Jade varies in colour from deep green to yellow, brown and white. Top quality jade is pure green and is very expensive. Most pieces have a yellow tinge, but no brown or grey should be in the finished piece. The jade sold in Hong Kong is mostly jadeite from Myanmar, which ranges from natural pieces to those impregnated with polymers or dyed to enhance its colour. The best jadeite is translucent. Opaque jadeite with cloudy patches typically has less value.
Jade Market and Jade Street
The Chinese character for jade is a combination of the words for beauty and purity, but there’s far more behind the Chinese obsession with this stone than looks. Jade has been long associated with long life and good health in Chinese culture, making it a prized material for good-luck charms. Few Hong Kong newborns will be left to start life without a jade bracelet from grandma, and people of all ages receive new amulets each year based on their zodiac signs and computations of the ancient Chinese almanac.
In Hong Kong, the jade business is most active at the Jade Market in Kowloon. While there’s been a lot of redevelopment in the area in recent years, some vestiges of its past have been saved, such as the colonial-era police station. Nearby, a three-tonne jade stone marks the strip of Canton Road known as Jade Street. However, if shopping takes your fancy over architecture and monuments, you won’t be disappointed with the quality and quantity of jade being sold by the more than 400 stalls here. The most common items to be poked through are jade accessories, including rings, bangles, pendants and earrings, but expect to come across some more unusual finds as well.
If you like the idea of having a bit more control over the luck in your life, this is the place to pick up an authentic Chinese good-luck charm. Based on the year you were born, and according to the Chinese almanac, one particular animal will be appropriate for you to wear and should be changed each year according to your changing fortune. The stall keepers will be able to help you choose the right one. If your needs are more cosmetic, most stall keepers will also happily make slight alterations or even tailor a piece to your own taste.
And remember to smile if your piece breaks, because this merely means some bad luck was headed your way and the amulet took a hit on your behalf. You’ll just have to replace it, which is one more good reason to come back to Hong Kong.
Did you know?
MTR Yau Ma Tei Station, Exit C. Walk along Nathan Road to Kansu Street, then continue along Kansu Street until you reach the Jade Market.