Raw jade sales enter the livestreaming era

The market in Ruili, Southwest China’s Yunnan province, is the first and only place nationwide that offers online auctions selling and trading raw jade through livestreaming.

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Raw jade, which is mined in mountainous areas, usually comes in the form of boulders that look like any other rocks.

Some jade is processed and made into accessories, while some is set aside and sold directly to collectors as investment pieces.

Raw jade’s sales process is different to other jewelry.

By giving the surface a little scrape – known in the trade as "opening the window" – both sellers and buyers assess the value of the stone before agreeing on a price.

Known as dushi, which means gambling on rocks, trading jade is considered perhaps the riskiest business in the jewelry industry – it’s also one of the most lucrative.

A new lexicon has emerged to describe the uncertainty and difficulty of dushi. According to one saying, with one scrape you are a billionaire, and with another you are a beggar.

There is still no technology capable of penetrating the stone, known as "the skin", to locate the jade and to judge its quality without breaking the stone apart.

In recent years a growing number of amateur collectors, lured by the prospect of instant riches, have flocked to the huge jade market in Ruili to try their luck.

The Ruili government estimated that by the end of 2017 there were more than 20,000 livestream broadcasters from across the country based in the city, which has a population of about 140,000.

To better guarantee and regulate the market, an agreement was reached in December between regional government, the jade association and Taobao to open the Yangyanghao Taobao raw jade trade market in Ruili.

To ensure quality, an initial 415 livestream broadcasters, accounting for 10 percent of those in the industry, were picked, trained and licensed before being allowed enter the market.

Dong Jiajun contributed to this story.

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