Jadeite, the Real Deal

Today I stopped into a local antique store. It’s not a store that I normally go into, but it was close by to another stop that I made, so I thought I’d take a look. Back when I used to sell antiques, I inquired in this particular store (it’s a chain) about renting a space. I decided against this one because they ask their dealers to have 40% new or handmade merchandise in their booths. When I go antiquing, I only want to look for antiques, not things that I could find at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s, so this wasn’t a good fit for me to sell my antiques in. (We’ve talked about this over on my Instagram before. And it was split 50/50 for those who wanted only antique merchandise and those of you who wanted new stuff, too.)

Since I only had a few minutes, I went through the store very quickly looking for jadeite to add to my collection. There were 3 dealers that had “jadeite” items, but none of them were authentic, vintage jadeite. It was a little frustrating for me as someone seriously looking because none of the tags were marked “reproduction”, and they were all priced very high, as though they were truly vintage pieces. I guess that’s a conflict that someone can run into shopping at an antique store that asks their dealers to also carry new merchandise.

photo via @jesselauzon on Instagram

If you think jadeite is pretty, and you’re interested in collecting it, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Jadeite was originally manufactured by 3 main companies: McKee, Jeannette, and Anchor Hocking/Fire King. Jadeite has a distinct, opaque green glass color, which can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and decade.

photo via @thevettelfarm on Instagram

Jadeite items were often promotional pieces found in bags of flour or laundry detergent in the 1930s and 40s. Jadeite was not only pretty, but it was also utilitarian. Before World War II, jadeite actually contained uranium, so older pieces glow under black light. The earliest jadeite was made in the Victoria era.

Martha Stewart popularized jadeite while using it on her TV shows and in her magazine. Anchor Hocking released a line of jadeite during this popularity called Fire King 2000. Items marked with this backstamp are newer, and they are not the mid-century vintage pieces that are so collectible. (They will be “vintage” in a few years. Can you believe 2000 was almost 20 years ago?!)

photo via @belleantiquarian on Instagram

Recently, the color jadeite has been used by Target in the Magnolia “Modern Farmhouse” collection. Walmart also has jadeite colored items in their Pioneer Woman collection. Even Cracker Barrel, World Market, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond sell jadeite colored items. Last week I saw a jadeite looking butter dish at TJ Maxx. There is nothing wrong with adding newer jadeite pieces to your collection if you are just collecting the color. I have new cake stands and salt and pepper shakers. But you don’t want to be in a store under the impression that you’re buying an old piece, when it’s actually new.

Since this color of glass is so easy to reproduce, I recommend doing a little internet research to learn the hallmarks of the companies that produced jadeite. Learn the products that they produced. Not all vintage pieces have a hallmark on them. If you are just beginning, try to stick to pieces you know to be real. After a while, you’ll be able to tell immediately if something is authentic, vintage jadeite or if it’s new.

photo via @vintagepickerchick on Instagram

I recommend reading a few articles on jadeite. HERE is a great one. I also recommend following a few accounts on Instagram of people who collect jadeite. You will start to recognize authentic pieces “out in the wild”, and you will be able to confidently purchase them.

Instagram accounts to follow if you’re interested in jadeite:

  • @thevettelfarm
  • @jadeitejunkie
  • @jadeitegal
  • @jadeiteaholic_ttc
  • @vintagepickerchick
  • @jesselauzon
photo via @belleantiquarian on Instagram

I’m always looking for jadeite, delphite, azureite, and turquoise Fire King. Be sure to let me know if you find some good pieces! Good luck!

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