Standards system a gem of an idea for jadeite

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

If you've ever bought expensive jadeite jade, or fei cui, and then wondered if it was really worth big bucks, it's time you turned to authenticated and certificated gemstones.

A testing and standards system introduced a year ago is enabling more people to avoid the dodgy jadeite commonly found on sale in Hong Kong.

The system, launched by the Gemological Association, gives clear indications on jadeite's identification and verification.

Association chairman Louis Lo Yick-sun 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 malpractice 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 Productivity Council, set strict standards through 13 tests, measuring gemstones' shape, weight, dimensions, transparency and colour, as well as examining internal texture.

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

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

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 past year.

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

Jadeite is supposed to ward off bad luck for those who wear it, and with the new standard, wearers can ward off bad jadeite.