Jewel of the day: Highly Important Jadeite Bangle

When an auction house, in this case Sotheby’s, uses the phrase highly important, expect the item in question to fetch big bucks due to rarity or provenance. The catalogue has an interesting back story for this piece: For hundreds of years, jadeite has been a symbol of supreme status and extreme wealth. Among the various forms of jewellery that could be carved from a jadeite boulder, bangles and bead necklaces command the highest value, mainly due to the immense wastage incurred during the cutting process. Jadeite bangles are hololiths, which means they are carved from a single piece of stone. For a bangle to be as durable as a piece of jewelry, the boulder must be almost fully free of fissures and inclusions. The quality of the jadeite boulder also dictates the size, shape and colour distribution of a bangle.

The formation of the finest jadeite requires extreme conditions, and Burma, with its low-temperature and high-pressure geological environment, remains the main source of the world’s production. Yet, the availability of roughs is limited, and the quality of many is far from satisfactory. The lack of colour intensity, translucency and purity of the material makes it unsuitable for high jewellery. Even when a top-quality jadeite boulder is available, it is rarely carved into a bangle, because of the risk that a cutter could encounter unforeseeable inclusions during the process would cause more wastage.

The jadeite bangle offered here is a rare treasure that occurs despite all the above-mentioned limitations. With its extraordinary translucency and well-proportioned size and thickness, the bangle is filled completely with a vibrant and saturated emerald green colour, appearing almost vitreous and glassy in texture.

Fine jadeite bangles of such caliber are exceedingly scarce, so much so that they are a rarity even at international auctions. In April 2014, Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold a highly important oval Guifei bangle for HK$43.8 million. After more than two years, we are proud to present this bangle of truly exceptional quality at this autumn auction.”

This bangle’s estimate is 50,000,000 — 70,000,000 HKD, or approximately USD$6.5-9 million.



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