Top 10 American Southwest Turquoise Mines ~ A Purely Subjective List
Get to Know the Beautiful Gems They Produce
Beneath the dry, dusty surface of the land girdling the Earth at latitudes between 29 degrees north and 39 degrees north, turquoise quietly sleeps. Within these latitudes lie Iran, Tibet, Hubei China and the American Southwest, including Northern Mexico. These areas of the Earth most prolifically produce one of the world's perennial aesthetic delights: rare, natural turquoise.
Turquoise is found where there is copper in the Earth. In fact, copper must be present in order for turquoise to form; turquoise is composed of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate.
Modern methods of copper mining are responsible for obliterating much of the glimmering treasure within the turquoise-containing ore; acids employed to facilitate efficient copper extraction destroy the turquoise.
Other desirable gems are lost as well; azurite, malachite and Druzy chrysocolla are sacrificed to copper mining.
Natural turquoise is rare and valuable. Desirable stones exhibit rich, brilliant color and a glassy hardness, such as the Lander stone pictured here set in 14K gold.
This is my own purely subjective list of favorite American Southwest turquoises. Other turquoises mined around the world, including Chinese and Tibetan, are as gorgeous and desirable as that from the American Southwest, and Persian turquoise is legendary.
The photos and text n this article are the creation and property of the author. All other images duly credited and noted. Thank you for respecting image and intellectual property copyright laws and principles.
Photo of the Lander mine in Nevada, USA, graciously provided by Bob Brucia
My Own Favorites
I love all turquoise! The list of my ten favorite American Southwest turquoise mines have produced some of the most beautiful gems in the world.
See the photos throughout this lens and let me know if you agree with me.
- Lander - Nevada
- Number 8 - Nevada
- Candalaria - Nevada
- Royston - Nevada
- Carico Lake- Nevada
- Sleeping Beauty - Arizona
- Morenci - Arizona
- Bisbee - Arizona
- Damele - Nevada
- Cerrillos - New Mexico
Their passion for turquoise takes serious artists and collectors to high levels of accomplishment and expertise. Visit the top sites listed here.
1. Lander Blue - Nevada - Natural Turquoise From the Lander Mine is the World's Rarest
The location of the Lander mine, shown in the introduction photo above, produced what are still the world's most expensive turquoise stones during its only active year. The Lander mine is called a "hat mine"; the small area of the turquoise deposit could be covered with a cowboy hat.
The mine was accidentally discovered by a picnicking black-jack dealer in 1973. Rita Hapgood sold her claim to two men who formed the Lander Blue Turquoise Corporation, and within a year, the deposit had exhausted its precious yield.
The world's largest collection of Lander turquoise is found at The Lander Blue Collection; see the link below.
The Lander Blue Collection
The world's foremost collector offers lots of photos and more information about the fascinating Lander mine and its produce.
- The Lander Blue Collection
View the worlds most valuable turquoise here, where these rare stones, and jewelry set with them, are offered for sale.
Traditional Fancy Concho With Natural Number 8 Turquoise
A small natural Number 8 Turquoise stone is featured in this fancy traditional hand-stamped concho.
2. Number 8 - Nevada
Number 8 turquoise comes from a large area originally encompassing ten claims of twenty acres each, not too far from the Lander mine. The active decades of the 1930s through the 1950s saw high production. Natural Number 8 stones are becoming more difficult to find; many fine stones are in private collections.
The stones display complex matrix in black or earthy tones, and the turquoise may be quite blue or greenish in color.
Natural Number 8 Turquoise - Gorgeous in Gold!
An especially fine Natural Number 8 turquoise stone glows in this 14K gold contemporary setting by Thomas Carusetta.
Number 8 Turquoise in Contemporary Sterling Silver Pendant
This handy paperback is our quick reference of choice for reliable information about various turquoise stones and their origin.
Number 8 Turquoise in 14K Pin
A contemporary bezel sets off this natural Number 8 stone admirably.
The spiderweb matrix really stands out, and the blue of the stone is richly highlighted by the gold setting.
A beautiful polished slice of Number Eight rock.
Dead Pawn on eBay
Turquoise "finds" on eBay include the occasional Dead Pawn auction; items left for pawn and never claimed. Keep an eye out for natural Southwest American turquoise items!
3. Candalaria - Nevada
Candalaria turquoise comes from Esmeralda County in the southern area of Nevada. I believe that some stones have color and character that almost rival Lander turquoise. Candalaria is a sliver mine; no turquoise mining is currently allowed.
