As an industrial designer my search for quality materials is never ending. But every so often I find a material that becomes much more than a tool for me- it becomes a passion. Understanding the worlds 10,000 year love affair with jade, my feelings toward the stone came as no surprise. Where the surprise would lay for me was in its properties.
Jade is among the hardest stones in the world with a hardness on the Moh scale of 6.5- 7.2. This means that to cut jade requires a stone of greater hardness, so options are limited to Sapphire (too rare and expensive), jade of a harder makeup (too slow) and diamond, which is the best choice due to abundance and hardness. Jade is also built like a fabric, with the stone being woven into itself which allows the stone to be cut very thin while retaining its strength. This makes it the ideal stone for modern tables where a thin profile is desired.
Another interesting property of jade is its translucence. Even jade that is 1″ (25mm) thick allows light to pass through in areas of the stone that are clear. The clear sections of the gemstone are the valuable parts of the stone, with the most expensive jade selling for $20,000 per karat! This is at the absolute height of perfection and will be of jadeite. For Canadian jade the price is a more reasonable $30 per kilo but can range from there up $1000 per kg.
Jade is sometimes called in Chinese the “Gambling Stone” due to the way it is purchased, which is in a boulder form so the inside quality is unknown. Once the stone is opened up, a better idea of the value can be guessed. Sometime nearly the whole boulder will be cut up in order to get a tiny piece of the highest quality. When I cut my slabs for the furniture and tile, I will come across very valuable sections of jade, which I always leave in. Therefore I have a couple tables that are actually worth more than others due to the sections of the table that are considered to be of jewelry grade. Its a fun motivator and a great story to know that within a table there is a very high demand gemstone sitting in its natural place where it was formed ages ago.