Why buy high end gaiwan? For me the way the thin porcelain feels elegant in the hand, the high pitched ping as the lid makes contact with the body, due to the thin walls its very ease to create a sharp small opening between the lid and the vessel walls which means I can even brew fuka in the gaiwan if I really want. In comparison cheap gaiwans sound dull & feel clumsy to me. But its all about where your money goes.....
When I talk about high end gaiwans I'm talking about the gaiwan as a piece of brewing hardware. The artwork doesn't make it higher end to me personally.....although I do like a nice simple design if it means access to a decent gaiwan.
So its usually about the crystal like ping of the porcelain and thinness which makes handling a dream. Its hard to get to that high end without there being artwork though. And the artwork if done well can really drive the price up.
Just to give you an example I bought 3-4 shapes of the gaiwans bagua7 posted. I asked Jerry to get the studio to do me a few plain gaiwans. And they cost me roughly $22-$25 each. Now I don't know the price of the painted ones that B7 posted but I'd imagine around $100+ therefor the price of gaiwans that high is very much about the cost of the artwork.
The tea gallery gaiwans were very nice. They were decently priced and offered a similar quality. I'm guessing they must of been made in Taiwan as they had that more creamy white that Taiwan porcelain often seems to have. where as the JDZ top stuff usually is brilliant pure white.
The really expensive gaiwans tend to be over 150ml (usually closer to 200ml) and have a saucer with no slot for the gaiwan to sit in. I presume to show off the artwork.
So as you'll usually have to buy one with a bit of art work on, going for a simple design means the money you're spending is less in favour of the artwork.
The current price if you want a taste of a nice gaiwan (plus a little artwork) is around $40. Of course it will vary from vendor to vendor
Here's an examplehttp://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/hand-painted- ... 0bc&_uhb=1
Very nice size (about 100ml to the lid, 120ml to the brim) and shape for the money. And the finish is spot on. As thin as I've ever held and handles superbly. (the one I bought had a wider rim, the one pictured seems a bit more subtle in the rim department)
Bit of a ramble. Hope there was a bit of info in there useful to some one
My personal rating for porcelain thickness goes like this
Once held up to the light observing my fingers through the porcelain what do I see.
Thin: Can see the pinkness of my fingers
Medium: Can see the shadows of my fingers
Thick: Can see no fingers, no moon.