How to Appraise a Chinese Vase

By Mary Corbin ; Updated April 12, 2017

About 4,000 years ago, the Chinese combined texture, color and sculpture to produce the first form of porcelain. Artisans in Asia quickly began experimenting with white clay and extreme temperatures to create decorative and beautiful materials. These designs graced plates, bowls, teapots, statues and vases. These vases continue to intrigue modern-day collectors. If you want to join their ranks, you must research the proper data to appraise the vase for insurance or resell purposes.

Look on the bottom of your Chinese vase for an indication of the piece's age. Vases made in the 19th Century have an abrasive and rough feel rather than a smooth finish, unlike earlier pieces of quality china. The older the vase, the more it is worth.

Evaluate the glaze and enamel on your Chinese vase. Look for a harmonious blend of colors that have stood the test of time. Expect modern Chinese vases to have more orange-colored patterns than rose-colored textures. Check for inconsistencies in cobalt blue vases where there has been a paint reaction from being made in a kiln.

Study the artistic work on the vase. Typically, Chinese vases have intricate patterns or scenes that tell a story. The patterns should be clear and painted perfectly. If the piece can be described as exquisite, your appraisal price is likely to increase.

Ask dealers, scholars, and serious collectors of Chinese art for their opinions on the vase's style, origin and estimated value. Consult with experts at antiques shops, auction houses, and local appraisal firms. Provide photographs showing all angles and markings on the vase. Consider the experts' collective opinions when making your final appraisal of the vase.

Research books on Chinese antiquities to locate details about your vase. Look for information pertaining to location and manufacturing details and value. Visit your local library or visit Web sites for books on the topic.

Warning

Do not rely on markings alone to identify Chinese vases. There are many reproductions on the market. Compile several pieces of evidence to verify a vase's authenticity.

About the Author

Mary Corbin began her career writing for online and print media in Indianapolis. Since 2004, she has covered subjects such as home and family, technology and legal issues. Working in the broadcast industry, Corbin created articles for marketing, public relations and business matters. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.