to glue caps in place. It's wicked getting those
suckers apart. 

I put off answereing this because I thought someone else might know
better, but if David Huffman doesn’t know then nobody does. I believe
that it’s some sort of horsehide glue, like bookbinders use.
Basically a native, traditional glue. I say I believe because it acts
like that - I don’t know for a fact.

David et al,

Doubt that it is an epoxy, as the epoxies tend to break down over
time, although there are a couple of formulations that would work.
Loctite Corp, makes some special order adhesives that will do the
trick for metal-to-stone bonds; some will withstand boiling in
nitric acid for 30 days!!! BUT…they might not withstand
continuous exposure to ordinary moisture…visit and be
prepared to spend some time going over the technical data.

In a closed area, like you describe for the jade bracelets, a good
two-part epoxy will function well. I use 6-7 different adhesives for
different applications on a daily basis, and frustrating
experiences, including breaking some of these bonds, forced me to do
my research long ago. Like most research though, it is on-going as
the products can change without notice and new products are released

One of the very best off-the-shelf and easily obtainable epoxies is
Devcon 5 Minute Fast Drying Epoxy. (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Internet) It
takes 24 hours to obtain 95% of maximum strength, but can be handled
in a few minutes. This is also fine for inlay work, but not a good
choice for bonds that are exposed as water WILL break this bond over
a long period of time.

The bond can be chemically destroyed with methylene chloride (most
paint strippers), acetone, MEK, nitromethane/alkane mixes, etc.
(PLEASE CONSULT MSDS sheets for proper cautions, especially
methylene chloride which IS a powerful carcinogen), but the
closed-off area you describe in those bangles can be a challenge to
release chemically and can take days. As you’ve discovered, the slow
and judicious application of heat speeds the process and this epoxy
will fail at around 200 degrees. But here’s a trick for releasing
most epoxies that we use in faceting:

Place a paper towel on the bottom of a small dishpan and add about
1-1 1/2 inches of water, then the bangle. Place on the stove on
medium haet for 5 minutes, then turn heat to high. Boil the piece
for a few minutes and the stones should release cleanly from most
commercial epoxies; for a closed bond, this may take a while, for an
open bond it is rapid; however, I have seen this fail with the newer
formulation of the Devcon 5 Minute product. But the torch will do

The cyanoacrylates (super Glues) are another family of tenacious
adhesives that can be released with heat, but they require much
higher heat levels than the epoxies. 350 F will usually do the
trick, but the newer formulation of Loctite Professional Grade Super
Glue is very difficult to break with heat. Formerly, a few seconds
of a mini-torch or a minute in a candle flame would release the
bond, but no more. Freezing for a few minutes works on many
adhesives, but not this stuff. The best way I have to found to
remove it is a long soak in acetone or nitromethane. Again, the
closed bond in the bracelets could take a day or more.

Yet another product is the various formulations of UV-curing
adhesives. Quite tenacious, but most will still yield to acetone
over an extended period; some will not, they are there to stay.
Visit Norland Products at (I think), and you will see
that they have a product or two that can be cured using your choice
of UV light or low heat! This product is excellent for inlay work
that you wish to last beyond your lifetime. I use it to assemble
doublets for custom faceting consisting of strontium titanate
pavilions and colorless synthetic sapphire caps. Let’s say it works
well, but I’ve never tried to get any apart.

Oh, obviously, before joining, all parts need to be clean.
Isoprpopyl or denatured alcohol is a good choice here. When using
cyanoacrylates, breathing on the pieces will provide a small amount
of moisture that accelerates the bond (!), but is not necessary.
Commercial accelerators in spray form work well, but do reduce bond
strength. Some cyanos will fill gaps, some will not. Some are
water-resistant, some are not.

An extended visit to Loctite’s or Devcon’s web sites is educational.

I’d like to note that some modern adhesives have a bond that is
stronger than the shear strength of aluminum; in some cases,
stronger than soldering. Some industrial situations where heat
treated steel bolts and nuts are used to attach things have now been
replaced with adhesives, because they are stronger. Many will cringe
at the notion, but the right adhesive is BETTER than prongs in many
situations. There, I said it.

Anyway, I hope that helps some of you.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter

better, but if David Huffman doesn't know then nobody does. I
believe that it's some sort of horsehide glue, like bookbinders

Thanks for the compliment, John, but I just manage to keep the holes
in my knowlege well hidden. That it might be hide glue makes sense,
that stuff is surprisingly tough. If that’s what it is, maybe a long
soak in hot water might loosen it. Now I’m really interested in this,
because sooner or later, I’m going to see another of those bracelets,
and it’s risky heating them with a torch, which is all I’ve found
works so far.

