Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love Affair with Turquoise

I absolutely love Turquoise, especially the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise from Arizona. I found this article about Turquoise at Magpie Gemstones that I think will help anyone shopping for Turquoise. I hope you will take the time to visit her website to see her gemstones. I am sure you will find just what you are looking for; I know I did; I found my beloved Sleeping Beauty Turquoise.

I love this article and I hope you find it useful too.

Learn About Turquoise
Where do I learn about Turquoise?

I will start with North American Turquoise.
It is the most expensive turquoise available and usually sells by the carat if it is medium to high grade material.If I see a strand of beads being sold as North American turquoise and the price is under a couple hundred dollars, I become very suspect of the true origin of the turquoise. There is turquoise mined in China that is similar in color to some of the North American mines that some vendors attempt to pass off as turquoise from the US.
When a stone is made into a bead, there is a lot of loss shaping the bead, so normally, the better quality material is not made into beads. The medium to low grade turquoise is stabilized and usually color shot too. This is the turquoise they threw away back in the 1960's and early 70's. Only about 5% of all turquoise mined is considered gem grade material, that is is both hard enough to work into cabochons and the color is good too. The rest is medium to low grade material.

The way turquoise is graded in the states is like this.
Natural turquoise: untreated, high grade gem quality used mainly in cabochons, and very upscale jewelry design.
Stabilized turquoise: medium grade turquoise that has resin added, usually under pressure, to make the material hard enough to work into beads.
Stabilized and color shot: medium to low grade turquoise that is both stabilized and color shot to enhance the color.
Reconstituted: the powder is swept up, mixed with resin and formed into beads.
Block: material that has been stabilized, color shot and pressed into blocks to make into beads.
That is the basics of turquoise in a very general way.

For the past few years, there is all kinds of dyed blue, white, pink, orange, red, etc., stone coming out of China that is labelled as stabilized turquoise. Some of it has copper or black colored lines (fake matrix) on the surface of it. Most of this product is dyed magnesite or something of that sort. Not turquoise at all. There was a big problem in Tucson at the gem and mineral show around this stuff 2 years ago as many Chinese vendors were passing that stuff off as turquoise. It was tested and this year many vendors were required to fully disclose the product.
Another thing they are doing from China is calling turquoise that has been clear stabilized as natural turquoise. According to the standards in this country, it is not natural turquoise, but clear stabilized. It is nice turquoise and affordable, yet it is not natural. The Ma'anshan AB nuggets in the stores are from China. Szarka has been dealing with this vendor for the past 10 years. This is low grade mine run that is color shot and stabilized. It is very affordable and she's sold literally a ton of it. The larger oval nuggets are mainly Hubei from China, most being clear stabilized. Nice for the price.
Magpie does sell some faux turquoise in white, or sometimes in blue too, and it is identified as dyed magnesite , or wannabe turquoise. If you google turquoise mines, American turquoise, turquoise treatments, etc., you will come up with more info than you can imagine. The information is out there. I hope this helps a bit.

One of Magpies' customer,s emailed her these questions that I think will interest the reader along with Magpies' answers. I have left off the customers name, because she does not give a website or a link of any kind to link back to.

"There is one area that continues to interest me........... Are the different colours of sky blue, green blue and very green just that...........various colours , some of which are preferred by individuals, or are there quality differences based on colour?"
Ok, lets approach this one answer at a time.
Yes, the various colors are preferred by individuals and within this there are quality preferences based on color. Turquoise is one of the gemstones that seems to attach itself emotionally to a person (or the other way around) so the individual preferences vary from all the blues to all the greens.

Some areas of the world do have regional preferences. The Southwestern United States seems to lean towards a popping blue with black matrix as turquoise that was very popular in the past was blue with black webbing, or matrix. There isn't that much of this turquoise around these days so black rouge or even black shoe polish is sometimes used to make the turquoise appear to have black webbing. Persians I do believe prefer the clearest of the blues, and China values the clear blue over others.
Also, within the same mining operation, sometimes within the same vein, both greens and blues will be found. The blue is the copper, and greens are molecules of zinc or iron..

"Same query as it relates to the black veining preferred, or is the 'pure' or non-marred versions considered more valuable?"I touched on this above with Southwestern preferences. Persians used to value clear over webbed, as well as China.

The most expensive turquoise I know of is Old Lander which sells for hundreds of dollars per carat. The rarity of Old Lander (less than 100 pounds mined) and its beauty make it a valuable collectable turquoise and has webbing or matrix. The pictures that I have seen of it does anyway. I have not held Old Lander in my hand.

"And lastly, is there ever a genuine white turquoise, or is it always some other 'massaged' gem? The other colours purported to be, orange, etc., are these genuine, or does turquoise always stay in the blue green family?"I have personally never seen white turquoise. I have seen something reputed to be white turquoise offered for sale a few years ago. I did research and the majority says no such thing yet there are a few folks out there who say there is.There is much debate in the turquoise world whether some specimens are turquoise or something else. A lab analysis of the questionable material would identify the stone properly.

As far as the pinks, purples, reds, mosaics, and oranges go, I know of no turquoise coming out of the earth in those colors. I do know of one North American processor that does stabilize and dye load grade mine run in various colors. I also know these are more than a few bucks a strand too!
Almost everything I have seen is dyed magnesite and sometimes howlite.
There is a turquoise from China that is yellow/brown.

To sum this up, turquoise is emotional and every individual will have their personal tastes. I like all turquoise, from the eye popping green of Orvil Jack to the whispey purple smoke of some Lavender Bisbee to electric blue or webbed from China, or sky blue from Persia.

I hope dear reader that you found this article as useful as I did. Please go visit Magpie Gemstones you'll be glad you did.


  1. Hi, thanks for this very informative article. Turquoise like you said is a very special gem. It has mythical properties the world over from luck to prosperity to protection. At silver state turquoise we recognize this and make our Otteson turquoise jewelry accordingly. Come check us out!

  2. Thank you Jon for visiting and I really enjoyed visiting your website silver state turquoise. You have some very beautiful turquoise and handmade jewelry. I do hope you will visit me again. I do hope to have my website,, up and running near the end of July, so I do hope you will look me up and let me know what you think.


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