Exotic Gems, Volume 4   

How to Identify, Evaluate and Select Jade & Abalone Pearls          


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 Jade & Abalone Pearl Handbook 

Buying jade is a challenge because its value can vary significantly depending on its quality and treatment status. Moreover, fake jade is prevalent in the marketplace. Exotic Gems, Volume 4 describes with text and photos how to evaluate jade quality, as well as detect imitations and dyed jade. The guide also illustrates advanced detection techniques, and compares price factors and characteristics of jadeite and nephrite jade. Abalone pearls are also covered, with tips on how to identify and evaluate them. This is the fourth in a series of books that explores the history, properties, qualities and geographic sources of exotic gems. If you’re interested in jade or abalone pearls, Exotic Gems, Volume 4 can provide you with the in-depth information you’ll need to be a smart buyer and seller.


ISBN 978-0-929975-50-4    

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Paperback / 6" x 9"  / 136 pages / 338 color photos /

International Jewelry Publications / $19.95 



The latest in Renée Newman’s series of fascinating books on unusual gemstones, this volume tackles the difficult subject of jade. You might not think of jade as “exotic” but it is in fact two different stones, found all over the world, in almost every color, and is very commonly imitated, treated, enhanced, and faked. This book will help you pick your way through the jade minefield.

       Newman begins with a look at why jade was so highly valued by diverse cultures around the world, of which the Chinese were preeminent. She carefully explains the two true jades (nephrite and jadeite) as well as their less common confusing cousins: omphacite, kosmochlor, and maw-sit-sit. The long list of jade imitators is well covered and illustrated. Relevant gemological instruments are introduced and discussed. The average reader will have easy access to the basic ones, but don’t expect your local jeweler or appraiser to own the more advanced-- and therefore most useful-- instruments.
       While nephrite is thoroughly discussed and illustrated, clearly the book’s emphasis is on Burmese jadeite, the jade most commonly encountered in high-end jewelry. The quality factors for jadeite are well explained and illustrated. A major issue with jadeite is how to tell natural (Type A) color from polymer injected and dyed (B and C) imitators. It makes a huge difference in price, as well as durability, so Newman treats the subject extensively. While basic instruments can offer some help, the most reliable diagnostics require expensive lab instruments operated by trained technicians, a service you would have to hire out. Price factors are touched on here and there, but as jade is almost always sold by the piece rather than by weight, few generalities can be made.
       Jade sources and cultures are next described, with individual chapters for China, Burma, Guatemala, Canada (today’s top source of nephrite), and the several USA jade sources, including the fine black nephrite once found in Wyoming. One last chapter covers secondary locales: Russia (famous for nephrite cats-eyes), New Zealand (Maori jade), Taiwan, and more, even a discussion of Turkish “purple jadeite” (a very impure stone). The USA ban on importing Burmese jade (and rubies, too) is briefly discussed.
       An extra treat is a chapter on abalone pearls, a subject rarely written about. Newman covers what they are, where they are found, and how they are cultivated, as well as price factors and how to care for them. New Zealand Paua pearls are covered as well.
       As in Newman’s previous gemstone books the coverage is thorough and the writing clear. The numerous photographs are exceedingly helpful but in a book this size must necessarily be small and so can not have the resolution one would find in an “appreciation” type book.
       If you have any interest at all in jade as a gemstone Renée Newman’s latest book is a must-have.

Reviewed by Eric Hoffman, Far East Gallery, “Bulletin of the New York Mineralogical Club.”


This book is the fourth in a series covering exotic and unusual gems by Renee Newman that explores their history, lore, evaluation, geographic sources and identifying properties. I find these books very readable and highly recommend all of them.

       In this Volume 4, Jade & Abalone Pearls, a quick perusal of the table of contents shows 12 chapters (116 pages) that are devoted to jade. The final, 13th, chapter dedicates 13 pages to understanding abalone pearls.

       Well-written books on jade in the English language are rare. The advantages of this book are that it is inexpensive, understandable and extensively researched. Newman provides answers to most questions that a person with curiosity about gemstones might have. All of the chapters are well illustrated with numerous photographs depicting the corresponding content. Newman also uses tables effectively to illustrate various gemmological points.

       The first chapter, ‘Why Is Jade so Prized?’, briefly covers what makes jade special, with sections titled Durability, Carvability, Color Palette, Auditive Quality, Luster, Rarity, Status Symbol, Therapeutic Virtues, Historical Significance, Investment Appreciation Potential and Spiritual & Mystical Significance. Newman covers these attributes in just four pages, but the reader can find more detailed explanations of some of them in the following chapters. Chapter 2 answers the question ‘What Is Jade?’ and is followed by Chapter 3, ‘Jadeite or Nephrite Jade?’ The latter includes a useful table, ‘Characteristics of Jadeite Jade Versus Nephrite Jade’, which compares and contrasts their various properties (e.g. chemical formulas, RIs, reaction to heat, etc.) according to 19 categories.

