Buying a jade bangle

5 Aug

Ever since my parents and sister visited China in 2008 and purchased my sister a jade bracelet, I have been getting asked when I am going to purchase one myself.  I’ve put it off – most of the jewelry I wear has been a gift, but my mom kept up the constant pressure and I eventually felt myself that it would be a worthwhile purchase.  Jade bangles traditionally signify protection and are linked to your physical health.

Earlier this year when I visited Tengchong with my colleagues we saw lots and lots of jade bangles, but I wasn’t quite ready to buy, plus making a major purchase when you’re with a tour group seemed complicated.  I asked lots of questions, trying to understand the different qualities of jade and my options, but didn’t buy anything.  This past weekend though on a beautiful Hong Kong Saturday, I finally took the plunge.

I spent the day with a colleague who had previously lived in Hong Kong and had family who had lived there as well.  We headed to the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong where there are lots of small shops, many of which focus on jewelry.  My colleague wasn’t an expert in jewelry, but she offered to help me bargain and translate – even though most shops have Mandarin speakers, having a Cantonese speaker on my side made me feel more comfortable.  Before we headed out we discussed my price range and how much we would try to bargain but I still wasn’t sure if it would be a successful trip or not.

We started by doing a little window shopping to see what the stores in that area were offering.  That alone was intimidating because the bracelets shown in the window tended to be over $100,000 HKD which is over $12,000 USD – definitely over my price range.    Eventually we went into a store and asked them if they had lower price bangles.  They gave us tea and then pulled out some in $10,000 to $20,000 HKD range ($1200 to $2400 USD) which still was too expensive.  At that point I was getting a little discouraged, but we kept trying different shops.

At the third or fourth they finally pulled out some bracelets in my range, but when they opened the boxes the bracelets weren’t the traditional green jade I was expecting and instead was a dull gray color.  It seemed like finding a green jade bracelet in my range was going to be tough – the green and the translucence increased as the price went up.  I think if I had been on my own I likely would have stopped, but as I had already involved my colleague, we kept going.

The final shop we went into also said they had some bracelets in my price range but they needed to bring them out of storage.  While we were waiting, we looking at the very expensive bracelets in the display case – including one that was $1.6 million HKD.  The bracelet was beautiful – a balanced green and purple color and I’m guessing incredibly rare but in the US you can buy a house for the equivalent. The wait was worth it though because they had one bracelet that I really liked and after bargaining it was right in the range I wanted to pay.  I think it suits my wrist well.

This store let me try on the bracelet, but they insisted on rubbing my hand and arm in baby oil before sliding it on.  It slid on pretty easily and they told me that if I wanted  I could look at a smaller size, but I decided that I didn’t want to.  They also told me that lots of people sleep in their bracelets because it is too much trouble to remove them each day.  That evening when I tried to take off the bracelet I understood why.  I initially tried to slide it off and wound up bruising my hand before I grabbed the soap and managed to slide it off.

Note the bruise on my hand!

The bracelet matches my top. This may be part of the reason why I chose this one.

A beautiful bracelet and a bruise.  I think the bracelet will be with me a lot longer.

Have you made any interesting purchases lately?

18 Responses to “Buying a jade bangle”

  1. David August 6, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    Congrats on your purchase! It’s ironic that the bracelet is supposed to protect your health and it ended up giving you a bruise!

    Michelle wanted to get some jade jewelry when we were in China and I was amazed at how expensive jade was! We ended up getting a necklace from Chow Sang Sang in Hong Kong. Like you, I couldn’t believe the prices of the items in the windows while we were shopping.

    Wear your new bracelet in good health!

    • gkm2011 August 6, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks – it was definitely an interesting process – but luckily I had set my budget and didn’t have to exceed it. I will wear the bracelet in good health – hope that you are both doing well too.

  2. eof737 August 6, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    What a great story… I guess the cheap ones we see here are probably fake! 🙂

    • gkm2011 August 6, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Yes, I would bet that – when I went to Tengchong they had “jade” bracelets for less than $10. I’m guessing they’re either plastic or some type of composite material in which jade may or may not be an ingredient. 🙂

      • David August 6, 2012 at 10:09 am #

        I heard that they are often glass as well.

  3. Madhu August 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I own a couple of plastic ones that I pretend are the real thing: -) Lovely post.

    • gkm2011 August 7, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks – sometimes those are the best – you don’t need to worry about them and add something special to an outfit.

  4. Naomi Baltuck August 19, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Fun post. I’m glad you found your bracelet. Thanks for the follow. I look forward to following your blog too.

    • gkm2011 August 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks! I’ve worn the bracelet several times now but getting it on and off still poses a bit of a challenge. Maybe I’ll have to buy some baby oil!

      • I'd Rather Be In Iceland August 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

        I’ve also seen the method of putting a plastic bag over your wrist, and rolling it on over that – might work for you?

      • gkm2011 August 20, 2012 at 7:57 am #

        I’ve not heard that one – I’ll have to try it the next day that I wear the bracelet. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Mona March 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    I bought a dark green (almost black) jade bracelet my first summer in China (from the Jade Factory in Beijing). I have since learned that the lighter the color, the more valuable the jade.

    During my second summer, I thought I’d buy one of the more valued bracelets and quickly realized that the price was absurdly out of my range.

    And the bruise? YES! Consequently, my lovely dark jade bracelet is safely tucked in its red box in my drawer. (Oh, I tried the plastic bag, which the lovely young ladies used at the Jade Factory. It doesn’t work for me, possibly because I used a grocery bag?)

    The Chinese women wear the jade on the left arm which leads to the heart, thus increasing the health (and love) benefits. Since I am lost without my watch on my left arm, the bangle goes on my right. In every way, I am an American.

    I applaud you for your tenacity in purchasing the perfect jade bangle.

    • gkm2011 March 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      I have found that the best way to put it on and off is to soap up my hands and pull it off in the sink! The plastic bag works ok, I did it with a ziplock bag and I’ve also heard baby oil can work too. Enjoy your bracelet! I think the green goes more with summer clothes so hopefully will pull mine out again soon.

      • fennario August 27, 2013 at 4:30 am #

        Try one of those thin plastic produce bags from the grocery store, those tend to work great.

      • gkm2011 August 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

        Thanks, I will try that next time!


  1. Buying a jade bangle | Home Far Away From Home - August 5, 2012

    […] since my parents and sister visited China in 2008 and purchased my sister a jade bracelet, I hasource This entry was posted in asia by poster. Bookmark the […]

  2. The fifth quarter update « 中国 Jumble - October 16, 2012

    […] popular – the post which received the most clicks that I wrote this month was my post on Buying a jade bangle in Hong Kong.  I guess there must be many others looking to do the same thing.  An update – the bruise […]

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