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"Mutton Fat" Jade

Hi everyone, I read all the recent posts on “confused about Jade” and
decided to do a little research on “Mutton Fat” Jade as there were
different opinions posted.

My sources included 2 Jade books I recently purchased at an antique
store that were copyrighted in 1969 and 1962. In addition I looked
at more recent gem books that I have. There was only mention of this
term in a few of the books. I do not have current Jade Books.

The term “Mutton Fat” is a nephrite jade that refers to white or
yellowish white, or cream color. This is due to the fact that there
is more magnesium and a reduction of iron. An older book says the
white is produced by small traces of manganese. The term was coined
by the Chinese. In one of the books there was mention that the
Chinese had a different name for every single color of jade.

If anyone has additional from a current book I would be
interested in hearing about it.


Dear Diane, I am fortunate to have one of the better publications on
Jade published in 1984 under the title,“Jade For You” and subtitled,
“Value Guide To Fine Jewelry Jade”. It was written by John Y. Ng and
Edmund Root. The Publisher was “The Jade and Gem Corporation of
America, Los Angeles. On page thirty it gives the following
definition of Mutton Fat Jade:” This name is reserved for a clear to
yellowish white Nephrite Jade, usually quite ancient or used in less
expensive pieces today." This book is one of the more remarkable
volumes I have in my collection. It features a precise color wheel of
Jade photographs which depict the subtle variations in color and
texture in Jade and suggestions as to how they affect value. There is
even a photographic depiction of the secret handshakes that are used
to negotiate Jade purchases in the Orient.

Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

Been watching this thing on Mutton Fat jade now for some time.
Believe now is the time to weigh in just a bit. I lived in various
parts of Asia on and off for nearly 20 years and had occasion to see,
buy and work lots of jadite and nephrite. While in Korea in the
early 70’s I was given a small piece of extremely light green nephrite
jade by a friend who said they got it from a relative who, in turn,
was ‘mining’ it in the mountains of South Korea near the DMZ. At the
time, that was all I could get. A few years later, while living in
Taiwan during the height of the gem cutting craze there, I came across
a factory that was importing huge blocks of Korean nephrite jade that
was a creamy white to gray white with areas of brown or red brown.
This stuff was so translucent you could clearly see light through
pieces over 2 feet thick! Absolutely pure…no inclusions or flaws in
most of it. The factory was carving beautiful reproductions of
ancient Chinese pieces. The owner, Mrs Tung, was careful to point out
to all that her pieces were repros…not originals though now and then
one would show up in Sotheby’s or other houses as an original ancient

I was able to obtain several rough pieces of this nephrite and have
cut many gorgeous cabs from it. Many of my Chinese friends have
purchased them from me…no questions asked re price…they recognize
good Jade when they see it and believe me it is not cheap!!.
Unfortunately, the vein ran down under the DMZ and mining had to stop
in the early 80’s. My supply has run its course, except for a couple
prize pieces with which I would never part! This stuff takes a mirror
finish and is the best ‘Mutton Fat’ jade I have ever seen bar none and
I used to haunt the National Museum outside Taipei, so I’ve seen the
gamut of high quality jadite/nephrite.

Maybe some day, when North and South Korea settle their differences
some entrepreneur will once again mine this beautiful material. Keep
an eye out–

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SO FL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry.