Turquoise often referred to as the “sky stone” is native to the Americas, Persia (Iran), Egypt, Tibet, and China. It forms in arid climates like the Southwest where large deposits have been found. Cerrillos, Bisbee, Sleeping Beauty, Kingman, Morenci, Number 8, Royston, Pilot Mountain, Carico Lake, and Blue Gem are some of the turquoise mines found in the Southwest.

The Native Americans would carve turquoise into animal fetishes, overlaid it into wood, shell, or bone. When silversmithing was introduced to the Americas by the Spanish, the Native Americans combined this new technique with turquoise to create an industry of sterling silver turquoise jewelry. Currently, 80% of all the turquoise on the market is Chinese or Tibetan. The remaining 20% is American, coming from the Sleeping Beauty and Kingman mines. The other American mines are mostly depleted producing very little or no turquoise. Any turquoise found that are from these depleted mines are most likely on the market from collections. American turquoise is very expensive compared to turquoise from China.

Turquoise is classified as a semiprecious opaque mineral composed of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate. The chemical formula is Cu(Al6Fe)(PO4)4(OH)8(4H2O). It is a porous stone and can have varying degrees of hardness. Turquoise can be bright blue, light blue, deep blue, green, very deep green, blue-green, and yellow-green. The color is determined by other minerals that are present in the turquoise such as iron making turquoise more greenish, and copper giving turquoise it’s blue color. Besides color, turquoise can display a matrix or patterns of brown, black, or white.

Some types of turquoise found on the market:

Natural turquoise: Turquoise that is untreated. It is mined, cut, polished, and made into jewelry. Less than 3% of all the turquoise found is natural and is much more expensive. The color of natural turquoise will deepen over time due to the absorption of natural skin oils as it is worn.

Stabilized turquoise: This type of turquoise is a good buy since it is so economical. This is soft or “chalk” turquoise that has been infused with a clear epoxy resin to give the stone its hardness. It also makes the color of the stone permanent and will not change when worn on the skin. Most turquoise on the market is stabilized turquoise.

Reconstituted Turquoise: This is soft turquoise that has been ground to a powder. Epoxy resin is mixed with it. Then dyed and pressed into cakes to be cut into shapes for jewelry making. This type of turquoise should be even less expensive then the stabilized turquoise.

Imitation Turquoise is not turquoise at all. It can be a gemstone such Howlite (which is white in its natural state) that can be dyed to look like turquoise. Resin can also be made to look like turquoise.

Mosaic Turquoise is made of chalk turquoise chips, magnesite mixed with resin, then dyed.

How to clean and care for turquoise:

The chemical term used for a Turquoise gemstone is hydrated copper aluminum phosphate. It is a hydrated phosphate mineral and is used to make cabochons, beads and carvings. Turquoise is somewhat a soft material (5-6 Mohs hardness) and is vulnerable to scratching.

But despite its relative softness it is used for jewelry making like earrings, rings, bracelets, pendants, beaded jewelry.

Natural turquoise is porous and can absorb body oil when worn next to the skin, and this sometimes can cause a change in color from blue to green. Be sure to keep perfume, hairspray, sunscreen, and other cosmetics from coming in contacting with this stone since this may change the color. Apply hairspray, perfume, etc. before putting on your turquoise stone.

Turquoise should be stored separately from harder gemstones which can scratch it. Place in a plastic bag or small gift box and place in your jewelry box.

Do not use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner on turquoise or abrasive chemical cleaners. Do not dip in silver dipping solutions. Do not soak in water. It is safest to clean turquoise using a damp soft cloth with a little mild soap (Ivory soap is good because it doesn't have any heavy perfumes or oils).

You can use a silver polishing cloth to clean any sterling silver metal that the stone is set in. (polishing clothes can be found at local jewelry stores).

Kingman Turquoise Beaded Necklace

Kingman Turquoise Beaded Bracelet

Turquoise Colored Howlite Gemstone Beaded Necklace

Turquoise Colored Howlite Pendant

Turquoise Colored Magnesite with Faux Cinnabar Beaded Necklace

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