Turquoise Gemstones - Holy stones in many cultures
In the world of jewelry, the color blue is highly regarded and the gemstones that have these color are quite precious. Although the turquoise is a stone that has a long history, it is still as fashionable today as it was then.
For thousands of years, this is a gemstone that has been highly esteemed in many cultures of today and yesteryear. It has been regarded as a holy stone, which brings forth good luck. This is one of the reasons why it is called a gemstone of the people. In Egypt, there were archeological finds of graves which had turquoise furnishings within them, and some of these have been dated from as far back as 3000 BC. For protection against an unnatural death, ancient Persians used to wear turquoise on their necks and arms; if the color of the stone changed, then the wearer was said to have been warned, and should therefore exercise great caution in whatever he does, or where he goes. However, today, people know that turquoise can change color, although not as a sign of danger but because of the angle and type of light, and also any chemical reaction. These reactions can be brought about by the dust in the air, acidity of the skin, or the cosmetics that one wears.
Turquoise: Joie de vivre and protection rolled into one
It was believed that wearing turquoise would even bring material wealth to the wearer. According to a Persian scholar known as Al-Qazwini, said that the hand that wore a turquoise and marked their seal with it, would never see any form of poverty. It was therefore common to see people wearing turquoise on their turbans, which was almost always surrounded by pearls. This was said to protect the wearer from falling under the effect of the evil eye. The turquoise was also used as a talisman on sabers, daggers, and horse bridles. After the Europeans started crusades into Asia, the turquoise finally entered into the European markets, and the name turquoise was coined, because it meant Turkish.
In the Americas, the turquoise also enjoyed a prominent position among many gemstones; all through the North, South and Central America, the ancient civilizations truly worshipped this marvelous gemstone. In Mexico, the Aztecs used to wear turquoise on their ceremonial masks since they believed that the stone had holy properties, Today, the Indians of North America still make jewelry using silver and turquoise, and they still do believe that the sky blue color is the one that opens up a direct connection between the sea and the sky.
For many civilizations, the turquoise was used as a way of protecting oneself against the powers of evil. In those earliest times, the stone was said to protect horses and their riders from unexpected spills, and today, they are revered as protective stones for air crews, pilots and any other person who works in a world environment that is deemed to be highly risky.
Modern gemstone therapy practitioners tell all those who are suffering from depression to wear a turquoise ring, or try and wear a chain of turquoise beads. The cheerful and amazing color of turquoise is said to give cagey and untrusting people personalities that are more comfortable and confident when in the presence of others. This is also viewed as a stone of friendship, and it is said to bring about faithfulness and a stability in relationships that is lasting.
Where the turquoise gemstone gets its magnificent colors
Turquoise is classified as copper aluminum phosphate, and it has a hardness of about 6, which is quite low when compared to quartz. It seems that nature has a liking for blue and green, and this is why turquoise occurs in places where there is copper in the soil. Turquoise is only considered to be at its best quality when the color seems pale, or has a blue-green or green tint.
Copper is the minerals that is responsible for the blue color of turquoise. The green color is caused by the presence of iron and sometimes the presence of chrome. Turquoise has veins and smudges which run through the structure, and these are light grey, blacks or brown in color. The color depends on where it is found. These blotches are also called the turquoise matrix, and they are more or less regular throughout the structure of the stone. It is impossible for one to see the turquoise crystals through the naked eye, and they can only be seen through a microscope. It is only natural for turquoise to form in the veins and cavities of rocks, but they can also form into nuggets. Most of the world’s turquoise comes from deposits found in Mexico, Iran, Israel, China, Afghanistan and USA. The most notable turquoise stones in the world come from the northern part of Iran.
As a rule, turquoise is hardly cut into facets, because it is soft, and it is usually cut into beads or cabochons; there are other imaginative shapes that are also used.
Waxing is great for the turquoise gemstones
Turquoise is sensitive because it is relatively soft; the color will pale after the stone has been worn for extended periods. However, with wax, the structures of the stone is hardened and some high quality turquoise stones are given this treatment to make them retain their beauty longer. The gemstone is made more durable by the presence of wax. Today, jewelers are also known to use resin to make the turquoise last linger and stay beautiful. They are sometimes put inside a dye which gives them certain different colors. Once the stone has been treated in this way, the rules of the ICA dictate that the jeweler has to tell any prospective buyer that the stone has been altered. When turquoise is pulverized and then reconstructed, then it is referred to as reconstructed turquoise.
It is because of their soft nature that most turquoise gemstones have to be treated in one way or another. There are many different forms of treatments; turquoise stones which have only been subjected to a coat of resin or wax are more valuable than those which have had their color improved. It is therefore important that you go to a reputable jeweler when you want to buy turquoise jewels or gemstones.
