Our Story

AZ Turquoise, is a subsidiary of R. T. Research, which is a family owned and operated business in Tempe, Arizona. It started when Russell Twiford III was studying art and jewelry design at Colorado University in Boulder. His father, who was living in Arizona, sent him a parcel of turquoise stones, which he instantly fell in love with, and used to create a small collection of contemporary turquoise jewelry. 

After college, he moved to Arizona where he set up a small jewelry studio and began buying turquoise rough to make cabs and incorporate into silver jewelry pieces. The natural turquoise that he was using was expensive and the limited quantities made it difficult to acquire. It was about that time in the 70’s that stabilized turquoise was being developed by him. It was during those years that Russell Twiford III met Patricia. They married, became business partners, and started a family together 

The primary types of rough turquoise were MorenciKingmanSleeping Beauty, and Mexican. A close relationship developed with Mr. Leonard Hardy, the King of Turquoise. Mr. Hardy mined tons of Kingman turquoise and later got the contract for the Sleeping Beauty mine. We stabilized turquoise for Mr. Hardy for over 15 years. He was a customer but also a source of turquoise rough for our own business. After we invented the compressed turquoise block, we bought tons of smaller sized Sleeping Beauty and Kingman turquoise for compressing. It took a team of employees back then whose primary job was to separate the different grades and color types before compressing. We invested heavily in turquoise rough ore direct from miners to stabilize and sell to major market locations in New Mexico and Asia. 

Russell Twiford III traveled into Mexico in search of turquoise rough ore for stabilizing. Mexico had been crafting with turquoise since the time of the Aztecs so when the market started to boom, many mines opened to supply the demand for rough material. Open pit mines in Cananea and Nacozari produced large quantities. From the Nacozari mine alone, we purchased over 40 tons and during those several years we cut 1-2 tons per month into bead strands and cabochons. 

To further our business we opened the locations, Semi-Precious Ltd. in Scottsdale, Arizona, Turquoise Outlet in Gallup New Mexico, and Turqueza International in Taxco, Mexico. Arizona turquoise mine production started to lessen as the mines became depleted. China mines started producing quantities of turquoise rough so we entered a partnership with a Hong Kong company that had a large 5,000 person force cutting semi-precious stone.

In collaboration with the lapidary company in China, we opened the New Sun factory with a 1,000 person team where we stabilized and cut about one ton of turquoise per day. However, our financial benefits were not well compensated for the amount of work produced.

Eventually the New Sun contract ended so we joined forces with a factory owner but on a much smaller scale of 200 employees. We purchased turquoise to stabilize and then started to produce a variety of strands, beads, and cabochons for the world market. One of our largest customers had a sales program on American television. Our first order with their company was 20,000 strands and took 10 tons of turquoise to produce! Over the next few years we would produce hundreds of thousands of turquoise strands in the smaller factory. Eventually most Chinese mines stopped producing turquoise roughs.

Throughout the past four decades of international business ventures, we have been fortunate to make many good friends and cultivate valued relationships while enjoying the many cultures that the path of our business has led us down. The many areas and  regions of turquoise that we have worked with include, Southwestern turquoise from Arizona (where we started), Nevada, Mexico, Australia, China, Chile, Egypt, Iran, Cornwall England, Uzbekistan, and Armenia. 

Today, we have gone back to our roots in Tempe, Arizona where we run our family business. After graduation from Arizona State University with a degree from W.P. Carey School of Business in Entrepreneurship, our son, Russell Twiford IV became an integral part of our team and is leading us in a new direction of social media, internet sales, and production. Our niece, Camille, has been the office manager for many years.

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