Photo graciously provided by Bob Brucia, Nevada Gem.
Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
4. Royston - Nevada
Royston stones are found in a lovely range of greens and blues. The original mine, in Southwestern Nevada, was called the Royal Blue mine. The variety of aqua colors and the beautiful spiderweb matrix in many specimens keep Royston turquoise stones among my favorites.
Natural Turquoise ~ A Rare Treasure of the Earth
Natural turquoise crowned historically royal heads. " Commoners" today enjoy rare natural turquoise in contemporary jewelry set in precious metals. Explore more on the subject in my lens "Natural Turquoise ~ A Rare Treasure of the Earth."
- Natural Turquoise ~ A Rare Treasure of the Earth
Explore more turquoise and related information on my new turquoise lens!
Contemporary Carico Lake Man's Ring in Sterling Silver
A contemporary man's ring by Arizona artist Thomas Carusetta displays a fine, natural Carico Lake cabochon set in sterling silver.
5. Carico Lake- Nevada
Carico Lake hails from a large, active mining district in the north central area of Nevada. Zinc gives green Carico Lake turquoise its distinctive apple-green color. High-grade specimens are glassy hard and glowingly brilliant. It is especially attractive set in high-karat gold.
A polished specimen nugget of Carico Lake turquoise shows blue turquoise in among the green.
The Brilliant Green Carico Lake Turquoise
A contemporary sterling silver man's ring by Thomas Carusetta set with a fine Carico Lake stone, shown here along with a Carico Lake cabochon and a polished Carico Lake specimen nugget.
6. Sleeping Beauty - Arizona
The Sleeping Beauty copper mine yielded an abundance of consistently colored turquoise. Stones provided manufacturers in the turquoise fad hey-day of the latter third of the twentieth century. Sleeping Beauty turquoise was widely treated to color its normally white matrix artificially black. Because of this, and its former abundance, serious collectors once eschewed Sleeping Beauty turquoise.
Natural Sleeping Beauty turquoise with no visible matrix is, however, exceptionally beautiful and rare. The stones are similar to ancient Persian turquoise specimens that ornamented royal crowns throughout history.
The Sleeping Beauty mine is located in the copper mining district of eastern Arizona.
Natural Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Concho Belt
This exquisite concho belt has been in our family for decades. Navajo artist F. M. Begay created the belt especially for us, and the women in our family wear and enjoy it as a never-out-of-style classic accessory with jeans or dresses. Versatile natural turquoise is always gorgeous.
An Especially Fine Natural Morenci Turquoise Stone
Turquoise Fashion Jewelry From Amazon
7. Morenci - Arizona
The open-pit Morenci copper mine in Arizona yielded turquoise stones of a brilliant sky-blue color and an iron-pyrite matrix. This metallic matrix combined with its glowing color give Morenci a distinctive appearance, though there are other turquoises that also display iron-pyrite matrix.
Morenci turquoise nuggets found their way out of the copper pit mine in the pockets and lunch boxes of copper miners and heavy equipment operators, giving it the nickname of a "lunch-box" type turquoise.
Morenci Turquoise ~ Classic Color and Exciting Pyrite Matrix
Especially Fine Natural Morenci Turquoise
8. Bisbee - Arizona
In southern Arizona, the Lavender Pit copper mine in Bisbee is now closed. Bisbee turquoise varies in coloration, but most specimens are deeply colored in shades of blue with a smokey black matrix. It is difficult to photograph and capture the true richness of color in Bisbee turquoise stones.
A simple setting of sterling silver with a 14K gold bezel allows Bisbee turquoise to shine in its own mysteriously smoky way.
9. Damele - Nevada
Damele is unrivaled for its distinctive moss-patterned matrix, its rich green color variations and its super-glassy hardness. The colors vary from mossy green to chartreuse to bright lime. Damele turquoise is rare and valuable. It is spectacular set in high-karat cold.
I love the mossy matrix pattern of in Damele turquoise.
Damele Turquoise ~ Gorgeous in a Contemporary Sterling Ring
10. Cerrillos - New Mexico
Cerrillos turquoise is my only choice from New Mexico, although there are other worthy stones from there. Indigenous Pueblo peoples mined the area, which is between modern-day Santa Fe and Albuquerque, as early as 1300 B.C.E. Cerrillos turquoise was actively mined in modern times through the 1950s. Cerrillos turquoise ranges in color through blues and greens.