Turquoise Jewelry: History, Care, and Buying Guide
I love turquoise jewelry! In fact, it’s my favorite of all gemstones, including diamonds. Turquoise is a blue-green mineral that has been prized by mankind for thousands of years due to its beautiful color. It’s been used for carving, for inlays, for small sculptures, for palace domes, and in turquoise jewelry, of course. The stones range in hue from pale blue to aqua to almost pure green. They might also contain flecks of pyrite or dark veins of limonite, iron oxide, iron pyrite, black chert, or rhyolite. Turquoise stone is fairly soft, so it can be carved into a wide variety of shapes. Despite its inherent beauty and impressive history, turquoise used to be relatively cheap. Now that some of the mines are closing, however, the price of some types of turquoise is rising rapidly. Still, compared to other gemstones, turquoise is still pretty affordable, especially if you look for bargains. To learn more about turquoise and turquoise jewelry, keep reading!
Turquoise stone has been mined for centuries. In fact, it was one of the first minerals actively sought by humans. The ancient Egyptians were probably the first to mine the mineral, and it often adorned the pharaohs. Historians state that the Egyptians mined turquoise as early as 3000 BC, largely on the Sinai Peninsula. Tutankhamen’s famous gold burial mask is inlaid with turquoise.
Another ancient site for turquoise mines was Persia, which is present-day Iran. The mineral has been mined there for over 2,000 years and was probably the source of turquoise for Europe. China has been mining turquoise for even longer – 3,000 years, although in small quantities. There, the mineral was often carved in much the same manner as jade.
The United States is a major source of turquoise, especially the Southwest. Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, and Nevada are all rich with turquoise. Native Americans have been mining and crafting the mineral for hundreds of years and continue to do so today. Some of the world’s best turquoise comes from Sleeping Beauty Mine in Globe, Arizona. Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is highly prized due to its vivid natural color and general lack of veins. See more items with Sleeping Beauty Turquoise by clicking the jewelry below.
Green turquoise is usually real turquoise. The natural stone contains copper, iron, and other elements which give the gemstone its hue. If the stone contains high amounts of iron, vanadium, chromium, and/or aluminum, the color of the mineral will appear greener. If it contains more copper, the stone will be bluer. If you prefer green turquoise over blue turquoise or blue-green turquoise, you’ll have no problem finding what you want.
Most green turquoise is mined in Nevada, where large amounts of iron give the gemstones their beautiful green coloring. The shades of green run the gamut, including pale green, lime green, yellow-green, apple green, emerald green, and dark forest green. Sometimes a single cut turquoise stone will exhibit several different shades. The veins or spiderwebbing, when present, might be black, brown, or tan.
Are you interested in white turquoise? Does it even exist? Well, there are certainly jewelry items that call their stones white turquoise, but the stones might not actually be turquoise at all. There are natural turquoise stones that are almost white, but these usually have a vague underlying hue of green or blue. Also, in its natural state, real white turquoise is usually much too soft to be formed into gemstones and polished. Dry Creek Turquoise, for example, is real white turquoise, but it’s not pure white. It’s a very, very pale bluish green. What some people refer to as white turquoise is really a stone called White Buffalo, or White Buffalo Turquoise. This type of white turquoise probably isn’t real turquoise. It has veins like turquoise, and it cuts and polishes like the blue-green gemstone, but the makeup is different. White Buffalo lacks the iron and copper found in real turquoise stone.
Sometimes stones other than real turquoise are described as white turquoise. The two stones most often labeled this way are magnesite and howlite. Magnesite is often white or colorless, and it’s often dyed to make colorful beads. Howlite is another white or clear stone, often occurring with veins like the ones seen in natural turquoise stone. It has a porous composition, so it easily accepts dyes. Some jewelry marketed as real turquoise is actually dyed howlite.
Purple turquoise is very popular, but the term can be misleading. Purple turquoise jewelry may or may not be made with real turquoise. Sometimes real turquoise stone is crushed and mixed with red dye, resulting in a purplish hue. It’s natural turquoise stone, but it’s been combined with a resin and an unnatural color. Another natural stone, sugilite, is sometimes referred to as purple turquoise. Sugilite is a purplish-pinkish stone that’s found in India, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Canada, and Italy. Natural turquoise stones are sometimes dyed in order to present different colors, including purple.
I've read that in rare instances, natural turquoise might be found that has a lavender or violet hue. Supposedly, this type of purple turquoise tests as real turquoise. This stone should not be confused with stones from the Lavender Mine in Cochise County, Arizona. Turquoise mined in the Lavender Pit includes brilliant blue stones of high quality, referred to as Bisbee Blue. These are prized gemstones, but they're not purple or lavender in color.
Pink turquoise is very stylish now, by itself and in combination with traditional blue or green turquoise. The stones are often made by dyeing natural turquoise stone. Oftentimes, however, stones and jewelry labeled as pink turquoise are not real turquoise. Instead, they’re howlite stones that have been dyed pink. When purchasing jewelry of this type, read any fine print that accompanies the description of the item. If the stone is described as turquenite, it’s howlite or magnesite – not real turquoise stone.
