Turquoise Education

Turquoise’s history reaches back to the beginning of recorded time. One of the first stones to be mined, it is endeared to more cultures than any other gemstone. The word ‘turquois’ means Turkish in French as the stone was named after Turkish traders. The actual color of turquoise was named after the stone by the English in 1573.


Turquoise is a byproduct of copper and iron. Most copper mines choose to leach copper out of the ore, which degrades the turquoise. Although turquoise has a high value, the copper ore has a much higher value based on the mine's output, so very few copper mines contract the mining of turquoise alone.


Turquoise is found in Egypt, Iran, China, Southwestern United States, Mexico, Chile, Uzbekistan, Cornwall England, Armenia and Australia. Found in the upper 1,000 meters of the earth, most major mines have been depleted. For decades, tonnage of rough was available but today, large quantities are scarce.


Categories of Turquoise:


Natural: Gem quality with no altering treatment of any type whatsoever. Body oil or age can alter the natural color. Less than 1% of mined turquoise can be considered natural. Due to its higher value, natural turquoise is primarily set in gold jewelry.

Enhanced: Similar to stabilized, but with silicates. Since most turquoise contains silica, the treatment is hard to detect, so ‘enhanced’ has been marketed as Natural though it is not ”‘natural.

Stabilized: Turquoise impregnated with clear transparent resins to improve color and structural integrity. Stabilized is considered ‘color stable’ and should never change color.

Stabilized Color Enhanced: The natural color of turquoise is altered by dyes to improve or change the color. Dyes are not UV stable, so extended exposure to the sun can lighten or degrade the color.

Compressed & Stabilized: Most turquoise is smaller in size and exhibits color variations. By first homogenizing and compressing turquoise rough into block shapes, mass production and product uniformity is more easily achieved by creating a unified pallet of color. Metal or oxide powders can be added to the rough before compressing to add another level of interest with matrix variations.


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