It’s like something from a particularly bad dream. At one moment, you’re trying on a beautiful, expensive bracelet – but then, as you go to take it off, disaster strikes. You see the precious piece of jewelry drop to the hard floor – perhaps in slow motion – and it smashes. Your stomach drops as the horror and guilt starts to take over; you dread the fact that there is no way that you can afford to replace the valuable item.
However, this nightmare scenario was one Chinese tourist’s bitter reality in June 2017. The woman from the Jiangxi province in eastern China was visiting Ruili, a city in the Yunnan province close to the border with Myanmar. She was just doing what most tourists do: wandering around the local shops and stalls.
Undoubtedly, the tourist never saw her sight-seeing day going as badly wrong as it did. So as she stopped by one particular stall in a covered street market, she proceeded to admire all of the beautiful jewelry on offer there. She was especially mesmerized by the colorful display of rare jade bracelets, gems typical of the region.
According to a BBC article from June 2017, “Jade is a generic term for two different gemstones, nephrite and jadeite.” Indeed, jade comes in a wide variety of colors, including the traditional green, and is considered a very precious element in various cultures. It has a particularly important significance for Chinese people, though, as it symbolizes “good health” and “long life.”
However, what happened that day did nothing to prolong the tourist’s life, and it certainly had a disastrous affect on her short-term health. So where were we? Yes, the jewelry outlet in Ruili had a large selection of green jade bangles on show. In fact, the tourist was so taken with one stunning piece shaped into a bracelet that she tried it on.
She slipped the bangle onto her wrist and admired it – before the stall keeper told her something completely mind boggling. You see, while the tourist was still wearing the bracelet, the jade merchant informed her of how much the piece of jewelry was worth. And the tourist just could not believe the high figure.
What was the figure? Well, she was told the jade bracelet she was wearing on her arm was worth a whopping $44,000. At that point, she did what most people would have done in the same situation: she started to remove it. Indeed, it seemed as if she was shocked at the price and terrified at the prospect of something happening to the expensive jewelry while it was on her person.
But as she was taking the bracelet off, possibly the worst thing imaginable happened to the unfortunate tourist. Yes, it all went terribly wrong – and she ended up dropping the precious jade bangle. Everyone around her probably held their breath as it fell down towards the tiled floor of the market.
In what must have been a stomach-churning split-second or two, the tourist watched helplessly as the precious item made its descent. She no doubt hoped that it would be unharmed in the accident. Unfortunately for her, this was far from the case. The jade bangle was badly damaged – and it wasn’t just a scratch, either. In fact, the whole thing had broken in two.
Upon seeing what she had done, the tourist began to panic. BBC News reported that the tourist “turned pale” and “began sweating” as the severity of the situation dawned on her. People around the woman at the stall attempted to calm her down, but the shock of it all proved too much for her.
The woman worked herself up into such a state, in fact, that soon everything went black. Yes, she fainted away right there at the stall, prompting other customers and members of her sight-seeing party to try to catch her fall.
First, the bystanders propped the stricken tourist up in a chair, but soon they moved her to the floor where they laid the poor woman down flat. A medical team was called to tend to the unresponsive tourist, and according to the Chinese People’s Daily newspaper, eventually she was brought round by having the skin under her nose pinched.
Perhaps feeling a little sorry for the overwhelmed woman in a state of shock, staff at the jewelry outlet told the tourist that she didn’t have to pay the full $44,000 asking price to compensate them for the broken bangle. Instead, the stall owner offered her a lessened cost of $25,000 for the item.
But this reduced price was still too rich for the tourist, who claimed that she would only be able to give the merchant $1,500 in damages. Some reports suggest that the police got involved in the dispute, but even they were unable to negotiate a deal between the two parties.
Witnesses at the scene claimed that the tourist and some of her family members eventually offered the stall keeper 70,000 yuan – or $10,000 – to cover the cost of the broken luxury bracelet. But the seller would not accept such a low amount, adamant that the family’s low offer would not cover the wholesale price of the item.
The BBC reported that if an agreement could not be made between the two parties, there was the distinct possibility of the case going to court to be settled legally. But other reports suggest that the tourist did eventually come to a compromise with the jade merchant after the bangle was valued by a jewelry specialist.
Indeed, in June 2017 the Daily Mail reported that an independent expert had put the price of the precious bracelet at 180,000 yuan – or $27,000 – and that the tourist’s family had agreed to pay that sum. This was, however, despite conflicting reports that an agreement between the two parties was never reached.
Unsurprisingly, then, the story of the broken jade bracelet has gone viral. But not everyone has taken it at face value. Certainly, there has been a lot of speculation online about the legitimacy of the jewelry in question. This has come particularly from Daily Mail readers, who think the whole thing may have been a scam.
One cynical reader in particular commented, “What a load of old cobblers! £34,000 ($44,000)? The stall must be worth £1 million at least then – on a street market? Yeah right!” While another said, “A real jade bracelet wouldn’t break like that. It’s a con.”
Another reader said, “Nobody would be selling a jade of that value in a street market, without security or barriers. Look how easy it would be to rob them!” Whether there is truth in the stall holder’s claims or not, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Simply put, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.