Monday, 31 March 2008

Jade, schmade

One piece of direct mail caught my eye from "Lotus on Water". There's a World renowned (sic, that's their capitalisation on world) Feng Shui Master called Yun Long Zi who holds Jadeite Workshops on how Jade can bring protection, luck and happiness.

It's only S$38 (£14), which for a personal reading from an acclaimed master would be a bargain indeed. The top tier Feng Shui masters in Hong Kong wouldn't unpack their astrolabe for less than US$100k if you wanted advice on a major building construction. And the bonus for your S$38 is that you get the opportunity to buy jade of the appropriate colour right there and then.

I've long been suspicious of jade because it can command very high prices, yet has no single definition let alone quality standards. Glass, plastic and a host of other minerals can pass for jade, plus dying, heat treatment, bleaching and resin injection techniques can transform junk into a valuable looking stone. Unless you carry a spectrometer, you can't tell and have to trust the vendor. People talk about the value of deep green Jade, of stones changing colour with long-time wear all of which create a mystique around a lump of rock.

In comparison, diamonds are easily assessed (refraction and 5Cs) and setting aside that gem prices are held artificially high by a cartel, are at least useful industrial materials. Gold is a chemical element with specific physical properties, is nice to look at and vital in manufactured goods particularly electronics. Ditto silver and platinum. You can believe what you like, I know what value is, and it's not astrology with matching jewelery, although at $38 per person it looks like I've missed the point again.