As if I’m not having enough problems, I’m now the victim of an
insane actof generosity.
An elderly friend of my father in law, who upon learning that I was
a beginning silversmith and lapidary, decided to dump a bunch of
rocks on me a couple days ago.
One of those was a rough boulder, about 1 foot long by 5 inches
across, slightly kidney shaped, mostly dark forest green with white
mottling, cannot be scratched by a steel pocket knife, has a smooth
and sticky touch to it, and is very cold to the touch even in warm
weather. It is also extremely heavy.
He claims that it is jade from Norway, that he got in his younger
days (he’s 70+ now). He said he had more where it came from and so
he wanted me to have this piece.
I’ve sent pictures to The Vug and they tentatively identify it as
Since I am but only an egg when it comes to stone shaping, never
mind jade carving, I’m trying to figure out the best use for this
Do I dare cut it up and use it myself, learning how to become a
jade carver by trial and error and ruining most of the stone?
Do I slab it and trade some of the slabs I need for other types
of cabbing rough or even minor supplies, while I play with the rest?
Do I trade away the entire stone for a major piece of equipment
such as a gem faceting machine?
A) Who would be able or willing to give me a definitive analysis of
B) Who would be able or willing to slab the jade in a matter which
does it justice?
One of those was a rough boulder, about 1 foot long by 5 inches
across, slightly kidney shaped, mostly dark forest green with
white mottling, cannot be scratched by a steel pocket knife, has a
smooth and sticky touch to it, and is very cold to the touch even
in warm weather. It is also extremely heavy.
When you said “slightly kidney shaped” it triggered something in my
memory. I am not a Jadeite expert, but I believe that “kidney shaped”
is the characteristic that miners are looking for. It may be the
indication of superb color inside. Jadeite rough is highly oxidized
on the surface and inside could be quite different.
There is a huge difference between Jade and Jadeite. Jadeite of good
color is a very valuable material. The trick is to determine what is
inside your boulder without destroying it. It is not a good idea to
saw it in half, because by doing so you could be destroying a region
of great color. The way it is usually done - the boulder is ground a
thin layer at a time, from different angles, to reveal what is
inside. Think about peeling an onion.
It is very time consuming and expensive process, but the efforts may
pay off at the end. However it may not. Since you are not a lapidary,
see if you can partner with one who is willing to invest time and
resources to determine what is inside your boulder. If great color
will be discovered, both of you will be very handsomely compensated
for your efforts.
There is a huge difference between Jade and Jadeite. Jadeite of
good color is a very valuable material. The trick is to determine
what is inside your boulder without destroying it. It is not a good
idea to saw it in half, because by doing so you could be destroying
a region of great color. The way it is usually done - the boulder
is ground a thin layer at a time, from different angles, to reveal
what is inside. Think about peeling an onion.
What I did was this. I sawed a tiny piece off the nose using my trim
saw. I then lapped all surfaces of the piece using flat laps at 325,
1200, then 3000 grit. Finally, I polished using ZAM on a felt tip on
my Craftsman flex shaft.
Arguably I could have done much better with my polishing but that
was as good as I had at the time. The piece is polished very nicely
to the naked eye but seems to need more work under 5X magnification,
but I didn’t do so bad for the purpose of a rough-and-ready set of
I then submitted photos of the polished piece to The Vug. I have it
on Justin’s good authority that the sample I just polished is
Nephrite, an extremely common form of jade. Not worth very much, but
seemingly just the right material for a beginner like… gawd
I just put a couple photos on my Facebook.
Andrew Jonathan Fine
There is a huge difference between Jade and Jadeite.
Did you not mean to say there is a huge difference between nephrite
While I was in Mae Sot, Thailand last Winter, I was offered a kidney
shaped rock which had a beautiful mottled green seam about 2mm thick
on one end, which was about 2" x 1 1/2" and whichhad been polished,
There was another seam about the same thickness parallel to the first
and a couple of inches from the end. I travel to Southeas Asia often
and have see a lot of cut jadeite, but never in the rough as this one
is. I thought it was some sort of essentially valueless rock, but
figured I could do something with the green sections anyway. The
seller asked a price of about the equivalent of $500 US. At that
price I was not interested so I walked away. I was in the market area
for several hours though and kept being approached by this seller.
The short of it is that I finally bought it for 1,000 baht, about US
$35. Anyhow, when I got home I slabbed off the end piece and cut out
the other piece and was surprise to find that instead of the inside
being an ugly greyish black like the surface, it was white with some
faint traces of green throughout. Not only that but slabbing it
caused the saw coolant to become a thick white foam. Now I’m not sure
just what the material is, but the white material is the same as that
from which a lot of “jade” carvings are made which are abundantly
available there. Anyone have any thoughts?
Leonid., I beg to differ with you my friend. While you are correct in
saying that exceptional color Jadite specimens can rival valuations
of any other gemstone (I have seen exceptional examples go for
thousands of dollars whilst in Asia where jade is revered), nephrite
is certainly not limited to simply an ornamental material. I have a
collection of fine Canadian, Russian, Korean and Wyoming nephrites
that are far beyond such, and their valuation proves it. In some
cases material called nephrite may not even be considered, by some,
as true ‘nephrite’ but they are called such. Nonetheless, true
nephritic jade (as it is termed) can fetch a pretty penny.
Jerry,…from what you describe it may well be a piece of jadeite
but would need a lot more info to be sure. Jadeite (and nephrite to
some extent) cuts with a milky swarf. The greenish traces would also
place it in the jadeite category as well though this is not the kind
of material that is highly regarded in Asia where the deep
’kingfisher’ green is preferred. I have a bag of pendants of material
exactly as you describe. I would slab it out and isolate those areas
with the green and cut stones from them. Not sure what the current
going prices are but have seem nicely cut stones going for between
$30 to $75 depending on the amount of green and how pure it is. Nice
Does it scratch with a pocket knife, if it does it is probably
soapstone or serpentine"
No, I’m well aware of the difference between this and soapstone or
serpentine. I am quite sure what I have is jadeite but haven’t done
an R.I. on it yet. It’s the foam that cutting produces in the
coolant that I’ve never encountered before.