Standard restores jadeite's popularity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 August, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong's first testing standard for jadeite jade, or fei cui, has boosted consumer confidence, which had been rocked by sales of dubious but expensive gemstones.

Launched by the Gemological Association of Hong Kong in August last year, the standard gives clear indications on jadeite's identification and verification, and has been welcomed by the local industry.

Louis Lo Yick-sun, chairman of the association, an alliance of industry professionals, said the lack of an authoritative testing standard and corresponding accreditation system led to the decline in the jadeite business a decade ago.

'Different jewellery shops had different criteria. Some even misled consumers by labelling chemically treated and resin-impregnated fei cui products as 'genuine jade with genuine colour',' Mr Lo said.

'The malpractices severely damaged Hong Kong's reputation as a global fei cui trade centre.'

In an effort to restore consumer confidence, the association, with help from the Hong Kong Productivity Council, set strict standards through 13 tests, measuring gemstones' shape, weight, dimensions, transparency and colour, as well as examining stones' internal texture.

Each gemstone will receive a certificate headed 'Fei Cui (Jadeite Jade) Certification Label Scheme'.

The association also joined forces with the Hong Kong Accreditation Service to launch the 'Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme', which adopted the ISO 17025 laboratory management system accepted worldwide.

'Customers will clearly know the true quality of the gemstone, as long as it is sold with our certificate.'

Over the past year, the testing standard and accreditation system have been accepted by six major gemstone laboratories locally, and 15 people have become the accredited gemologists under the new criteria.

Mr Lo said one of the laboratories had enjoyed a four-fold growth in business over the last 12 months.

Tommy Tsui, laboratory director of Luk Fook Group, said clients had more confidence in jadeite with the certificates.

'Currently, deals will be done more quickly without our salespersons talking too much,' he said.