Now, HERE’S something one doesn’t see every day...and that was the first thing I loved about this brooch. “Specializing in the unusual and unique” is my tout, and pieces like this one prove that I am serious.
Since there are no hallmarks on this save for a poorly stamped "14K," the snap conclusion is that it’s Chinese, based on the moss-in-snow jade body. The piece doesn’t look Chinese to me; it looks more Japanese, and modern, judging from the absence of wear signs or patina on the metal, but my pawn-shop cronies say Chinese.
But why invest such precious materials in a lowly grasshopper? The answer lies in Asian folklore.
Asians cherish grasshoppers and the people have a long tradition of enjoying the insects' beautiful calls, both in the wild and as pets. Culturally, the grasshopper is an Asian symbol of good fortune. Children catch grasshoppers to keep as pets, for luck. Moreover, the grasshopper is considered a messenger of ingenuity, resourcefulness, joy, and honor. She speaks to artists, inspiring dance, song, and music. The grasshopper’s coloring is also significant. Green grasshoppers signify fresh starts and new beginnings, as well as the concepts of youth, rejuvenation, sentimentality, nature, adventure, growth and health. (Ergo, evidently, the jade.) I imagine this brooch could have been worn as an obi pin on formal kimono, or perhaps as a good-luck talisman during auspicious business meetings.
Nicely sized at 2 & 1/8” (53.76mm) long from tip of antennae to tail hairs and 21mm (.83”) wide at its knees, it weighs in at 7.4 grams, most of that being gold.
The golden body may have been made by lost-wax casting, after which it was definitely hand-stippled and engraved on its head and legs. (Taken at 10X magnification, photos 3, 4, & 6 reveal the hand-tooling.)
The jadeite piece constituting the insect’s back appears to be older than the creature it adorns, since examination at magnification reveals specks of dirt in its grooves, as well as a tiny stained flaw near the tail section. (Photo 7.) Furthermore, the jade piece is affixed to the grasshopper not only with four sturdy prongs but also a pin near the neck, which suggests that in a prior incarnation the carving was a dangle of some sort, pierced at its top for hanging. I daresay it looks antique. Which proves that despite its modernity, the piece is vintage, because since 2007 China has banned the exportation of any artifact made before 1911, effectively driving sky-high the price of what few jadeites (especially carved pieces) were already floating on the world market.
The only reason I could afford to acquire this piece was because the seller undervalued it, or perhaps needed fast cash to pay a debt. I’m passing my savings on to you. If you find the price high, Google “Jadeite in 14K brooch” for comparisons.
Estate 14K Gold Grasshopper with Jadeite Body