Turquoise: Universal Symbol of the Great Southwest
What Is Turquoise?
Turquoise is one of the most recognized symbols of the American Southwest and the people who have inhabited this region for many centuries. Most indigenous peoples around the world have referred to turquoise as the sky-stone, believing that the blue rock they discovered on earth had fallen from the heavens of the gods above.
Today, mineralogists say that the blue and green turquoise colors are determined by how much copper (blue) and iron (green) content are within the turquoise formation.
Turquoise is the official gem stone for both New Mexico and Arizona and is the birthstone for December.
Turquoise Shopping Tips
When buying turquoise, there are many things to take into consideration: color or combination of colors and the type of matrix or lack thereof. The deepest colors are the most rare and the fine, spiderlike matrix is the least common.
Many people purchase turquoise that is mined from a particular area. Bisbee turquoise is from Arizona, while Number Eight is from a mine in Nevada. Tyrone turquoise is from New Mexico, as is the highly-prized green colored Cerrillos turquoise. There are over 100 named turquoise mines around the world. Many mines are named after a nearby town, such as Kingman (Arizona) or the above-mentioned Cerrillos. Others are named after the miners themselves, like McGinnis or Godber.
Types of Turquoise
There are five types of turquoise, as described by law. All turquoise for sale worldwide will fall into one of the following categories:
This is that is so hard and beautiful that is able to be mined, cut, polished and set into pieces of turquoise jewelry without any kind of treatment. Less than 3% of all the turquoise on the market worldwide is classified as natural.
This is a soft, chalky turquoise that has been injected with a clear epoxy resin. The resin, under pressure, is absorbed into the rock, permanently hardening it and deepening the color. The colors in stabilized turquoise are permanent and will not deepen over time, like natural turquoise. Most of the turquoise on the market today is the stabilized type. It is quite beautiful and is usually a very good value.
This type of turquoise is soft and has been stabilized, but the epoxy resin has also been dyed. Colors in treated turquoise can sometimes look artificial. Prices for this kind of turquoise should be much less than the natural and stabilized varieties.
This turquoise is very low grade. It has been ground into powder, saturated with epoxy resin, dyed, and compressed into blocks and/or cakes. It is then cut into shapes for jewelry making. This is the least expensive type of turquoise.
This is not real turquoise, but is made from resin or plastic. Sometimes it hard to tell the difference visually, so its always best to ask before you buy.
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