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Turquoise is a beautiful stone that appears in a stream of heavenly colors, from aqua blue to light azure green. It has a pure and uplifting energy, like clear waters in the most ideal natural setting.

The beauty of turquoise has been highly prized for centuries in various cultures, from Persian and Egyptian royalty to Native People in the Americas (North, Central, and South America).

Sadly, today turquoise is widely affected by either imitations or severe treatment. As the blue color of turquoise is so attractive (and healing), the market is flooded by turquoise jewelry and beads that are far from being genuine.

Turquoise is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. The stone has been long prized for its intense color, which varies from sky blue to a paler sky blue, to greenish-blue, or pale green, depending on the quantities of iron and copper within it. Like other gems, the richer color types are the most appreciated. The most preferred color is a strong sky blue. Pale greenish blue is less highly prized and the pale green variety even less so. Turquoise’s intense blue color is often modeled with veins of brown limonite or black manganese oxide. Turquoise with black veins is called “Spider web” turquoise. 

Its only important use is in the manufacture of jewelry and ornamental objects. However, in that use it is extremely popular – so popular that the English language uses the word “turquoise” as the name of a slightly greenish blue color that is typical for high-quality turquoise.

Very few minerals have a color that is so well known, so characteristic, and so impressive that the name of the mineral becomes so commonly used. Only three other minerals – gold, silver, and copper – have a color that is used more often in common language than turquoise.

Turquoise Characteristics

  • Hardness: 5 – 6
  • Color: Turquoise, blue, blue-green, green
  • Transparency: Opaque
  • Chemical composition: CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O
  • Crystal system: Triclinic
  • Crystal habit: Massive, nodular

History of Turquoise

Since the days of the ancient Egyptians, turquoise has been known throughout the world and has been in great demand. Turquoise was one of the first gemstones ever mined, perhaps dating back to 6000 BC, in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The name turquoise comes from the same French word, Turquoise, meaning Turkish, since it originally arrived in Europe through Turkey, originating in Iran. Turquoise has been mined in Iran for over 3,000 years. It has been used for thousands of years for jewelry by the Ancient Egyptians, who buried fine pieces with mummies. Aztecs fashioned elaborate turquoise masks. Today, Native Americans, especially the Zuni and Navajo peoples, produce the most renowned pieces in the US, such as turquoise and silver bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, pendants, brooches, and belt buckles. In the past, the stone was also used as beads in cameos, and irregular pieces were used for mosaics.

Sources of Turquoise

Laboratory-made turquoise has uniform color and no veins. The best quality turquoise still comes from Iran but in relatively small quantities. Turquoise occurs in a green variety in Tibet. It is also found in various colors in the Mojave Desert of California, the Cerrillos Hills near Santa Fe, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. Many of these deposits were mined centuries ago by Native Americans. Additional mines are in England, Australia, Siberia, France, Germany, Chile, Egypt, Tibet, Mexico, and China. There have been many beliefs in the virtues of turquoise by many different people throughout time and throughout the world. The Zuni people of New Mexico have created striking turquoise jewelry, believing these pieces protect them from demons. The Navajos believe the blue stones are magical pieces that fall from the sky. Apache warriors wore turquoise in the belief that it improved their hunting prowess. The stone’s color change was also once thought to indicate danger or illness.

Turquoise Enhancement

Enhancement is the closest treatment to purely natural and it is the least intrusive. A stone is electrochemically treated to improve its color and luster. No resins or dyes will be found here and it is almost impossible to tell the difference between natural and enhanced stones. Enhancement is a good term for this technique because it does not change the makeup of the stone. It simply brings out more color and improves the overall appearance.

This type of treatment was invented by James Zachery and is known as the Zachery Enhancement method. A second enhancement method was developed by Elven Jennings and is known as the Eljen treatment. While both of these techniques are very similar to each other, they are each proprietary to the developers. These techniques are closely guarded and the specifics are not commonly known outside of their respected businesses.

Benefits of Turquoise

Turquoise is a purification stone.  It dispels negative energy and can be worn to protect against outside influences or pollutants in the atmosphere.  Turquoise balances and aligns all the chakras, stabilising mood swings and instilling inner calm.  It is excellent for depression and exhaustion, it also has the power to prevent panic attacks.  Turquoise promotes self-realisation and assists creative problem solving.  It is a symbol of friendship, and stimulates romantic love.

Turquoise aids in the absorption of nutrients, enhances the immune system, stimulates the regeneration of tissue, and heals the whole body.  It contains anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects, and alleviates cramps and pain.  Turquoise purifies lungs, soothes and clears sore throats, and heals the eyes, including cataracts.  It neutralises overacidity, benefits rheumatism, gout, stomach problems, and viral infections.

Turquoise Care Instruction

It’s safe to clean turquoise jewelry with warm, soapy water, but it should never be cleaned with steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Some turquoise is treated to improve its surface appearance. Heat or solvents can damage the treated surfaces.