       Chapters 4 and 5 cover imitations and treatments. Minerals and rocks that look like jade include more than a dozen varieties (e.g. chrysoprase, aventurine, etc.). Many treatments are performed on jade, including waxing, heating, coating and polymer impregnation, among others. These chapters provide a well-researched discussion of these aspects.

       Chapter 6 offers a discussion of price factors for jadeite and nephrite, including colour, clarity, cutting style/shape, cut quality, carat weight or stone size, transparency, treatment status and texture. Figure 6.1 shows a magnificent jadeite ring that sold for US$101,400 at Sotheby’s in 2004. (Reviewer’s note: Today it could be valued at perhaps more than 10 times this amount.) Newman mentions that the highest auction price for a piece of jadeite jewellery was attained in 2014 (US$27,440,000 for a necklace sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong); China was the driving force. Several other notable auction pieces are described and pictured in detail. In this chapter Newman includes the Mason-Kay ‘Colors of Jade’ chart (Figure 6.8), which is one of my personal favourites and was nice to see reproduced here.

       Chapters 7 through 12 cover various sources of jade—both nephrite and jadeite—including China, Myanmar (Burma), Guatemala, Canada, USA and other sources. All of these chapters provide interesting reading and anecdotes relating to these various jade localities.

       Chapter 13 on abalone pearls gives a brief history of various localities, especially concentrating on North America, including Baja California (Mexico), and California and Oregon (USA). Paˉua abalone mabe pearl cultivation is briefly mentioned. Identification, pricing and care are also discussed. Numerous photographs accompany the abalone pearl chapter.

       The book ends with a bibliography and an index.

 Reviewed by Bill Larson of Pala Gems, Journal of Gemmology


Exotic Gems, Volume 4 is the latest book in a series focusing on jadeite, with a bonus section on abalone pearls. This volume is geared for the consumer and the professional, but is accessible to jewelers, sales associates, gem dealers, collectors, gemology students, and appraisers. Its 136 pages are visually rich, with 338 color photos, diagrams, and tables. Author Renée Newman has packed the book with information about jadeite’s historical significance, countries of origin, and defining characteristics.
        Jadeite is inherently inscrutable. There are so many factors to be considered—color, luster, transparency, to name a few—along with confusion over its counterpart nephrite and the many jade imitations on the market. The two large charts in the "Imitation or Real Jade?" chapter help the reader to discern jadeite’s unique characteristics, such as refractive index reading, specific gravity, and hardness. The charts help to separate the simulants from jadeite and nephrite. The chapter ends with visual clues: closed-back settings, warm surface, and a low sales price are among the many hints.
        The "Treated or Untreated" chapter indicates the instruments in a gemologist's arsenal can be used to identify treatments, such as the Chelsea filter, and what the results express about the integrity of the material. Ms. Newman further delves into advanced detection tools are found in gemological laboratories, including various spectrometers, thereby making the laboratory reports more comprehensive.
        Jadeite is traditionally sold by the piece, rather than by carat weight, and the chapter on price factors discusses at length the three quality factors that have the most impact on jadeite values: transparency/translucency, treatment, and color saturation and tone. The next five chapters explore jade sources and its impact on world cultures such as China, Myanmar (Burma), Guatemala, Canada, and the United States. Minor sources of jadeite such as Russia, New Zealand, and Taiwan are covered briefly, with a review of the region’s history mining or cultural uses of jade. Color photos give great examples of jadeite from these areas.
        The last chapter concentrates on abalone pearls, an increasingly respected colorful pearl product. Sourcing, pricing factors, gemological characteristics, and general appreciation for the material are explained with Renee Newman's typical thoroughness.
        For the consumer, there are sections on historical significance, therapeutic powers and, of course, advice on caring for jadeite, nephrite, and abalone pearl. For the professional, The book helps professionals navigate the complexities of "exotic" jadeite through increased awareness of a commonly imitated, treated, enhanced, and faked gemstone.

Reviewed by Gail Levine, Executive Director of NAJA & AuctionMarketResource.com, Gems & Gemology 


The fourth volume of Renée Newman’s Exotic Gems’s Series covers jade and abalone pearls, — an unusual combination but one which gels together well in this book.  The first 12 chapters are dedicated to jade, covering identification, differentiation from imitations and simulants and the range of jade sources around the world. 

       Many think of jade to be the green stone that is commonly portrayed in non-gemmological texts, but it can occur in a whole spectrum of colours, including blue, lavender, yellow, orange brown, gray black, white and colorless. From the first page Renée immerses the reader in the challenging world of jade, a world not only of gemmology, but also of music, status, history, investment, spiritualism, mysticism and health. . . This sets the tone for the section on jade, showing that the material has a far greater cultural importance than as a mere rock.

