Chinese jade artifacts are not only pieces of artworks but also the physical evidences of the records of Chinese history. The previous statement is true only if these artifacts are genuine. Therefore, the value of jade artifacts depends on its genuineness in addition to other factors such as quality of jade and mastery of workmanship etc.. As a result, jade authentication is of paramount importance in the Chinese jade studies.
There were many writings on the jade authentication theory and practice since the Song and Yuan dynasties (906 CE -1379CE) in the Chinese history. Among them, the most popular two works were published in the late Qing and early Republic periods. Today, although there are many jade authentication methodologies that appeared in the publications, there are a lot of disagreements on the accuracy of the various methodologies and the theories behind them. Many of the methods used by professional researchers and collectors in the authentication of Chinese antique jades tend to be very subjective, often rely heavily on appearance, feeling, etc…
In the 1995 jade’s authentication conference held in Taipei, Prof. Tsien, H. H. proposed a scientific approach on jade’s authentication in the article of Mineralogical Studies of Archaic Jades. Since then, the scientific method for jade’s authentication has gained wide acceptance from both academia and professionals in Taiwan and other parts of the world. According to Prof. Tsien, the steps for authentication of jade antiques consist of medium authentication, jade antiquity authentication and period verification. The first two steps of jade’s authentication method are fully explained in the following sections. For the discussion of the period verification, please refer to the information on motif and carving style for a particular period shown in the A Comprehensive Handbook of Chinese Archaic Jades or go to timeline of chinese jade-neolithic period and timeline of chinese jade-the dynasties.
Jade antiquity authentication may be verified through evidences of certain physical and chemical characteristics. These evidences consist of dissolved pits, cleaving veins, differential weathering, diffusive markings, exposure crystals, deterioration marking and secondary additive crystal planes. In addition, mineral attachments such as gold or silver placer may be served as an evidence that the sample jade has been buried under the ground. These physical and chemical phenomena are formed by nature through ages and cannot be made by human beings. The authentication of these antiquity evidences is of paramount importance in the whole process of the scientific method of antiquity jade authentication.