Chinese Classifications


Carved jade. Image taken from

The Chinese classify jade with three systems:

Yu: The common name for jade.

Pi Yu: Dark green in color with serpentine like characteristics. Found in Barkul, Manas in Sungaria, and Lake Baikal's mountain slopes in Western Yunnan, now imported from Burma.

Fei-ts'ui: Emerald green similar to the plumage of the Kingfisher
(Nott, 1962, p. 1).

Colors most sought after by the Chinese

"There is a river in Yarkand in which are found Jade pebbles. There are many different colors, among which snow white, kingfisher green, beeswax yellow, cinnabar red, and ink black are considered valuable; but the most difficult to find are pieces of pure mutton fat texture with vermilion spots, and others of bright spinach green flecked with shining points of gold, so that these two varieties rank as the rarest and most precious of jades" (Nott, 1962, p. 1).

This manchurian translation gives us the Chinese color preferences that stand true today, with the addition of Lavender variety of jadeite. The lavender is mainly found in Burma at the beginning Chindwin and Mogaung rivers.

The Chinese Place value on jade by color, sonorousness when tapped and the absence of fractures. When polished the best jade has a soft greasy look and oily feel. An inferior jade does not have this feel or appearance and is of lesser value.

According to Nott (1962), jadeite is overall brighter and much more translucent and vivid than nephrite (p. 1). The most common colors are lavender and apple green, while white that is streaked with an emerald green is sought after as the most valuable.

Nephrite is colored by iron which gives it a green color that deepens as the Fe increases.  Other colors of nephrite are: gray, blue gray, reddish gray, yelow, black, cream, and limpid white also called mutton fat (Nott, 1962, p. 2).

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