       Renee also sets out the basic identifying features of jadeite and nephrite, and shows readers how to differentiate between them using both standard handheld equipment and laboratory-grade equipment. This section also includes unique images that gemmologist might not expect, including a single monocrystalline cabochon of pure, colourless jadeite and a nephrite cabochon displaying chatoyancy, both features that aren’t associated with the usual polycrystalline form of either species. The text goes on to consider the many and varied imitations of jade in all its of its forms, covering over a dozen of the more common imitations, including aventurine, chrysoprase and hydrogrossular garnet, accompanied by information on the relevant tests and identifications factors to enable the reader to differentiate jade from its imitators. Renée then discusses the various treatments that can be applied to jade. It is surprising how few treatments there are, given jade’s long history as a culturally significant and desirable stone.  Waxing, heating, coating, dyeing and impregnation are covered by Renée along with any tell-tale signs of treatment, followed by a “clues’ section to enable hobbyists to identify treated material.

       As with any book on identification and evaluation, the text also reviews the factors that affect price and value and includes a selection of images taken from auctions, which shows the high prices that some pieces can achieve, and reminding the reader how the skill and quality of craftsmen can have an important effect on value.  In addition to the usual colour an clarity factors.

       Renée then shows that contrary to popular belief, jade is not just an oriental stone — it can be found worldwide, too. She gives readers a a virtual tour of known and expected locations and sources, such as China, Taiwan and Burma, followed by some lesser known sources (and in some cases, unexpected ones!). Many people have heard of jade from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but now many would think of Russian, Turkish or even Swiss jade? A lot of these sources can be traced back to Neolithic times, as illustrated by a selection of nephrite jade knife blades uncovered in Korea. All of these sources have one thing in common, however, the fact that at each site a history of ornate carving and jewellery use exists.  Renée goes on to show the differences and similarities between these varied sources. 

       The latter chapters of the book are dedicated to the abalone pearl.  Formed within a species of marine snail, abalone pearls are seldom round, are more commonly found in baroque shapes  or mabe form. Abalone pearls occur in a range of colours, with blues and greens being the most common. Renée highlights how the beautiful gift the sea was popular with Apache, Maori and other native tribes. Its use in jewellery may be slightly limited due to its shape, and also due to the strictly controlled supply — for example, there’s currently an annual bag limit of 18 with a minimum of only nine bags from Sonoma and Marin regions on the Pacific coast.  Economically this translates as abalone pearls trading at up to US$2,000/ct.  A section on care and caution with regard to abalone pearls ensures that the reader is aware of anything that could potentially damage these true gems.

       With an extensive range of over a dozen book titles spanning all aspects of gems, and jewellery, this highly interesting edition lives up to the high standards expected of Renée’s work and is a great addition to every gemmologists book shelf. 

Reviewed by Andrew Fellows,Gems & Jewellery


Renee Newman’s Exotic Gems, Vol. 4 is the latest in the series of unusual gems covering jade and abalone pearls. In her books, Ms. Newman presents gemological information in an easy to understand manner that is suitable for consumers and hobbyists and this book is no exception. Exotic Gems is richly illustrated with numerous photographs to support the information provided. . .

      This volume explains jade both from a classical gemological definition and market point of view with an introduction to its lore and history. Undoubtedly, jade is a formidable subject to cover. The author deserves kudos for taking up his challenge and presenting, what is a complex subject, in terms that both consumers and dealers will appreciate. Some recent changes in terminology suggested by the Hong Kong laboratories are not without controversy in the west. This has divided the markets somewhat. "As important as jade is to Chinese culture, identification has become more complicated for the western market. Global gem market participants generally know how to overcome complications of jadeite definitions and value assessment, yet the consumer is mainly in the dark. This volume is a helpful tool that offers good insight to the various forms of jade, their sources and value factors. . .

       Renée Newman’s Exotic Gems, Vol 4 is a useful read for anyone interested in the subject of jade and abalone pearls. The book is intended fo the consumer, yet I would also recommend it to retail jewelers and appraisers as a tool for discussing the complex aspect of jade with their clients.

Reviewed by Cigdem Lule, The GemGuide


This is the fourth book in the Exotic series from Renee Newman. There are a total of 13 chapters. She tackles the rather difficult subject of Jade and Nephrite in 12 chapters and there is one chapter about Abalone Pearls.

     The chapters follow a logical order, the first 6 most useful starting with “Why is Jade so prized”, followed by “What is Jade”, “Jadeite or Nephrite”, “Imitation or Real Jade”, “Treated or Untreated” and “Jadeite & Nephrite Price Factors”. The remaining six chapters are devoted to world Jade sources, most producing nephrite.

