My family was persecuted many years ago during the Cultural Revolution in China. All of our artwork, property, jewelry, and other worldly possessions were confiscated by the Communist regime. In the beginning of the revolution before things turned brutal, my grandfather was told by the Communists that all of the family’s possessions would be kept in the bank for “safe keeping” and returned to him after the revolution. He was encouraged to visit the safe and continue to stash valuable items there. My paternal grandfather, a savvy man-of-the-world with nerves of steel, suspected otherwise. He convinced my grandmother to accompany him to the bank to survey their possessions–a trip he usually took alone. He told her to wear her jade necklace, a strand of large perfectly round beads made of a flawless jade so green they pierced the eyes. He said even though there was a revolution afoot, one must still keep up standards. At the bank, he told her he had a change of heart, “Take your necklace off, I will put it in safety deposit. We will get it back after the revolution as they promise.” My grandmother did as she was told. To her surprise, he returned with a box that contained an identical necklace. He had a glass replica made for her so she could still have something to wear while the real jade necklace was in safe keeping. My grandmother was not a fussy woman, she put on the glass necklace and that was that.
As the revolution turned into a slaughter, my family lost everything; children were made to betray their parents, women were tortured, youth were sent to work camps in the countryside, and that safe in the bank turned into property of the Communist Regime. My grandparents eventually emigrated to the United States and the travesties that occurred during the revolution became fuzzy-edged tales of a distant past. As a child, I remember my grandfather putting a jade necklace up for auction at Sotheby’s in the early 80′s but didn’t learn the story until much later. As it turns out, grandpa knew all along that the best way to hide a treasure is in plain sight. While the glass replica of my grandmother’s jade necklace sat in the safe amongst all our family’s other treasures, my grandmother dragged her pristine jade necklace through the Cultural Revolution to America all the while thinking it was a worthless string of colored glass.
Jean & Alex jade ring with diamonds and pink sapphire set in 20k yellow gold, black gold and platinum. Designed by my father for my mother.
I always thought of jade as the signature bangles worn by old ladies in Chinatown and was never particularly drawn to it until I saw a jade ring that my father designed for my mother. These days, high quality jade can fetch millions of dollars but lower quality jade is still quite affordable. Jade comes in all different colors, green, purple, pink, white, black and yellow. If you encounter a vividly colored piece of jade jewelry that is quite affordable, it is most likely color-treated or faux (i.e.glass). There is nothing wrong with purchasing color-treated jade but as with everything, one should buy it knowingly. Here is a tribute to all things jade, real, faux and everything in between.
Rosantica, jade and agate necklace, available here.
Elisabeth Cole costume earrings, available here.
Napier, faux jade elephant and filigree earrings, available here.
White topaz, 18k yellow gold and black jade ring, available here.
Valentino Rockstud sandals, available here.
ID Sarrieri, jade blossom triangle bra, available here.
ID Sarrieri, jade blossom bikini, available here.
YSL, La Laque Couture, nail polish, available here.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,