Jadeite dishes are timeless with their beautiful green color in broad daylight, but did you know, some of them actually contain uranium and glow under a black light? Their spooky glow is perfect for Halloween, and are an interesting piece of American history.
Let’s take a closer look at why these dishes glow, why they were made that way, and if they’re safe to eat from.
Who Made Jadeite Dishes That Glow?
Only Jadeite dishes containing uranium will glow. So, if you’re looking to get your hands on Jadeite that glows under a black light, you’ll need to look for pieces made by either McKee or Jeannette.
By the time Anchor Hocking began production of their Jadeite, the uranium supplies were no longer available, so any Jadeite made by Anchor Hocking Fire-King does not glow under a black light.
Current Prices for Jadeite Dishes
How To Tell If Jadeite Glows
If you want to know whether you have a vintage piece of Jadeite that will glow in the dark, all you need to do is shine a black U/V light over it in a dark room. If it glows a vivid neon green, you have yourself the real deal!
As an added bonus, black U/V lights are also great for revealing hidden flaws and repairs. So, take a small, pocket-sized U/V flashlight with you when you’re out Jadeite hunting to test any potential purchases.
What Is A UV/Black Light And How Does It Work?
A black light gives off ultraviolet (UV) light and when it is shone on fluorescent substances, such as uranium-containing Jadeite, it causes the Jadeite to absorb the UV light and re-emit it at a different wavelength, making the light visible and the Jadeite dishes appear to glow.
Why Does Jadeite Glow?
Jadeite glows because it contains uranium. And although it is commonly thought radioactivity is what causes the glow, it’s actually the chemistry of uranium that’s responsible – not radioactivity.
If radioactivity itself was causing the glow, it wouldn’t be safe to be in your home.
Does All Glowing Glass Contain Uranium?
Most of the time, glass that glows under a black light contains uranium, but other elements such as manganese can also create the same effect.
Why Was Uranium Added to Glassware?
Prior to World War ll, glassmakers commonly added uranium as a glass colourant to not only Jadeite, but other dishware and decor pieces. Once the war began, the production of uranium-containing glassware was halted so the uranium supplies could be used for weaponry use.
If Jadeite Dishes Don’t Glow Are They Reproductions?
Only authentic Jeannette and McKee Jadeite glow under a black light. Fire-King dishes do not contain uranium, so neither authentic or reproduction dishes glow.
However, be aware of reproductions. There are known reproductions of Jeannette and McKee dishes out there, which should be labelled as such. But the easiest way to find out if that Jeannette or McKee dish you’re considering is authentic is to shine your U/V Blacklight flashlight on it. If you are buying online, ask the seller if they can send you a picture of the dish glowing to confirm.
Is Jadeite That Contains Uranium Safe To Use?
Jadeite dishes that contain uranium release trivial amounts of radiation, so they are considered safe to handle, eat and drink from. However, I would caution against storing acidic foods or liquids in dishes containing uranium. The acid in foods can cause the leaching of minerals.
Believe it or not, bananas and spinach contain as much, if not more radiation than your Jadeite does.
How Old Is Jadeite That Glows?
A general rule of thumb to follow is that Jadeite made during the 1930s and early 1940s by either Jeannette or McKee will contain uranium, and will therefore glow.
How Can You Tell If Jadeite Is Vintage?
There are a couple of ways to determine if your Jadeite is vintage, but first, let’s define vintage. I’ve often read that collectibles 20-99 years old are considered vintage, and collectibles 100 years and older are antiques.
Current Prices for Jadeite Dishes
There seems to be little disagreement about the age of antiques being 100+ years, but when it comes to nailing down the definition of vintage, there’s a little more disparity there.
Most antique dealers define vintage as being 40-50 years old, and anything produced in the past 20 years is referred to as retro.
To me, something that is 20 years old just isn’t old enough to be categorized as vintage, but that’s my personal bias.
So let’s go with these guidelines:
100+ years old = Antique
40-50 years old = Vintage
20-39 years old = Retro
By now you know, any Jadeite that glows under black light will be vintage, and would have most likely been manufactured by either Jeannette or McKee.
All Anchor Hocking Fire-King Jadeite is now old enough to be considered vintage except for any pieces that have 2000 stamped on them, as those were made in the year 2000.
There are several companies such as Mosser, Pioneer Woman and Tablecraft that manufacture, or have manufactured new Jadeite These companies tend to distribute some reproductions, but also a lot of fantasy pieces.
Read more: Where to Find Jadeite Dishes
Is Jadeite Worth More If It Glows In The Dark?
Jadeite isn’t necessarily worth more if it glows in the dark. The glow-in-the-dark aspect is an indication that such a piece is vintage, but the value of Jadeite depends more on its condition, rarity, and popularity.
There you have it! Your detailed guide to Jadeite dishes that glow under a black light. Does that make you crave adding one of these special pieces to your collection? Or have you used these spooky dishes as part of your Halloween decor? It’s the perfect time of year to start getting creative with your Halloween tablescapes. We can’t wait to show you ours!