Ladies & gents, time to pay homage to one of our favorite gemstones...turquoise. Although we love working with the more traditional gemstones (i.e. diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc.), we love the fact that more and more of our clients have been asking for turquoise fine jewelry. At times, turquoise can get overlooked because it does not have the same "glitter" and clarity of transparent colored gemstones (like the aforementioned gems above), but its multi-layered history and ever so pleasing color make it one of our gems of choice. Its color spectrum can run from dull greens to a bright sky blue. We love the history behind the gemstone, along with the soothing feeling we get from its illustrious color.
We wanted to share some of the history behind the famous stone, along with some fun facts and qualities you find when dealing with turquoise.
History/fun facts about turquoise:
Turquoise is found in dry/barren regions. It is formed through a chemical reaction when water rich in copper soaks into the ground and reacts with minerals containing phosphorus and aluminum. The result of this process is a porous, semi glassy to cloudy compound of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate, aka turquoise.
(image courtesy of thenoisyplume.com)
There are 26 types of turquoise from Ajax to Tyrone.
The traditional source for "robin’s egg blue" or "sky blue" turquoise, is the Nishapur district of Iran (formerly known as Persia). So, when you hear the expression "Persian Blue," people are referring to this beautiful, blue color. Whether or not the stone was extracted from Iran, people will still call them Persian Blue.
(image courtesy of crystalvaults.com)
Turquoise is one of the world’s most ancient gems. Back in their heyday, ancient Egyptian rulers would adorn themselves with turquoise jewelry all of the time. The stone has been found buried in many Egyptian tombs, and is some of the world's oldest jewelry. The famous golden King Tut mask is inlaid with Turquoise.
(image courtesy of techtimes.com)
Chinese craftsmen were working with the gemstone more than 3,000 years ago. Turquoise is the national gem of Tibet. It is believed that the stone ensures health, good fortune and wards away evil.
The name "turquoise" comes from the French expression pierre tourques, or “Turkish stone.” The name originated in the thirteenth century and more than likely, arrived in Europe via Turkish trade routes.
Other than ornate jewelry, turquoise was seen as a form of currency and a powerful gem used in ceremonies by Southwestern Native American tribes. Apache warriors believed turquoise would increase their accuracy when they adorned their weapons with the gemstone. Still today, the highest amount of demand for this stone is in the American Southwest.
(image courtesy of sunshine studio.com)
Turquoise is one of three gemstones (sharing the month with Zircon & Tanzanite) for the month of December in the United States.
Qualities of Turquoise:
Color/Clarity: Typically, turquoise can either be a pure sky blue color (aka Persian Blue), or have a spiderweb of veins in them. These veins are commonly known as "matrix." Some people see these veins as imperfections. We like to think that these veins add character to the stone and make each piece all the more unique.
Cut: Turquoise is usually cut into either beads or cabochons (a polished, but not faceted gem). Normally, those who cut turquoise try to work around large areas of matrix so they can produce pieces that are as pure of a blue as possible.