I’ve made my share of bad Jadeite purchases. When I began collecting it, I really had no clue what to look for when I was buying. I would get so excited to actually find a piece of it, I didn’t do a thorough check to make sure it was in good shape. It was pretty, I bought it, and then I’d sadly find out later that it had a chip, a flaw or (dun dun dun) a crack. As I have now learned, if you are looking into buying a piece of Jadeite or Jade-ite glassware, it is always important to check the quality before you make your purchase. Any damage and/or wear can play a major part in the value and collectablity of the item, not to mention how it looks on your shelf. Vintage Jadeite was originally meant to be an inexpensive, every day glassware, so the quality can really vary between pieces. Also, because it is an older style glassware, there could be signs of wear from use over time. Making sure to avoid certain types of damage, wear or flaws will always give you more bang for your buck and make sure you’re investing in a quality piece of glass and not some sad buyers remorse. Today I’m sharing the 6 things to avoid when buying jadeite glass, complete with some examples from my own collection.
The 6 Things to Avoid When Buying Jadeite Glass
Cracks are the worst. I never buy anything with a hairline crack. Any cracks can lead to future breakage, unless you are using for display purposes only. Especially avoid them if found on mug or pitcher handles as the stress on these areas can cause the handle to break off. A crack really kills the value on a piece and should be avoided at all costs.
2. Nicks and chips
This is another important thing to look out for on your glassware. When inspecting glassware in person, I always both visually inspect the pieces for chips and the I also run my fingers and fingernail around all of the edges. Generally if there is an issue, you will feel the rough surface and/or your fingernail will catch on any chips. The edges of the glassware are the most likely places to have any issues. Sometimes it’s hard to see these issues visually, so running your thumbnail over is the best way to catch them.
Below is an example of a pretty significant chip found on the rim of this scalloped flower pot.
3. Flea bites
Don’t be fooled, flea bites are really just a fancy work for tiny chips. It should supposedly be something as small as the bite of a flea. If they are truly tiny, they may go undetected. Some online sellers, however, may call any chip a flea bite. Flea bites will bring the value down some on your item, but not as much as a more visible chip. It’s often hard to find some Jadeite glassware that doesn’t have some type of flea bite on the edge. I commonly find them on canister lips and lids, because this is the area that got the most use. Avoid them when you can.
4. Scratches and Utensil Marks
With lots of use over the years, Jadeite glass can acquire scratches or utensil marks. You’ll see this more commonly on the inside of mixing bowls or on the top surface of dining plates. Often with this, you may also find that the sheen/shine of the glassware becomes dulled. When purchasing Jadeite, always look for items with high-shine and avoid pieces with a dull, scuffed or scratched surface.
5. Staining or Permanent Marks
Sometimes you may come across a piece of glass that has stained over time. This may look like yellowing on the surface that will not come off. This will bring the overall value down. Avoid anything that has a stain that can’t be removed, because you definitely don’t want a big stain on display.
6. Worn Printing
Many items like salt and pepper shakers, or canisters have printed words on the glass to indicate what’s inside. Often, with age, the printing will be worn off or faded. If the printing isn’t clear, this can lower the value of the Jadeite item. Look for pieces with clear, dark lettering when possible.
What to watch out for
As I mentioned, Jadeite was made to be a cheap glassware. This means it didn’t go through a ton of quality checks before it made it on to the market. With that, comes a handful of common manufacturing flaws caused by the mold or firing process. Though they may not always affect value, some manufacturing flaws do play a part in the aesthetic appeal of a piece of glass. When inspecting glassware you will also want to note any issues that might have happened in the making of the glassware. This flaws may include:
As you are running your fingers over the edges of the glassware you may feel some roughness, but it is not always from a chip. Often the roughness may just be caused by the original mold. Inspect carefully to distinguish the difference. As long as it’s minor, this shouldn’t effect value.
Sometimes a piece will have lines that are created during the molding process, which may get confused as cracks. The mold lines shouldn’t effect the durability or the value.
You can often find these on pieces, but they aren’t deal breakers. Generally they are also just flaws in the glassware when they were made and don’t effect the quality or durability. However, the white marks may effect the visual aesthetic, especially if you plan to use these for display. Depending on where they are, the size and amount of them, they could bring the price down slightly.
Straw Marks & Ripples
These are irregularities that appear on the surface of the item during the cooling process and are a pretty common occurance. They generally look like irregular wavy lines in the glass. They should not effect the condition or value.
You may be like, what? The glassware won’t actually be glowing. Some vintage Jadeite glass was made using uranium, which will cause the glass to glow under a black light. The practice of adding Uranium to the mixture ended in the 1940’s, so if you’re a serious collector you may want to have your black light flash light on hand to see if you’ve got a true original.
With this list of 6 things to avoid when buying Jadeite glass, you’ll now know how to spot and to avoid damage, wear and flaws to make the most informed purchases. You’re next purchase is sure to be a great one! Remember, always check before you buy!
Anything I missed? I’d love to hear it or any of your own Jadeite collecting stories.