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Turquoise Gemstone Guide



For many of us, the turquoise color reminds us of the sea, the sky, or maybe our grandmother’s favorite jewelry. In other words, turquoise is both a color and a precious stone. However, it is this last item that we want to talk about today. Whether you like a turquoise ring, turquoise earrings, or even a lovely turquoise bracelet, you will find that turquoise stone is a very versatile material that has been used for centuries and made into a variety of beautiful creations all across the world.

What’s Unique about Turquoise?


One of the reasons why turquoise is so special is its lovely turquoise blue or slightly green color. Like opal and some other color stones, turquoise is formed deep in the earth, but it has a phosphate composition and gets its color from copper. Turquoise does not grow by itself, unlike quartz and many other minerals. Instead, it grows in cavities of other rocks primarily of volcanic origin. For this reason, most turquoise stones have darker spots called inclusions, many of which form lovely, veined patterns prized by jewelers and collectors.


As a December birthstone, the turquoise symbolizes good luck and prosperity. But even more importantly, this ancient gem can make any of us feel special. Because the stone is so fragile, we usually recommend turquoise jewelry be worn only occasionally. However, it is an attractive option not just for people born in December but also for lovers of ancient stones. In the rest of this article, we will talk about this mineral and how to select the best turquoise jewelry possible.


Turquoise Shapes and Sizes


One of the great things about turquoise stone is that you can make jewelry out of it using almost any shape. Turquoise jewelry made of free form or irregular shapes is a significant art form in the American southwest. Much turquoise jewelry uses oval-shaped cabochons, but rounds and navettes are also very popular. A cabochon is a cut and polished stone rather than a faceted one. This is especially appropriate because turquoise is opaque and rarely forms turquoise crystals. The only exception is very tiny crystals found in Virginia.


Strictly speaking, there is little difference in value per carat between small and large stones. One reason is that turquoise grows in large lumps and is rarely cut into a single stone. In addition, there is very little difference between one cut shape and another. Besides cabochons, turquoise is cut into beads, including nuggets and finished shapes. These beads are a common way to make a turquoise necklace. You can get beads and cabochons in almost any size, including very good-quality large ones.


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Turquoise Colors and Clarity


As mentioned above, turquoise comes primarily in blues and greens. Strictly speaking, the most valuable color of turquoise is Robin’s egg or sky blue. We often refer to this as Persian blue or Sleeping Beauty color. However, you can also get turquoise stone in a lovely bluish green. Chinese deposits aren't the most famous for this blue-green color which can sometimes even take on a yellow tinge. Purple-blue turquoise is rare and indicates the presence of strontium. Purple turquoise is very rarely used for turquoise jewelry.


Because clarity isn’t an issue with turquoise, the purity of color and the presence of veining help determine the price. In particular, a stone with an even tone is more valuable than one with color zoning. However, pieces with veining are often prized: Some turquoise jewelry even showcases the uniqueness of a particular stone.


Turquoise Sourcing


Turquoise is a stone that has been prized for centuries. The turquoise background includes carvings from Central America, beads found with ancient Egyptian mummies, and many Native American pieces in North America. In addition, some of the most prized turquoises have long come from modern-day Iran.


The fact that turquoise has fascinated so many cultures is also a testament to how many places you can mine. Turquoise is a relatively common ornamental material, and it is found in sites all over the world. Traditionally, the most significant deposits have been in North America, Egypt, Persia, and modern-day China, including Tibet. For Europeans, the finest turquoise has come from Persia. Still, Egyptian turquoise has long been famous in the Mediterranean. These days, most turquoise comes from North America, and China is the finest material still hailing from Iran.


Turquoise Treatments and Certification


Unlike many valuable gems, turquoise is rarely certified by a lab. However, that isn't to say there's no way to tell a stone’s value. The more desirable the color, the more expensive it will be. However, you must be careful to know if and how turquoise has been treated.


For turquoise, there are several treatment methods. In fine jewelry, the most common form is stabilization. This involves adding epoxy or resin to the top of the turquoise stone. This is done to keep the color from fading and to protect the stone from scratches after being made into turquoise jewelry. This is a good idea if you want a turquoise wedding ring because of its increased durability.


Another treatment type is dyed turquoise. With dyed turquoise, color is added to chalky pale turquoise before it is stabilized. This turquoise is less valuable than stabilized because it is less natural. However, it is pretty durable for a turquoise engagement ring.


Finally, there is reconstituted turquoise. This material is poor-quality turquoise that has been ground, mixed with dyes and resins, and formed into cabochons. Typically, this is the market's least expensive form of natural turquoise. As a result, pieces made with reconstituted turquoise are usually inexpensive.


Telling the difference between turquoise treatment types can be difficult. However, a good rule of thumb is that if the stone is cheap, it is less likely to be high-quality. If you see a very high-priced piece of turquoise is a very subtle color, there's a much higher chance that it is natural. However, stabilized and dyed turquoise is much more common. This is especially true of pieces with a very even tone. On the other hand, a part of natural turquoise with a lovely veining well is usually cut for jewelry or collectors without treatment. Your best defense against fraud is purchasing turquoise jewelry from a reputable company.


Turquoise Buying Guide


Because there is no standard grading system for turquoise, our alternate advice is to choose something you love. However, as we discussed above, the price will give you a real sense of whether or not you have a high-quality piece. With that in mind, here are some buying tips:


• Never buy something that you can't afford. Instead, find something enjoyable that meets your budget.


• Select an excellent shape and size. In other words, if you like a big stone, you should consider getting it. But if you want something more subtle, consider small turquoise pieces. Keep in mind that you can get turquoise jewelry that has a large number of small stones. This has been popular throughout history. Also, pick a shape that will compliment you or the wearer nicely.


• Choose something of high quality. Because turquoise is an inexpensive stone, you can often get larger, high-quality jewelry for the same price or even less than jewelry made with different materials. The most important thing is good workmanship. To reduce the cost of a piece, consider growing with a stone with many matrices or one made out of sterling silver.


• Finally, decide if you're comfortable buying online. Companies with clarity have immensely customer-friendly return policies if you don't like them. On the other hand, some people refer to turquoise jewelry in person. There's a good chance you will do that anyway if you travel to the American southwest Terry.


Turquoise is a lovely stone that’s relatively inexpensive. You can often get big, bold jewelry at a wallet-friendly price. In addition, turquoise jewelry comes in a wide variety of styles that can appeal to almost anyone.


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