Turquoise is my absolute favorite stone. Not only is it my favorite color, but I also like many of the traditional settings for the stones. When turquoise jewelry made a big splash in the 1970s, I was a teenager and was very fashion conscious, like most teens. I had numerous pieces of turquoise jewelry. Although it fell somewhat out of favor in the 80s and 90s, I continued to wear the beautiful bluish-green stones because I liked them so much. Now, of course, turquoise is “in” again!
Turquoise jewelry can be worn by anyone, but I think it looks especially attractive on people with cool skin tones. If you’ve been “colorized,” you know what I’m talking about. I think my turquoise looks best on me in the summer, when I have a suntan. I suppose that’s one reason I like the stone so much – I associate it with fun summer times like beach vacations and boating on the lake. I also have some Native American ancestry on my dad’s side of the family, so that might have something to do with my affinity to turquoise, too.
I have turquoise necklaces, turquoise rings, turquoise bracelets, turquoise pendants, and turquoise earrings, and I’m always on the lookout for some new piece of turquoise jewelry that’s unique or unusual. The best deals I’ve found for turquoise jewelry are online.
What kinds of turquoise jewelry can you find online? Just about every type imaginable - handmade turquoise jewelry or handcrafted turquoise jewelry, Navajo turquoise jewelry, turquoise beaded jewelry, turquoise and silver jewelry, turquoise and coral jewelry, native turquoise jewelry, and Southwest turquoise jewelry. Check out the selection and prices on turquoise necklaces, turquoise rings, turquoise pendants, and turquoise earrings in the Amazon ads.
Are you searching for the perfect turquoise necklace? If so, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make. You can find a turquoise necklace in any length you want. Turquoise necklaces might be made with round beads, carved beads, or chunky stones. A piece might be a single pendant suspended from a silver chain. Oftentimes, the pendant has a Native American design or theme, like a squash blossom, a horn, an eagle, a horse, or a geometric shape. The necklace might be a combination of a beaded chain and a pendant. Collar necklaces, fringed bibs, and chokers are also popular.
The most beautiful turquoise necklace I’ve ever owned was one given to me by my ex when we were engaged to be married. He designed the necklace himself and hired a jeweler to make it. It was comprised of turquoise beads, chunky turquoise stones, tiger’s eye, and quail feathers. The chain was sterling silver, eighteen inches long. I wore that necklace almost every day!
Below is a sterling silver and turquoise necklace in a squash blossom design. To see more necklaces, click on the picture.
I have several pairs of turquoise earrings. Some are simple studs, some are carved into designs, and some are more of the chandelier type. I also have a pair of teardrop turquoise earrings that are accented with abalone. Most of the earrings I have featuring the gemstone are in the Native American design, and all are combined with sterling silver. In my opinion, the color goes much better with silver than it does with gold. Silver also looks better with my skin tone, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than real gold!
I don’t often wear rings, but I do have a couple of nice turquoise rings that I sometimes wear. One has a single large oval stone that’s surrounded by a silver leaf and stem. Another is a Navaho ring with inlaid turquoise and red coral. Turquoise rings might be comprised of just the blue-green gemstones, or they might contain other types of stones, as well, including mother of pearl, opal, pink sapphire, pearl, or even diamond. Styles are pretty much limitless, too. Large, bold stones can often be worn by men or women, while some women prefer smaller stones. You can also find turquoise rings in which the entire band is a solid circle of carved turquoise stone. To see lots more examples of turquoise rings, click on either of the products below.
How to Care for Turquoise Jewelry
Gemstones are rated for their hardness, with something called the Mohs Scale. Stones and minerals are assigned a rating of 1 – 10, with 10 being the hardest. Most turquoise ranges from 5 to 7. To give you some examples for comparison, chalk is given a 0 or a 1, glass is given around a 5, quartz is assigned a 7, and diamond is at the top of the scale, with a rating of 10.
With that in mind, you need to take care of your turquoise jewelry if you want it to keep its good looks. The stone can be damaged or discolored by lots of chemicals and other corrosive substances: household cleaners, soap, salt water, sunscreen, fragrances, and even hairspray. Even long exposure to water and bright sunlight might cause the stone to lose its vivid color, so remove your turquoise jewelry before spending a day at the pool or the beach. Your stones also need to be protected from other pieces of jewelry, as harder stones and metals can scratch the turquoise. If your turquoise earrings or rings came in a small padded box, store them in the box. For larger pieces, store them in soft jewelry bags. A good alternative is the drawstring bag that Crown Royal comes in. If your turquoise jewelry is sterling silver, place the item in a small Ziploc bag and suck out all the air. Then place the bag in a soft fabric cloth or bag.
If you wear your turquoise jewelry often, it’s bound to get dirty sooner or later. Of course, the best way to avoid your jewelry getting dirty is not to wear it when you’re performing “grimy” tasks. Even so, the stone can get a buildup of dirt or smudge from the environment and from normal daily activities. To clean it, it’s best to use a soft, dry cloth. If that doesn’t work, dampen a very soft toothbrush and use it to clean the stone. After cleaning, be sure to dry the stone thoroughly. If the stone still isn’t clean, don’t be tempted to use jewelry cleaner or soap. Instead, take the piece to a professional jeweler. He or she might be able to remove stains without damaging the stone. With proper care and handling, your turquoise jewelry should maintain its gorgeous natural color for years to come.
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