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    Feb 28

    untitled-30.jpgChinese jewelry, both of recent and early dates, showcases the well-known manipulative skill of the Chinese craftsmen. Yet the work of the goldsmith or lapidary, as applied to personal ornament, does not represent a distinctive branch of craft as it does in the West. Moreover, it is given no special attention by the native connoisseurs and writers on the arts.Most Chinese jewelry is made to complement the costume rather than adorn the person. They have an excessive and flimsy quality that is often not directly pleasing to Western eyes. In spite of this, Chinese jewelry still boasts some of the best designs in the world, featuring unique patterns and moldings in the form of bracelets, necklaces and pendants, as well as earrings, one of the most popular forms of ancient Chinese jewelry.
    untitled-31.jpg In 2005, the size of the Chinese jewelry market was equivalent to 140 billion Yuan or 17.3 billion US dollars. 36 percent is accounted as “colored gems” which includes jade. This data is based on studies conducted by China’s Jewelry and Jade Association (CJJA).
    Ancient Chinese jewelry features a myriad of forms, types, and designs. The primary adornments that were present in the past were illustrated by the local canon of beauty, resulting from ritual and socio-cultural fads of a certain ornament.

    So Chinese jewelry in ancient times was systematically grouped depending on direct associations with the norms of social etiquette and the aesthetic criteria of everyday life. Jewelry then could be distinguished as a head, ear, temple, neck, chest, hand, or foot adornment.

    Jewelry has been made from a variety of materials from malleable metals to precious gemstones. Heading the list of notable materials suited for Chinese Jewelry is jade or Yu – as it is spoken in the native tongue. Jade’s quality and distinctive properties do not only make it a precious stone for beautiful jewelry but also a symbol of the Chinese people’s traditions and beliefs. The Chinese regarded their jewelry as a means by which they can be protected from bad luck, danger, and evil spirits. Ornaments made of jade are considered a symbol of wealth and a precious talisman that wards away harm, and invites good luck.

    Jade is processed through a series of well defined mechanisms and methods. First, the raw stones are cut. They are, then, sorted into different classes: either as high quality material, ring surface material, makeup material, bangle material, or face cards material. A stone’s shape, color quality, imperfections and other factors determine how it is classified. Each raw stone will then be cut into pieces. Parts with the rich color will be extracted from the stone with accord to the location of flaws, intensity of color, axial direction, trend of the cackles and shape. Machines will, then, design the finished products with reference to the shape and color of the cut-out parts.

    untitled-32.jpgJade quality is fundamentally determined through the following criteria: cutting; texture; tone and color; and translucency and clarity. Cutting is determined by how well the jade has been moulded during shaping. Texture may range from coarse to fine. Generally, high quality jades are those that are free from impurities and are clear. Color quality is the most important issue in the critique of jade quality since the best colors are those that are considered penetrating. The colors must be unmixed and equally dispersed. Translucency on the other hand may ranges from opaque to transparent but the most desired quality is a honey-like clarity consistent throughout the stone.
    Almost 92 percent of the market allocation for colored gemstones China is dominated by jade or stones considered a type of jade by the Chinese. Only 8 percent is accounted for by other precious gemstones like sapphire, emerald, ruby, amber, cat’s eye gems, crystal and others.

    untitled-33.jpgJadeite is the most popular type of jade sold in the Chinese market. But jadeite is not found naturally in high quantities in China. It is imported from Myanmar, the biggest jadeite producing country in the world. As much as 90 percent of jadeite output in Myanmar has been exported to the Republic of China during the past five years.

    Platinum is also utilized as raw material for Chinese jewelry. Over the past decade, China’s trade of platinum jewelry rose from only a few million dollars to almost 3 billion US dollars per year.

    In 2005, China reportedly consumed about 60 tons of platinum for making jewelry. But the increase was short-lived because of platinum’s disdainful price plummeting sales by 8.1 percent in value and by 27.2 percent in volume.
    Another player in the market of Chinese jewelry is gold. This shiny metal’s total retail improved by 16 percent to 350 tons in 2006, comparative to that during the mid-1990s. Since gold is expensive, it is expected that sales for gold jewelry will start to decrease in the upcoming years.

    Other precious stones on the list are ruby, sapphire and diamond. The rubies and sapphires that entered the market of China during the 1990′s paved the way for another precious jewel: diamond. Since then diamond has dominated the market and is preferred over other gems. The previous decade laid witness to an increase in diamond sales from 230 million to around 1.8 billion US dollars. But Diamond’s natural clear white but dull and bland color is to mark its downfall soon as consumers now prefer colorful gemstones.

    The market for imports of jewelry and gemstones in China experienced an increase to 3 and half billion US dollars in 2005. Jewelry exports amounted to 5.49 billion US dollars alone. The exports on the other hand exhibited a typical increase to 2.9 billion US dollars in 2006 compared to the past years. Sixty percent of the export jewelry of China is mainly being processed in a small county, Panyu, located in the Guangdong province.

    Regardless of age and of the material it is made of, Chinese Jewelry was, and will still remain a reflection of the culture of the Chinese people. Jewelry has always been an integral part of the country’s heritage.

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