A collection so rare that it’s only available to view by invitation only, Asprey’s newly launched Imperial jadeite collection — including 60 heritage jewelry pieces and object d’art collectibles — highlights the House’s ambitious plans to lead the top-tier luxury jadeite market.
Often referred to as the “stone of heaven”, jadeite carries esteemed cultural significance in many Asian countries, particularly China. The revered gemstone, also said to bring the wearer good fortune, calmness, and holistic health thanks to its healing powers, is seen as a tasteful and at times understated symbol of status and wealth throughout the history of China. But don’t let its modesty in appearance fool you — Chinese often say that good jadeite can be “as invaluable as something worth several cities” — quality jadeite could be worth millions of dollars, if not more.
With a history of collecting jadeite dating back to a century ago and a refreshed aim to become a dominant force in the jadeite market, Asprey has in the past few years worked closely with collectors and dealers around the world in curating a range that is not just of the highest quality, but also with significant historical and artistic value entrenched.
Valuation and certification methods of jadeite have always been problematic and inconsistent in the past. From the surface, jadeite doesn’t possess the shine or absolute transparency of many precious gems, thus its value could always be subject to debate based upon individual opinions. Priding itself as a true innovator and leader, Asprey have developed their proprietary technology to improve certification standards in jadeite, in partnership with Oxford University.
Turning to the Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences — a genius move because, who can best understand a piece of gemstone than the experts in geology? — enables the House to provide mineralogical lab reports on jadeite items.
Asprey, in its process of becoming the leading House on jadeite, sets itself the goal to establish a standardised and uniform process to provide, as well as further improve, transparency on the quality of the jadeite items. Thanks to this ongoing partnership, Asprey will be the first luxury house to develop a proprietary technology to laser etch a certification code in the jadeite, below the surface, and build a database of historical pieces that is updated and current, ultimately constructing a GIA-like system for jadeite and improving the worldwide certification of the precious stone.
The pieces from the newly unveiled collection, comprised of bracelets, bangles, pendants, rings, belts, sculptures, a miniature teapot and even an abacus, are exquisite in terms of color, clarity and texture. The signature elegant green hue of Imperial jadeite has seen a steady rise in popularity in the Western World, with its beauty unique to antique and heirlooms as well as historic heritage particularly well received by collectors.
With many archived inspirations and styles dating back to the Art Deco era, the House also likes to work with more contemporary and functional designs. One example being the open bangle bracelets, which are rarely found in this material. “We feel it’s important to reflect the evolution of taste and habits of the client: they now also want to wear jadeite as fashion pieces that they take off, rather than permanently keep on.” A spokesperson of Asprey tells me. “When looking at a rough, which we also have for sale, we look at what best piece we can achieve from this rough rather than the size of the yield. We favor quality over quantity.”
I was informed that the texture and transparency of the mineral are two key criteria to define high quality jadeite. The pieces from the new collection have an almost glass-like translucency and barely have any grains on the surface, displaying an exceptional glassy polish, making them highly collectible. “Color is also important, the distinctive and enigmatic inner glow is a signature trait of Imperial jadeite. Finally, clarity- or minimum presence of flaws in the texture of the piece is another determining factor of high quality Imperial jadeite.”
Often the size, color, and depth of the piece can affect transparency, with larger pieces lacking the desired level of transparency in some cases. Having studied Asprey’s collection in close proximity with a specialised torch light, I see why they are cared for, and priced, a certain way — the pieces are near transparent, indicating rarity and top-tier quality.
With prices starting at £130k going up to £18,000,000, all of Asprey’s jadeite pieces will be accompanied by certificates of purity, in collaboration with Oxford University. For more information, visit www.asprey.com.
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