Re: Artificial Coloring
Re: Why are beads being marketed as "jade"? -- LUANN UDELL Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
10/05/2022, 13:25:49

Hello Luann,

I have composed multiple expositions here and elsewhere online, about the artificial coloring of stone beads—that divide into two very different processes. One is dying, in which dyes are used. The other is described as "beizen"—in which mineral-rich liquids are used. Dyed stone are temporarily colored. The colors of beizen stones are permanent—so there is a profound difference. Nevertheless, ill-informed people frequently refer to beizen products as being "dyed."

I have been countering this mistaken idea for forty years. Here is a dialogue from 2009 in which I discuss these processes:

Yes indeed, I learned about these issues before 1980, and I have been vocal about them ever since then.

I note that Frank did not respond to your question, but rather has provided a "dyed stone" response, that is factually incorrect.

As near as I have been able to determine, the Chinese adapted or adopted the German methods of coloring microcrystalline quartz (agate and chalcedony) by 1997—which is when I saw the first artificial carnelian beads in Taiwan. They had previously learned to make brown or black agate via caramelization and carbonization by 1992—since this was indispensable for making reproduction zi beads—and, in the larger sense, is part of the beizen oeuvre. (Because it is artificial-coloring that does not rely on "dyes.")

It has not been determined, as far as I know, whether magnesite is dyed or beizen. But counter to Frank's suggestion, imitation-turquoise magnesite beads are routinely colored-in-the-mass. Meaning the color runs through the entire stone, and is not superficial. I have supposed magnesite was selected, in-part, because it accepts dying fairly easily (among other reasons for making fake turquoise). But, in this instance, we also have the issue that, now, many Chinese products are made from reconstructed stones—and these MIGHT be colored (somehow) BEFORE reconstruction. So the issue of penetration is an unrevealed aspect of this complicated area of beadmaking.

I have described beizen penetration of agate multiple times. I won't repeat it here. Read my previous expositions!


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