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Our group is now ready for our own examination. The box is brought back out, and using the methods that we were taught, within a few minutes, we came to a collective consensus as to which three of the nine bangles are of genuinely high quality. We don't get them all correct, but - as the Meatloaf song goes - two out of three ain't bad.

But before our newfound semi-expertise can go to our heads long enough to make us consider any serious purchasing, Roxanne informs us what the asking price might be for the genuine article.

"This one, for example", she holds one of the dark green bracelets we had correctly identified as real, "is worth around 30,000."

"That's a lot," I say. "Most casual tourists aren't going to spend 30,000 NT [New Taiwan dollar] on a keepsake."

"NT? No. I mean American dollars. A real jade bracelet such as this can cost that much, or even more," Roxanne said.

Duly schooled in the value, complexity and precious nature of this very precious stone, we thank our teacher and exit the museum to shop for what we now know will be mere baubles at the weekend Jade Market.

Joshua Samuel Brown is one of the authors of Lonely Planet's latest Taiwan guide.

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© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘A traveller’s guide to buying jade’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.



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