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Top 10 American Southwest Turquoise Mines ~ A Purely Subjective List

Updated on February 19, 2013

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.

  1. Lander - Nevada
  2. Number 8 - Nevada
  3. Candalaria - Nevada
  4. Royston - Nevada
  5. Carico Lake- Nevada
  6. Sleeping Beauty - Arizona
  7. Morenci - Arizona
  8. Bisbee - Arizona
  9. Damele - Nevada
  10. 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

Lander Blue Turquoise
Lander Blue Turquoise

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.

Traditional Fancy Concho With Natural Number 8 Turquoise

Number 8 Turquoise
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

Number 8 Turquoise in Contemporary Sterling Silver Pendant
Number 8 Turquoise in Contemporary Sterling Silver Pendant

Turquoise Unearthed

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.

Number Eight

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 Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Exceptionally high-quality Candalaria turquoise.Exceptionally high-quality Candalaria turquoise.Cerrillos turquoise in grass-green with buckskin-colored matrix.Sleeping Beauty turquoise from rough to cabochon, and cutting stages in-between.A remarkably rare and beautiful Candalaria stone.Royston turquoise in aqua green.Damele turquoise ~ a glassy-hard, gorgeous specimen. Damele turquoise displays a distinctive mossy-patterned matrix.Deep sea-blue Bisbee.Aqua-colored Number 8 with a desert-floor colored matrix.Brilliant apple-green Carico Lake. This color is unbelievably striking set in high-karat gold.
Exceptionally high-quality Candalaria turquoise.
Exceptionally high-quality Candalaria turquoise.
Exceptionally high-quality Candalaria turquoise.
Exceptionally high-quality Candalaria turquoise.
Cerrillos turquoise in grass-green with buckskin-colored matrix.
Cerrillos turquoise in grass-green with buckskin-colored matrix.
Sleeping Beauty turquoise from rough to cabochon, and cutting stages in-between.
Sleeping Beauty turquoise from rough to cabochon, and cutting stages in-between.
A remarkably rare and beautiful Candalaria stone.
A remarkably rare and beautiful Candalaria stone.
Royston turquoise in aqua green.
Royston turquoise in aqua green.
Damele turquoise ~ a glassy-hard, gorgeous specimen. Damele turquoise displays a distinctive mossy-patterned matrix.
Damele turquoise ~ a glassy-hard, gorgeous specimen. Damele turquoise displays a distinctive mossy-patterned matrix.
Deep sea-blue Bisbee.
Deep sea-blue Bisbee.
Aqua-colored Number 8 with a desert-floor colored matrix.
Aqua-colored Number 8 with a desert-floor colored matrix.
Brilliant apple-green Carico Lake. This color is unbelievably striking set in high-karat gold.
Brilliant apple-green Carico Lake. This color is unbelievably striking set in high-karat gold.

4. Royston - Nevada

Royston turquoise
Royston turquoise

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."

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.

Carico Lake

Carico Lake
Carico Lake

A polished specimen nugget of Carico Lake turquoise shows blue turquoise in among the green.

The Brilliant Green Carico Lake Turquoise

The Brilliant Green Carico Lake Turquoise
The Brilliant Green Carico Lake Turquoise

Carico Lake

Carico Lake Turquoise
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

Natural Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Belt
Natural Sleeping Beauty Turquoise 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

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

Morenci Turquoise ~ Classic Color and Exciting Pyrite  Matrix
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.

Bisbee Ring

Bisbee turquoise ring
Bisbee turquoise ring

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

Damele Turquoise ~ Gorgeous in a Contemporary Sterling Ring
Damele Turquoise ~ Gorgeous in a Contemporary Sterling Ring

10. Cerrillos - New Mexico

Cerrillos Rurquoise
Cerrillos Rurquoise

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.

Are You Getting to Know Turquoise?

Which is Your Favorite Turquoise?

See results

Are You Falling in Love With Turquoise? - Let Me Know What You Think!

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    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 3 years ago

      Outstanding lens! Turquoise is my favorite color, my favorite stone, and my heritage from my grandfather's turquoise mine in Nevada. I am lensrolling your page to my article: :My Grandfather's Turquoise Rock.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I've always loved turquoise. I think the Nevada ones are the nicest here. I think turquoise in silver is stunning.

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      I have seen tiny red, yellow, green and blue gems they so beautiful. i didn't want to take my eyes away. good lens,

      i like these stones too. never came a cross stones like this. thanks for sharing

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I love the color - but my favorite version of turquoise is in lakes - the color of the water is so stunning. I picked your lens to vote on as "the color I love" for the current squidquest. I am so glad I found this lens. It is charming! Blessings -

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, these beautiful pictures make them more tempting.

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Nice pictures of turquoise,great lens

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 4 years ago

      So beautiful. Incredible photos.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      I love turquoise jewelry, your pictures and presentation of the lens is so beautiful.

      I don't know we have so many turquoise mines. thanks for a great lens. Blessings!

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 4 years ago

      Very cool lens. I love exploring old mines.

    • AshleyCarew1 profile image

      AshleyCarew1 4 years ago

      Some really fantastic pieces here. Nice lens!

    • ShineRita profile image

      ShineRita 4 years ago

      I love turquoise, so beautiful!!!

    • profile image

      cricketlady 4 years ago

      I just went thru Nevada and saw all those mines, even camped out at one over the summer. Never got to dig any. Next year we will plan a trip around the Turquoise I think that would be fun to find some.

    • GSTS GSTS profile image

      GSTS GSTS 4 years ago

      Totally! Especially in summer time.

