TOP 10 MOST EXPENSIVE JADE PIECES FROM CHINA

There’s a Chinese proverb "黄金有价,玉无价", that translates to “gold has a value; jade is invaluable,” which means the value of gold is measurable but the value of jade exceeds the stone itself. Although the mineral composition, size and purity largely affect the price of jade, the right purpose and design can drastically change the value of jade as well. Below are 10 of the top most expensive jade pieces by auction price.
1. 良渚文化玉琮王 The Liangzhu Jade Cong King 

Jade Cong is a type of jade ritual tool with half-beast half-human figure carving. The circular inner shape and square outer shape represents the sky (round) and earth (square). This jade cong is named the King of Jade Cong due to its superior quality and size. The significance of cong extends beyond a ritualistic tool and a symbol of power, before the existence of written language, an exchange of such item can bring stabilities among clans without using violence.

2. 西汉玉骑马羽人 The Western Hanyu Riding Featherman

A featherman (羽人 ) is a flying immortal in ancient Chinese mythology. They are different from other immortals as they have wings. At first glance, this jade sculpture resembles a man riding a horse, but in actuality, it is of a fairy riding a pegasus, traveling in space.

3. 翡翠观音 Qing Dynasty Guanyin Jadeite

When picking jade, it is important to choose a piece of stone in pristine condition, meaning there should be no cracks or impurities. The clarity and purity of this particular Guanyin Jadeite, especially around the face area, is what makes this piece so valuable. 

4. 极乐世界•识心 Elysium. Consciousness 

Made by a renowned contemporary sculptor 邱启敬 Qiu Qijing. Qiu revolutionized the Chinese jade world in the sense that he brought in modernity to Chinese jade sculpting tradition, combined with his stone carving techniques and Giacometti-like style.

5. 白玉羊首瓜棱式铜镶珐琅提梁壶 White Jade Goat Head Melon-Shaped Copper-Inlaid Enamel Beam Carrying Pot

This white jade carrying pot was first collected by American socialite, Millicent Rogers. In the first half of the 20th century, most collectors in the US collected academically researched Chinese ancient jade. However, Millicent’s jade collection was purely based on her own aesthetic and taste. She loved the color white and thus, white jade carvings and white glazed porcelain in the Qing Dynasty (including this very pot) accounted for the vast majority of her collection of Chinese utensils.

6. 白玉甪端 White Jade Luduan Incense Burner

Luduan is a legendary Chinese auspicious creature. It is similar to a unicorn but with the body of a lion and paws of a bear. It can travel 18,000 miles a day and master different languages. Luduan can detect truth and thus, are portrayed as guardians of enlightened rulers. The worship of Luduan was valued by the royal family in the Ming and Qing dynasties. This very pair of white jade luduan used to reside in the the inner palace during the Qianlong period.

7. 白玉鹤鹿同春笔筒 The White Jade Crane and Deer Tongchun Pen Holder 

The pen holder has been a favorite item amongst the literati since ancient times. The elegant furnishings of the study, including one’s pen holders, were often used to determine one’s status and to evaluate literary talents. Thus, various exquisite pen holders emerged during the Qianlong period. This particular instrument was carefully crafted and may be the largest jade pen holder among private collectors' auctions so far. It is quite rare. 

8. 御制碧玉雕“马远四皓图”山子 The Imperial Jasper Carving “Ma Yuan Sihao Picture” Shanzi

This piece is made out of jasper (碧玉) and is shaped like a triangle/mountain. Jasper is a semi-transparent spinach green Hetian jade. Although triangle/mountain jade (玉山子) is pretty prevalent in the Qing Dynasty, this particular piece is super rare due to its size. With a width of 80cm, this is one of the largest mountain-like jasper jade pieces (except for a few pieces in the Palace Museum).

9. 御制翡翠和阗玉搬指七件连御制诗剔红紫檀三鱼朵梅海水纹盖盒 The Seven Imperial Jade and Tan Jade 

Archer’s ring is a tool for riding and shooting that was traditionally worn by the king and flag brothers. Often made out of jade, they were used to symbolize one’s status. The size of the ring was determined by the user’s civil and military status. 

10. 双娇 白玉摆件 Wu Desheng’s Shuanjian White Jade Ornament 

This jade ornament is very representative of Wu Desheng’s work. His work on female subjects has a very distinct style i.e. oval face, willow eyebrows, red phoenix eyes, water drop nose, cherry mouth, round shoulders, plump breasts and fat buttocks. Interestingly, these are all characteristics of traditional Chinese beauty standards.