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