The Jade Market in Mandalay

We were expecting the jade market in Mandalay to be endless rows of shops selling jade trinkets and jewelry.

Instead we found a flourishing wholesale jade market, with people everywhere cutting stones, polishing stones, examining stones, buying stones, selling stones and counting stacks of money…

Some of the stone cutters had the job of cutting the stones in half and then polishing the cut edges to reveal the interior. The exterior of the rock is often pretty nondescript. Looking at the exterior of the rock below, it’s hard to tell why it’s worth $4000 US.
The Exterior of a $4000 Jade Rock This is the same rock showing the polished and cut edges. How the light passes through the jade demonstrates the quality of the jade, so flashlights are used all the time and at all stages of the process. This is that same boring $4000 rock above, so I guess this is what quality looks like!
Jade rock with light shone through it to demonstrate the quality
The buyer of the jade below pointed out a few fissures on the exterior that indicated there might be some interesting colour patterns in the interior. But until it was cut in half, he didn’t know whether the stone he had just purchased was worth anything or not. The ‘apple’ green colour makes this stone very valuable.
they buy the stones without knowing exactly what will be inside, The market contains tons of stone cutters who cut and polish the stones to reveal the interiorHis next step was to have his stones cut into oddly-shaped pieces that took best advantage of the interior colouring.
imageIn the final stages the stones were ground down into cabochons.imageHere, two cabochons were being inspected for quality.imageThe final stones for sale.
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