David L. Huffman

Hi John,

I believe that it's some sort of horsehide glue, like bookbinders

I don’t recall if David said it was waterproof or not. If it’s
waterproof it can’t be hide glue. Hide glue (at least the original
stuff isn’t) isn’t waterproof.


Hi Richard,

The glue is probably one of the epoxies. Try putting the pieces in
the freezer overnight and see if that loosens them.

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

that it's some sort of horsehide glue, like bookbinders use.
Basically a native, traditional glue. I say I believe because it

Bookbinders often use a rabbit hide glue. One popular brand is Yes!
glue, if I remember right. You can buy that kind of supply at

and Pearl Art and Craft.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi David,

If my previously recommended water boil does not work, here’s
another route…

Place the piece in the freezer for 20 minutes or so. Many adhesives
like the organic horsehide or fish glues will fail at freezing.
Other adhesives that do not fail at freezer temps will be
considerably weakened. After the piece returns to room temp, heat it
gently and slowly on a plate set on an electric hot plate (I use a
thin piece of sheet steel, as it heats slowly and holds the heat
well). Medium heat has always loosened any adhesive so far, except
the newer formulations of cyanoacrylate. They need a bit more heat,
but nothing approaching red hot.

For anyone reading this who does not have plenty of experience,
please know that jade is very forgiving of heat abuse with the
torch, but the dyed materials are unpredictable. I have never
experienced damage using the methods outlined above, but I am a
lapidary…meaning, I guess, that you should be careful with these
methods with other materials. Forget doing this with amber, jet,
coral, ivory, tagua nut and use great caution with lapis and
sugilite, chrysocolla, malachite, any of the carbonates, actually,
and turquoise, etc.

I’ve been writing a series of ongoing articles about the handling of
gem/lapidary materials for Brad Simon’s Bench Magazine; when it is
done, the info will be compiled and made available to any and all
who wish to read it at no charge…but it’ll be a while. I suggest
subscribing to Brad’s free newsletter and Bench Magazine.

I have no financial affiliation nor am I paid for the
articles…just saying.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter

Hi Richard

Is it maybe the glue called ‘Hot Stuff’? We use this glue for gluing
together stones and there is a little thicker version for wider
cracks, a spray on accelerant, and I think there was also a dissolver
for this as well. This is a cyanoacrylate type glue and it seem to
stick forever, dries clear and does not yellow with age.

Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Is it maybe the glue called 'Hot Stuff'? We use this glue for

The glue in question, in the original post, is that stuff they use in
Asia to glue jade bracelets to the gold hinges and clasps. It’s also
used for some other things, here and there - saddle rings for one. I
know it well, though as I said I don’t know what it is. It’s brownish
colored, seems to be thick, unlike superglues are - it’s almost like
shellac, though it’s not shellac. It is also tenacious. What it
resembles a lot is that stuff called “mucilage” that comes in a
with the rubber nipple-cap on top. I can only go by look-and-feel,
but it’s not epoxy and it’s not cyanoacrylate - and the Gorilla glue
types won’t even work in the application. I’m also curious what it
is, but nobody here seems to actually know, either. I’m not any kind
of adhesive expert, but I encounter most of them somewhere along the
line. This one “feels” to me to be an old, traditional kind of glue,
like a hide glue, as I said. It doesn’t have any kind of high-tech
edge to it. Again, just clues, I don’t actually know.

Sorry for the late posting. Talk of very strong glues reminded me of
the process of glue-chipping of glass, whereby a strong hide glue
painted on suitably-prepared glass is allowed to dry. This
subsequently breaks fragments of glass off as the glue dries and
contracts. The resulting fracture pattern I imagine as a kind of
series of scallops.

I read of the process on

It is possible that such a hide glue would be very effective for
glueing jade in confined spaces; the initial ‘set’ would be due to
the cooling and gelling of the glue, the final ‘set’ would be after
all water had evaporated. If it is anything like the rabbit skin
glue we use in our workshop for gilding, it then takes quite a lot
of effort to re-soften it. During this time the glue swells due to
uptake of water, greatly hindering any disassembly required.

Paul Jelley

There is a cyanoacrylate glue called Hot Stuff that is used a great
deal by stone sculptures to heal cracks that emerge while carving, I
have use a great deal myself on marble, granite, alabaster and
limestone. All the bottles I had were yellow labelled and about 1.5
ozs I think, for the thickened type and red labelled for the thin.
This glue works very well and is slightly different than super glue
though it is common to super glue.

Daniel Culver