Jade Cabochons and Beads
One of the most expensive jewellery pieces in the world is a jadeite beads necklace which auctioned for well over 10million USD by Christie’s in 2017. 29 Beautiful green jadeite beads make up the exquisite necklace and it was a showcase to the world, the exquisite value of fine jadeite in polished and unfaceted forms.
Jadeite beads are crafted usually out of a single raw jadeite stone. This is to maintain uniformity of the colour in the jadeite or to have a similar colour hue in a jadeite beads bracelet or necklace. Each jadeite bead is polished into a globe shape, being circular all around with no carvings applied. Fine jadeite material with intense colour hues and translucency is hard to come by and in designing jewellery out of fine jadeite, the main goal is to preserve as much of the raw material as possible. By fashioning jadeite into uncarved jewellery, this goal is achieved where the least amount of raw material is wasted. To find fine quality raw jadeite to carve a full set of matching jadeite beads is an extremely difficult ask which simply leads to the rarity and exclusivity of fine jadeite bead necklaces or bracelets.
In jadeite jewellery, cabochons are another popular way of crafting and polishing to bring out the clarity and translucency of the raw jadeite material. If the jadeite raw material is found in a smaller size, the finest parts of the raw material will be carved out to be polished into cabochons if the raw jadeite material is clean and relatively devoid of impurities. Once polished, highly translucent cabochons will be almost glass like and see-through. If there are inclusions or impurities found within the jadeite raw material, crafting the material into cabochons will not as optimal. Skilled craftsmen will design intricate carvings to retain as much of the clear jadeite material while removing any unwanted material.
An illustration of the differences in how jadeite beads and cabochons look like is shown here for reference.