How to Appraise Chinese Jade artifacts?

According to the well-known expert on jade identification and appraisal, Dr. Daphne Lange Rosenzweig, the value of jade antiques may be appraised through the following factors:
1. Physical properties:
a. Identification and quality of the material
b. Size and condition of the carving
2. Aesthetic properties:
a. Quality of the workmanship
b. School, style and period characteristics( note: this item may not be relevant in jade antique )
c. Consideration of shape, subject, color, proportion and size.  According to Prof. Henry G. Hartman( Aesthetics, A Critical Theory of Art), ..beauty ..is harmony, proportion, symmetry, unity in variety, perfection, meaning, reason, or truth. I think this is the aesthetic property instead of school, style and period characteristics which should be neutral to the value of antique jades.

3.Extraneous properties:
a. Provenance
b. Market volatility and local taste
Dr. Rosenzweig stresses the necessary discipline of judging jade on its own merits and not by its pedigree or the important name of its former owner. Generally speaking, the jade antique to be collected must be those valuable items which are genuine with fine workmanship. (Source:  Roger Keverne( Consultant Editor):Jade, Lorenz Books, 1995, pp.196-207) In order to carry out the actual appraisal, qualitative factors have to be  transformed into quantitative measurements. Theoretically speaking, Delphi method has to be applied via pooling the opinions of a group of experts. In practice, jade appraisal usually takes market approach to evaluate a particular jade item by comparing prices of similar items sold in the market. If no market value may be found and before more sophisticated methods available, then the appraisal may be based on original purchase price multiplied by inflation index or use an inflation calculator.

 

Chinese Jades Chronology(Timeline of Chinese Jades)

 

The chronology or the timeline of the Chinese jade is the prerequisite knowledge for Chinese jade artifacts authentication and appreciation. The division of the timeline of Chinese jades is usually based on the records from archaeological excavation and the documentations of the jade artifacts of museums displaying them. The timeline of Chinese jades this handbook follows is roughly divided into two time spans: the Neolithic periods and the dynasties. It should be noted that the later Neolithic periods and the early dynasties may be overlapped.

The Neolithic periods mainly cover Hongshan Culture (3500 BCE[1]– 2200 BCE), Liangzhu Culture (3400 BCE -1700 BCE), Shijiahe Culture (2500 BCE -2000 BCE), Qijia Culture (2400 BCE– 1900 BCE) and Sanxingdui Culture (1600 BCE -221 BCE)[2].

The main dynasties in the Chinese history in terms of jade artifact development are divided into Xia Dynasty (2183 BCE- 1751 BCE ), Shang Dynasty (1766 BCE- 1122 BCE), Western Zhou Dynasty (1122 BCE-771 BCE),  Spring-Autumn & Warring States Periods (770 BCE- 221 BCE), Chin Dynasty (221 BCE- 206 BCE),  Han Dynasty (220 BCE-220 CE), Tang, Song, Liao, Jin & Yuan Dynasties (618 CE -1368 CE) and Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 CE – 1911 CE).

 

 

[1] Following the timeline system symbols adopted by Marilyn Stokstad, Art History , Volume One, Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005 (BCE is equivalent to BC, CE is equivalent to AD)

[2] Although jades from Xinglongwa Culture eight thousand years ago are believed to be the earliest jades in China, this handbook only covers the mainstream in the Chinese jade development.