This kind of intense green jade is rare, extremely valuable and coveted today.
Jade carvings as works of art tend to be traditional and stereotypical in shape and subject, such as animal signs of the Chinese zodiac, but some artists are trying to create new jade art.
One of them is jade artist Wang Junyi, who is challenging conventional approaches to jade jewelry and art.
Born in Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Wang graduated from a jewelry art school at the age of 16. Four years later, he decided that his career would be jade.
“I have an emotional link with jade,” says 38-year-old Wang, recalling that his mother inherited a jade bracelet from her mother and treasured it. “She kept it in locked drawer and wouldn’t even let me see it, so jade remained mysterious in my heart.”
As a boy, Wang decided that one day he would be able to “play” freely with jade. “It seems that my hope has come true,” he says.
Wang says that compared with nephrite, jadeite is harder and more suitable to shape. He uses abasion tools.
“The natural brilliant colors are like a ready-made palette where my knife is the brush,” he says.
Wang is not satisfied being simply a craftsman.
“Sometimes I wonder why so many young Chinese would rather pay a lot of money to buy jewelry from Cartier, Tiffany or Bvlgari,” he says. “It’s time for jade to have a new look, catering for the urban aesthetic.”
Society is changing so fast that new shapes and subjects are needed; repeating ancient versions is no longer enough, he says.