Turquoise is usually an opaque stone but sometimes there are very fine pieces that border on the translucent. It is a commonly found stone, well spread throughout the world, but it is a stone found in two distinct forms, American and its harder cousin, Persian. Both are composed of Copper with basic Aluminum Phosphate. Basically, it’s composed of copper ore. It can change colour from the popular sky blue to a dull bluish green when heated to only 482 F. Much Turquoise is laced with veins of brown Limonite, dark grey Sandstone or black jasper or Psilomelane. Turquoise is sometime associated with Azurite and Malachite. Turquoise is an alternate birthstone for April on older lists.
Turquoise literally translates as “Turkey”. It is from this area the finest specimens come from. But the story of Turquoise begins far earlier than the discovery of the Turkish deposits. In ancient times, 4000 BC or so, the Egyptians mined, and depleted, a low grade of this stone in the Sinai. It was of such poor quality and ran out so quickly that the artisans of the time created a secret material called “faience”; a enamel type of substance that replaced their low grade and looked very real, (and much better). In fact, the deception was so good it continued to fool the “experts” until the mid 1900’s. Later on, the discovery of new and much better material in Turkey made it available to all who had the money. Time continued to pass and very nice pieces were discovered by the Inca and Aztec in the southern US and what is now Mexico and by the Chinese. But nothing was as fine as the Persian material. Finally Turquoise was found in the modern American Southwest and that was the beginning of the end.
Historically, Turquoise was priced at more than gold or silver and was reserved for the elite. As late as the 1960’s, wholesale dealers of very fine Persian Turquoise cabochons, only 15 mm X 20 mm. were paying as much as $2,000.00 per piece.
Unfortunately, the Americans tried to produce and sell as much product as they could to cash in on the trend. They began the process of “plasticizing”, the use of a binder to glue together unstable, lower grades and to make them appear better than they really were. Then along came “stones” that were more plastic than mineral. The trust in the market fell to pieces.
Furthermore even the Native artisan aspect of the product was severely damaged in the 1970’s by one major tribe in the Midwest. They were caught importing mass produced and signed “handmade native handiwork” from the far east. Their market died almost overnight and has never recovered.
As a result, prices on prime material is now well within the grasp of the average consumer and yet, demand remains very soft. If Turquoise is a stone you have an interest in, we have both American and Persian material in stock, set in both Silver and Gold. We also have a large amount of rough material and finished, unset stones for your viewing. In keeping with our company policy to present our clients with the best quality and value for their money, none of our material is treated in any way.