When you step into fengshui and jade expert Lotus on Water's gallery along Sin Ming Road, you'd have thought you had accidentally wandered into a haute jeweller's showroom.
Ornate plush carpets, expensive antique furniture and million-dollar jade pendants fill the space, while a uniformed butler pours you a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne as a welcome greeting.
Much of this, it seems, has to do with fengshui and how one can attain prosperity simply by wearing the right jade. Sounds easy? According to Lotus on Water's executive director Kan Ying Loong, 31, there's a whole wealth of knowledge involving jade-buying.
He has been in this line for 19 years, having studied since his primary school days under famed fengshui master Yun Long Zi (fun fact: Master Yun was a former social studies teacher who taught Ying Loong at North View Primary School).
Lotus on Water, which also does consultation for customers looking to buy jade, counts Huang Biren among its clients. “She bought a big piece of Grade A jade here a long time ago, I think it was in the shape of a flower,” recalls Ying Loong.
Jade may seldom be thought of as an investment piece, but it has in fact fetched a higher price than diamonds on occasion. The most expensive piece of jade jewellery — a necklace with 27 jade beads — was auctioned off at a whopping US$27.4mil (S$36.5mil) in 2014, six times the price it fetched at another auction 20 years earlier. Now, does Granny’s jade bangle still seem so un-hip to you?
Oh, and jade can also be the elixir of youth, if you believe the beauty bloggers raving about the wonders of jade rollers online. Just look at the baby-faced Ying Loong, who appear at least five years younger than his real age.
Intrigued? Here, Ying Loong shares some tips for newbie jade buyers:
1. Buying jade isn’t that different from buying diamonds.
Remember these four points when you’re examining a jade piece. “Look out for its quality. How clear does it look? What colour is it? How is it carved? What’s its carat? It’s a bit like buying diamonds, actually. A good piece of jade has more [intricate] details and is finely carved. If you’re not sure, buy it from a reputable brand name instead of a gemstone market. It’s more legitimate ’cos a brand name seller has to protect its own reputation. Jade is actually a general term used to describe both jadeite and nephrite. The jade that people know that’s common in the market is jadeite. Nephrite has a milky colour and looks more like soap.”
2. Wearing fake jade could do more harm to your skin than your reputation.
“Some jade is soaked in industrial acid to remove the impurities so that it looks clearer. Market sellers won’t tell you that it’s bleached jade, of course. They call it ‘enhanced jade’. Once the [molecular] structure of the jade is broken with chemicals, it’s considered fake jade. Let’s not even talk about bad luck; it’s harmful to wear these jade pieces simply ’cos they’re coated in acid. If you wear it on your skin every day, it will harm you. I had a client who brought in the jade bangle that she had been wearing for a decade for authentication, and I could immediately tell that it was fake ’cos she had a mark on her arm that resembled a burn scar. But you can’t really feel [the acid burn] since it slowly accumulates over time.”
3. Wear second-hand jade at your own risk — even if it’s something you inherited.
“Crystals and jade are natural gemstones that contain qi, [the Chinese belief of one’s life force],” says Ying Loong. “Usually pre-owned jade is sold off either ’cos its previous owner had passed away or the seller needs money, though some retailers do allow their customers to trade in their old jade pieces for an upgrade. There’s lingering qi in those jade. Some people inherit heirloom jade, but we usually recommend that they store it. Everybody has their own lucky and unlucky colours when it comes to jade. If you wear a random piece of jade that’s the wrong colour for you, it’s not good.”
4. If your jade bangle shatters easily, it’s likely a fake.
“Fake jade breaks easily ’cos their molecular structure is already broken after being treated with industrial chemicals. But in fengshui, we believe that if you’ve a good piece of jade that suddenly breaks even without impact, it’s ‘blocking’ some kind of calamity for you. I once went to North Korea for sightseeing when I was studying Chinese at Peking University [in Beijing]. The night before the trip, the tail of my dragon jade pendant broke off for no apparent reason. But that trip went fine. Maybe it’s ’cos of my pendant (laughs).”
5. There’s a proper way to dispose of jade.
“If your jade breaks, don’t attempt to glue it back or wear it again. Traditionally, you dispose of such broken jade by wrapping the pieces in red cloth and throwing it into a river. But in Singapore, you’d be fined for littering! So I tell people to put the jade in a red packet or red plastic bag and throw it into a rubbish bin.”
6. Shape matters.
Ying Loong reckons: “Our customers can customise their jade in any way they want, but we recommend a design that is elegant and can bring prosperity. I don’t think a jade Hello Kitty pendant will do anything for them! The shape of jade matters. Every design has a different meaning. For example, peonies are for ladies who want power. The empress dowager Wu Zetian surrounded herself with peonies. Peaches are for longevity and good health. Bamboo can help in career progression and studies. We have Mother Mary and Ganesha jade pendants too. I cater to my customers’ requests (laughs).”
7. Jade face rollers work... sorta.
You’ve seen beauty bloggers using these doodads on their faces as part of their skincare regimen. What’s the deal? “Jade contains microelements that will be absorbed into your body when you wear it long enough, and you will start looking better and better. That’s why there’s a saying in fengshui: ‘You feed the jade, and the jade feeds you’. If your jade seller says he has been dealing with jade for a long time and he looks tired and haggard, you’d know his jade is not effective. I think jade rollers might work; I just don’t trust the jade that’s on [commercial] rollers! Empress Cixi popularised jade rollers, and she can definitely afford a good piece of jadeite. But if it costs $8 from Amazon, what you get is likely just a piece of stone.”
Lotus on Water is at #01-05, Sin Ming Plaza Tower 1, 2 Sin Ming Rd, S575583. Tel: 6456-1156. www.lotusonwater.com.
PHOTOS: AIK CHEN