Hundreds of people armed with shovels and buckets rushed to find buried jade in the streets of Tengchong City, bordering Myanmar, leading local authorities to urge for calm to prevent riots, Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The 'jade fever' began earlier this week when during a road construction, some pieces of jade - semi precious stones of great value in Chinese culture - were found.
After the incident, hundreds of residents of all ages gathered at the construction site and started digging with tools and by hand in search of jade, a stone which in recent years has come to be worth $3,000 per ounce, doubling the average price of gold in some time.
"Some did dig out the jade and even started setting up stalls to sell the pieces nearby", a local jewelry seller named Jian told Xinhua.
Local authorities said that such types of accidental findings in Tengchong - center of the jade trade with Myanmar for more than 600 years - is a frequent occurrence during construction works.
Following the incident, the local government took to its blog urging people not to spread rumors regarding jade findings to avoid more people rushing to the site of the alleged buried treasures.
It is also reported that many of the stones found are pieces discarded by vendors and artisans throughout the history of the city.
In China, Jade is as important as gold or diamond in western countries, since ancient dynasties used it as an ornament in jewelry, clothing and tombs of nobles or royalty and it is still a favorite gift among wealthy families.