My wife had been looking forward to visiting the jade market, especially to spend some of my hard earned cash, so we hired a motorbike and it was our second stop after visiting the gold leaf pounders. The best jade in the world comes from Myanmar and usually passes through Mandalay. The market opens at 5 am and it is very busy as traders run around inspecting the boulders that are cut open. Trading section opens at 9 am and this is when the cut stones are sold as well as stones of other gems. Foreigners pay $1 to get into the market. The market is divided into different sections depending on the type of jade and the process, but outside the main market there are small workshops that cut the jade. This is the area where bangles, carvings and everything else is made. This was also the only area we visited as the dealings in the main market finishes by lunchtime. Even though the main market was more or less closed there were many cutters and polishers still working in long lines. The jade is sawed and then carved into the required shape. The smaller pieces of jade are polished by using a bamboo spindle, or placed in a bamboo dop stick for finer polishing. Many people spend all their lives at the jade market as they live there, spend time in cafes and pool halls which are also inside the market.
My wife bargained hard to purchase 3 small jade stones that she will use to make new ear-rings and pendant. I studied a little about the jade before coming here and looked as if it was genuine. However, after 20 minutes of bargaining a price was agreed upon, which was about one third of the initial price quoted to her. I reckon the seller did well because she gave my wife a jade ring ....FREE !!!
Jade is not measured in carats or grams but the size, carving quality and the color
This was a huge market, where dozens of vendors had their jade in various stages and grades of presentation were available for sale. The market is not frequently visited by tourists, and generally serves as a local source of the product. Myanmar jade is generally regarded as the best in the world, and I have no doubt that the dusty, dull goodies on the makeshift tables were all good samples of the country's wares.
As always, there were "mobile" vendors, with little gem boxes of ruby and emerald speciments, in the rough, cab and facet cut. They were persistent, but very polite, and no issue at all with failure to purchase their goodies.