     The book contains much information and while directed to all buyers of Jade, including the average consumer, it would be most useful to the gemologist and stone professional. The consolidation of information in one book is very useful. In particular, there are three tables, table 3.1 “Characteristics of Jadeite Jade versus Nephrite Jade found on page 21, table 4.1 “Jade RI, Hardness & Fracture Compared to Simulants” page 37 and table 4.2 “Jade Spectrum & other Characteristics compared to simulants page 38.

     The chapters about “Jadeite or Nephrite” and “imitation or Real Jade” are full of information and easy to understand. The chapter about “Treated or Untreated?” makes the reader aware of general treatments that are acceptable such as wax for A Jade to the heavily altered, buyer beware, B, C and B+C jades. Identification guidelines are offered in this chapter but these treatments are far beyond the ability of the average consumer to identify.

     In the chapter about “Jadeite and Nephrite Price Factors” there are numerous price examples for Jadeite. I would have liked to have seen more prices for Nephrite and I think this would be possible such as the three wedding rings made by Todd Reed in Fig 6.36 on page 70.

     The six chapters devoted to world sources of Jadeite and Nephrite are informative. Jadeite sources are limited to Myanmar (Burma) Guatemala and a small amount found in California. The remainder of the world produces Nephrite. I thought China is the largest source of Nephrite so found it interesting that British Columbia is now the largest supplier of Nephrite to China.

     The final chapter of the book is “Abalone Pearls”. I enjoyed this chapter about these pearls but am a bit puzzled why Abalone pearls are included in this particular book rather than include it in a book about pearls.

      I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in Jade. Renee has produced another good book at a very reasonable price and it would be a good addition to a gem library.

   Reviewed by Rob Aretz, GIA GG, The Jewelry Appraisor      


Informed and informative, "Exotic Gems: How to Identify, Evaluate & Select Jade & Abalone Pearls" is the perfect introduction for anyone interested in buying, selling, or working with jade or abalone pearls. This instructive guide provides jewelry design ideas and in-depth information, and is exceptionally well written in a succinct and thoroughly user-friendly style. Very highly recommended for personal, professions, community, and academic library collections, "Exotic Gems: How to Identify, Evaluate & Select Jade & Abalone Pearls" is an ideal reference for jewelers, sales associates, appraisers, gem collectors, gemology students, designers, gem dealers and consumers.

       Midwest Book Review   



   1.  Why is Jade so Prized?  9

       What Makes Jade Special? 9


   2. What is Jade?  13

          Is the Omphacite/Kosmochlor Jade Issue Relevant? 17

       Caring for Jade 17


   3.  Jadeite or Nephrite Jade?  18

          Jadeite and Nephrite Jade Localities 22

       Basic Gemological Tools for Identifying Jade 23

       Advanced Gem Instruments for Identifying Jade 25


   4. Imitation or Real Jade?  30

       Jade Imitations and Look-a-likes 30

       Clues Lay People Can Use to Help Detect Fake Jade 41


   5. Treated or Untreated?  43

       Jade Treatments 43

       Clues Lay People Can Use to Help Detect Treated Jade 47

       Advanced Tools for Detecting Jade Treatments 50


   6. Jadeite & Nephrite Price Factors  56

        Price Factors for Jadeite Jewelry 56

       Jadeite Price Factors Explained 57

            Transparency 57

            Color 59

            Clarity (Purity) 62

            Cutting Style & Shape 62

            Cut Quality (Craftsmanship) 63

            Carat Weight & Size 63

            Some Jade Jewelry Auction Sales by Bonhams 64

            Treatment Status 67

            Texture 67

        Nephrite Price Factors 67


   7.  Chinese Jade  71

       Jade from China 71

       Chinese Jade Trade 73


   8.  Burmese Jadeite  78

       A Brief History of Burmese Jadeite 84


   9. Guatemalan Jade  85


 10. Canadian Jade  91

       How a  Master Carver Carves Canadian Jade 95

       A Brief History of Canadian Jade 99


 11. USA Jade  100

       Alaska Jade 100

       California Jade 101

       Wyoming Jade 104

       How a Master Carver Carves Wyoming Black Jade 108

       A Word from a Master Carver about Wyoming Black Jade 109


 12. Jade from Other Sources  110

       Russian Jade 110

       New Zealand Jade 112

       Australian Jade 113

       South Korea Jade 114

       Swiss Jade 115

       Taiwanese Jade 115

       Turkish Jade 116


 13. Abalone Pearls  117

       How a Cornucopia Pearl Brought Overflowing Abundance 118

       North American Abalone Pearls 120

       New Zealand Paua Pearls 122

       Paua (Abalone) Mabe Pearl Cultivation 123

       Identifying Characteristics of Abalone Pearls 124

       Abalone Pearl Price Factors 127

       Caring for Abalone Pearls 130


       Bibliography  131


       Index  134


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