    • cellphonezone lm profile image

      cellphonezone lm 4 years ago

      Turquoise looks very cool. I like it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Let's say that I'm falling more in love with Turquoise!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Turquoise has always been one of my very favourite stones.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 4 years ago

      @Stacy Birch: Thank you!

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 4 years ago

      Very lovely.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 4 years ago

      @Madonaa: I'm so glad that you enjoyed it and learned something. Thank you!

    • Madonaa profile image

      Madonaa 4 years ago

      Your lens is really good! It has increased my knowledge on this!

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 4 years ago

      @tonybonura: Thank you! Turquoise is so lovely.

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Isn't turquoise beautiful! I was once married to a woman who was crazy about turquoise and sliver jewelry. Especially if it looked like it was made by Indian craftsmen. Really liked your lens.

      TonyB

    • profile image

      What_to_Know 4 years ago

      I love it I think a brilliant blue is great plus it's my school color

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a lovely turquoise pendant from Arizona. I've always liked it.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      Beautiful lens!

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 4 years ago

      I've always had a thing for turquoise.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I fell in love with turquoise a long, long time ago! Loving this lens so far. :)

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      @ansruthi: Thank you! I am glad you stopped by.

    • profile image

      ansruthi 5 years ago

      Beautiful collection

    • sagebrushmama profile image

      sagebrushmama 5 years ago

      I need to explore my state a bit...we were on vacation in NM and saw a poster depicting the areas from which turquoise is obtained, and I never realized how much comes from Nv. I always figured it was a NM thing when I was growing up because my Granddad always had a turquoise bolo tie on.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      @MizzMary: I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for letting my know.

    • MizzMary profile image

      MizzMary 5 years ago

      I didn't know that turquoise was available in so many varieties. I love jewelry in all of its forms, and now I just have to have one of these. Fantastic pictures and lens!

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      @Melissa Miotke: Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the photos and the lens.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      I already loved it! You picked some great pieces!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens! thank for sharing

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens! thank for sharing

      ''

      Top 10 surround sound systems 2012

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      @LadyFlashman: OH! Sorry about your bracelet. Turquoise is lovely; I hope you get to replace your bracelet one day. Thanks for visiting!

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I love turquoise, I bought a beautiful silver bracelet with turquoise in Albuquerque and it got stolen!!! I was heartbroken! They are such lovely stones.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      @alina nicoleta92: Thank you!

    • alina nicoleta92 profile image

      alina nicoleta92 5 years ago

      Really beautiful stones. I also like to wear them because they are so pretty.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      @gypsyman27 lm: Thank you! I hope you do> Turquoise is eternally lovely.

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 5 years ago

      I used to wear a bit of turquoise jewelry, I'm thinking about restarting the habit. This is a great lens on the subject. See you around the galaxy...

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      They all look so beautiful. Blessed!

    • Thomas-J-Stevens profile image

      Thomas-J-Stevens 5 years ago

      The Candalaria turquoise caught my eye. A shame to hear only silver is being mined there.

    • profile image

      Natural_Skin_Care 5 years ago

      Turquoise is such a beautiful stone.

    • peggygallyot profile image

      peggygallyot 5 years ago

      They are beautiful .

    • ReviewsfromSandy profile image

      Sandy Mertens 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Always love the look of turquoise.

    • profile image

      Diamondsinafrica 5 years ago

      Absolutely love turquoise it is one of my jewellery favourites ( behind diamonds of course). Great lens with images of some beautiful stones

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes, it is hard not to- it's so pretty.

    • ceejaycmarshall profile image

      ceejaycmarshall 5 years ago

      I've always loved turquoise... it's my momma's favorite and reminds me of her! :]

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      wow amazing stones, really i'd never see stones like these

    • profile image

      panax00 5 years ago

      @hotbrain: thanks for shared

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      There is a lot more character to the stones than I've ever noticed.

    • profile image

      getwellsoon 5 years ago

      Love turquoise! Thanks for the wonderful lens!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      I'm a jewelry designer and my favorite stone is Turquoise. I'm partial the Kingman. Blessed.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Congrats on making it to the front page of Squidoo... Those Turquoise stones are so beautiful! Great pictures :)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I always like turquoise. It's simple and pretty.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Thank you for your kind comments!

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      One of my favorite stones for jewelry. Most of the ones I own are from Navajo artisans. I did not know there were so many kinds. Thanks for sharing.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      Too good no to pin - http://pinterest.com/pin/85286986663714226/

      I visited Lander, there's a natural hot spa fairly close with flesh nibbling fish!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I am color blind to this color is hard for me to see :( However, I do assume that a lot of turquoise comes from the Globe/Miami area here in AZ as they have huge copper mines there. Blessed!

    • profile image

      trendydad 5 years ago

      my mother love Turquoise...great lens

    • NatureLuver profile image

      NatureLuver 5 years ago

      Some amazingly beautiful stones here.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      I have always liked turquoise

    • Find-Online profile image

      Find-Online 5 years ago

      Your photos showing such close looks at the gems are fantastic. Interesting lens!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Beautifully done. I get a lot of turquoise jewelry at estate auctions here in Phoenix. Squid Angel blessed!

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      Great lens with excellent pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very beautiful stone.thanks for sharing

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Thank you so much!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      The turquoise is absolutely beautiful!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      These photos are so beautiful.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I love Turquoise! Beautiful article. :)

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Indeed - such a beautiful stone, indeed! :)

    • PTurner56 profile image

      PTurner56 5 years ago

      I've always loved Turquoise and have a lot of it! I've never seen green Turquoise, though, and I must say it's gorgeous! That's all I need...something new to buy! Great lens!

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Thank you!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      Well done, love your original photos.

    • Rosaquid profile image
      Author

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Thank you for your comment!