Monday, December 27, 2010

Delightful Discoveries - Rhapsody in (Turquoise) Blue 12.27.10

Turquoise is a term derived from the French word turques, a reference to the republic of Turkey, since the first commercially mined turquoise introduced in France came from mines there. A once highly prized gemstone, said to have appeared on the breastplate of gods and warriors down through the ages, this gemstone continues to be highly valued but also provides a topic of discussion and contention among the "experts" of the jewelry and lapidary worlds. I thought I'd share a few of the "facts" I've gathered from a variety of scientific and gemology sites in my wanderings on the net. I won't profess to know everything about this gemstone, and as for the items showcased here today, I'll let you be the judge of their quality, beauty, and design!

That beautiful blue color that most people associate with turquoise actually comes from the copper content of the mother mineral deposit. As the copper within the mineral oxidizes and combines with other chemical components, it transforms the rock into any of a number of typically bright blue, sky-blue, pale green, blue-green, turquoise-blue, apple-green, and green-gray stones. The amount of green undertones is caused and enhanced by the presence of iron in the mineral mix.

Turquoise Enchantment - Necklace, Bracelet, and Earrings
from Mysticwynd

Deposits of turquoise are found nearly everywhere copper is mined. It occurs naturally and is found and mined on every continent with the exception of Antarctica.

Turquoise Mosaic Cow Skull
from ReneGibson**

Most of the turquoise sold in the world (90-97%) is treated in some way before it is sold. Without treatment, most turquoise will absorb chemicals from the environment and eventually take on a greenish color over the years, owing to the porous nature of the gem.

Tea Light with 2 Turquoise Stones from Mountainhighstone**

Turquoise is often marked with dark veins that run through it called "matrix." The color of the matrix is determined by the nature of the mother rock. Black matrices are typically caused by the presence of iron pyrite, yellow or gold by the presence of rhyolite, an igneous, volcanic rock, and brown by the presence of iron oxide.

Turquoise Gemstone Bracelet with Aztec Beads by Gilliauna

"White" Buffalo Turquoise? While many would argue that it doesn't exist, more and more mineralogy experts are accepting this aberration stone as a true turquoise based on the way it forms. It is only mined one place in the world - the Dry Creek Mine in Nevada, making it as rare as a white buffalo!

Elk Antler Horn Turquoise and Bone Necklace from HintOfNature

Turquoise mining began in the Sinai Peninsula around 5500 BC. The stones taken from these mines served jewelry, amulet and cosmetic purposes for millennia. In 1900, archaeologists who excavated the tomb of the Egyptian Queen Zer (5500 BC) found a Turquoise and gold bracelet on her wrist. This is the world’s oldest known example of surviving turquoise jewelry.

The only substance known to dissolve turquoise is heated hydrochloric acid. (I wonder if they've tried mother's spit - doesn't that dissolve just about anything known to man??)

Turquoise Nouveau Scepter Rollerball Pen - Handcrafted Stone Pen from norskwoodshop

The United States is the largest producer of turquoise in the world today. Most of the turquoise mines in the country are located in the western states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.

Turquoise and Pearls Cabochon Embroidery Neck Collar from Ruonan

Ever wonder where some of the names for the different types of turquoise originate? Most of the time, they come from the mine they were taken out of - for instance, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise comes from the Sleeping Beauty Mine in Globe, AZ!


One of the oldest gemstones known in history, turquoise was believed to adorn the famed Breastplate of (the Hebrew High Priest) Aaron, an artifact synonymous with the mystery of the Biblical Holy Grail. Considered by Tibetans and Asians as a powerful stone to protect against evil, turquoise was, and by some still is, thought to bring prosperity into the wearer’s life and protect him from negative forces.

Aqua Marine 'Blessing Stick' Beadwork
from beadsalright**

The largest piece of rough turquoise ever mined came from Zhuxi in China. This piece weighed 82 kgs (180 lbs) and is currently located at the People's Congress Hall, where it is preserved as a national treasure.

Turquoise Pendant Necklace w Copper Swirls - Winds of Change from MysticWynd

Historical evidence indicates that ancient Egyptians learned how to stabilize turquoise. An analysis of the stones from ancient Egyptian archaeological sites found turquoise had been stabilized using beeswax. It's believed that the turquoise was placed in a container of beeswax that was boiled to a temperature where it became very thin. Because turquoise is a porous stone, its natural capillary action drew the beeswax throughout the stone. The stones were then removed and cooled. As cooling occurred, the beeswax crystallized.

As recently as the ‘70s, top-quality Persian turquoise was demanding prices of $2,000 for a 15x20mm piece. Thankfully, most prices have come way down!

Totally Turquoise cocktail ring size 6 from sunshinedaydreamz

Due to its color, quality, and limited supply, Lander turquoise, from the Lander Mine in Nevada, is currently the most expensive turquoise on the market. It's also the only turquoise that is sold by the carat rather than the gram!

Blue Turquoise Sleeping Tree of Life Pendant With Chain from tescar

Different regions of the world prefer different types of turquoise. In the middle east, the more matrix a piece of turquoise has, the more inferior the stone is considered. In the US, matrices are completely acceptable and often preferred, while other parts of the world prefer deep black matrices or light golden brown ones. The only thing that is consistent is the preference for the robin's egg blue color of the stone which is preferred the world over!


I hope you've enjoyed this look at turquoise - both the items and the facts about this beautiful gemstone. I'll be combining a couple of color features tomorrow, so be sure to come back and enjoy my look at jade green and unmellow yellow!

See you then :)
**designates an undiscovered or underdiscovered shop!


Ian said...

Great informative piece, thanks for including my bolo tie!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful read, thank you!


Beth said...

Great information on my absolute favorite stone! Thanks for including my ring. Off to check out these other amazing turquoise items!!

Gilliauna said...

Wonderful feature and very informative! Thanks so much for including one of my pieces as one of your choices for an example!

- Gilliauna

Anonymous said...

awesome to know about turquoise. Gorgeous picks. thanks for this wonderful blog post.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful amount of information! Thanks for including my leather and turquoise cuff!

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