Fake jades have been a long history since the Song and Ming dynasties in China. However, the purposes to fake ancient jades in Song and Ming dynasties are based on the reasons different from those of nowadays. According to historical documents, collectors from the royal families and ordinary people in the Song and Ming dynasties adored jades of the Warring States and Han dynasties, the jade workshops then tried to fake the jades carrying the antiquity of previous periods especially the Warring States and Han Dynasty. The reasons to fake ancient jades for them are not due to commercial considerations. The people to fake jades today are purely due to commercial purpose. Therefore, we should distinguish between these two kinds of fake jade artifacts. The first kind is the Song or Ming jades copied from the Warring states and Han Dynasty. The other kind is the modern copies. Generally speaking, we may distinguish between genuine antiquity jades and fake antique jades based on elements including quality of jade, carving methods, appearance of jade and genuineness of antiquity evidences. Some of these elements are overlapped with attributes to authenticate jades without unearthed reports. The descriptions of these elements are as follows:
Jade quality: Good quality vs. inferior quality
Since the Shang Dynasty, many jade artifacts are made from high quality jades; even high quality Hetian jades are not uncommon. High quality jades are much precious in ancient China. As a general rule, most of the genuine jades especially those for the royal courts and noble classes are made from high quality. On the contrary, fake artifact usually use jade of inferior quality even use fabricated jade from jade powder in order to save cost. Some fake object use impure raw jade with diversified colors to fake the appearance of diffusive markings.
Carving methods: Ancient tools vs. modern tools
.It not correct to assume that the workmanship of jade artifact has better result by using modern automatic tools than ancient manual tools. The fact may be just the opposite. Due to the particular nature of jade, by using manual tools with longer repeating work will have better result than using modern automatic tools with fast and quick work. In addition, the extent of dedication and degree of patience of the workers also result in different effects of workmanship. In ancient time, a jade carving will take months even years to work out, instead of today’s days or weeks to work out. Furthermore, in the slavery society, the jade carvers themselves are slaves. They are working with fully responsibilities. They have to work carefully in order not to fail and be punished. In other words, they are betting their life on the jade carving. That is why when we appreciate a jade artifact, we should pay our respect to the jade not only because it is a ritual object, but also because it is the result of jade carver’s sweat and tear even blood. Therefore, even try to use manual tools to carve, modern copies are definitely different from ancient jades. Not to mention that some of the ancient techniques could not be copied with today’s modern tools.
Appearance of jade: Brightness of color, feeling of oily touching
Genuineness of antiquity evidences: Natural appearance, gradual formation, irregular forms vs. artificial coloring and acid abrasive. The real old jades usually covered by calcification that in some cases was scrubbed away (called opening the window) in order the jade can be seen while the fake jade usually made it looking old by covering chemicals or dirt (reverse the process). If the whole jade covered lime to have a cloudy appearance or has scattered white pits, it is very probable fake.
The sequence between carving and the formation of antiquity evidences: The antiquity evidence should be on top of the carving and not the other way.
Workmanship and artistic elaboration
The workmanship of genuine jade usually is presented with artistic elaboration. It is noted the simple and crude carving of burial jades should not be used as samples. Those jades are carved in a short time to only serve the purpose for the dead body. It is different from the jade collection of the passed away during his lifetime.