Bottom falls out of jade market

The "hustle is gone" from the Jade and Jewellery Mall in China's south western city of Kunming, responsible for some 70% cent of the country's jade trade.

China Daily reports sales volumes for jade traders have dropped as much as 30% this year over 2011 while so far in 2012 prices of low- and mid-grade jade jewellery and ornaments have slumped 20%–30%.

Top of the line products have not seen the same kind of drop in value, however, and according to the state-owned website jade occupies a special place in Chinese culture:

Many buyers and collectors believe that jade is unique, according to the Chinese saying "gold can have a price but not jade, collect jade instead of gold".

Jade jewellery and ornaments enjoyed a fivefold increase in prices between 2005 and 2011.

The paper quotes Li Lianju, a provincial land and resources director, as saying prices could drop another 10% in the medium term.

While the jade market in China is a fraction of its overall jewellery trade, the collapse in the value of the stone could indicate tough times for other markets like diamonds and precious metals.

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Image of jade dragon from Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 9 AD) via Creative Commons