The purity of turquoise gems
With or without the regular matrix, the most highly esteemed turquoise gemstones are those that have a pure and bright sky blue color. When the color started moving towards green, and also increases in the number of blotches on the surface, and these blotches have a more irregular pattern, then the lower the quality of the stone. It is important that all turquoise stones be protected from exposure to heat, bright light and cosmetics. You do not go with a turquoise gemstone to the beach and lie down in the sun with it. You should also clean the gemstone occasionally using a soft cloth.
The sky blue color of turquoise is said to bring about feelings of good cheer and happiness; the green color also brings about the deep green that you see in the ocean and these two colors can bring about feeling of happiness and wonder. Since these colors cannot be imitated easily, they have got their own name, and that is simply “turquoise”. They say that anyone having a turquoise stone will enjoy the peace of heaven, due to the blue color, and earth, due to the green.
The pricing history of turquoise
The Sky blue turquoise was very important to ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and Egyptians, and it has kno0wn better times than it is getting in some parts of the world today.
The late 1960s was perhaps the most illustrious period for the turquoise when social awareness was the in-thing on the United States and fashion trends are the ones that determined the social standing of en individual. At the time, jewelry believed to have been made by Native Americans was the rave of the fashion jewelry world; turquoise was the gems that was most associated with this jewelry.
However, this popularity of turquoise was short-lived. Very soon, jewelers and fashion houses began making the so-called Native American jewelry in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the so-called Native that was used was usually coated in plastic, or totally plastic made to mimic turquoise. This is when the popularity of turquoise went down the drain. Similarly, one of the major tribes in the Southwest was found to be mass-producing turquoise jewelry in some Asian countries and then passing it off as the genuine thing made in America.
The reputation of turquoise was devastated by this and its link to centuries of masterful artisanry and jewelry, and being used in conjunction with amber and ivory was tarnished. However, despite the gemstone being subjected to such scandals, there were other people who traded lucratively in the original items. According to a turquoise specialist, the prices of the gemstone in Iran were known to be as high as $2,000 for a piece that had the dimensions of 15X20 mm, in the year 1976. This was about 3 years before the rule of the Shah was brought down.
Today, it is not known whether the price of a fine piece of turquoise could ever fetch that kind of price, unless it was proven to have been a price of antique jewelry which has a history, for example, a fine Islamic ring dated around 1200 could be very pricey. It is a sad thing but there has been extensive sullying of the reputation of this gemstone, and there has been a widespread trade in fake turquoise, and this has made the public not to trust any jewel made from the stone. However, despite this terrible time in history, this sky blue gem is once more coming to the limelight as fashion trends change.
Arizona is the new Persia
The Southwest part of the United States of America is regarded as being the largest producer of turquoise in the world. However whenever a jeweler, dealer or buyer thinks about the gem, they automatically think of the origins of the stone. This is why people think about Iran and Persia when they start talking about turquoise. For several centuries, Persia has been through of as the premier supplier of turquoise; remember that the name turquoise simply means Turkish and this was given due to the fact that all turquoise that entered Europe was brought through Turkey.
However, when it comes to the oldest deposits of the gemstone, Egypt carries the crown. There have been stone deposits that could have been mined in as early as 2000 BC. It is said that the turquoise grades in ancient Egypt were very poor and the artisans had to come up with a substitute which they called faience. This was a mixture of quartz paste, which was then fashioned into the shape of turquoise and then glazed with dyes of a sky-blue color, before being baked in ovens to harden the resultant stone.
It is because of the poor quality of the turquoise that was mined in Egypt’s Sinai that very few collectors recognize that this was where it was initially mine for any decorative purposes. Connoisseurs of turquoise believe that the earliest stones were found in Ancient Persia, and this is why the turquoise that comes from this region is highly priced. There are also those who are purists and will not accept any turquoise unless it is from Persia. Today, the finest form of turquoise is usually called Persian, and this refers mainly to the quality and color of the stone and not where it came from. It is safe to say that the mines in Iran do not produce significant quantities of turquoise and that any which is sold in Persia today, may actually have come from Arizona. This is something that many dealers in the USA know.
For most people, the fact that this gem has undergone so many scandals, is simply a story, and they do not believe in the authenticity of the claims. However, American turquoise is said to have its own great, but less known heritage. It is not by coincidence that the Americans honored the Native American jewelry and it was heralded throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as the fashion item to be seen wearing.
Mexican turquoise was actually valuable
When it came to Native American jewelry, only three main tribes were associated with it, and these were the Zuni, Pueblo and Navajo. It is said that the adoration of turquoise and the use in this area went back several centuries, when New Mexico, a significant United States turquoise source was part of the Aztec civilization in Mexico, which was said to have lived here between the years 1300 and 1520 AD.
The Aztecs regarded turquoise more highly than gold, and it was used as the main form of decoration. Even when the Spaniards came and destroyed the Aztec empire, this gem was still held in high regards by the Indian tribes and even if the Spaniards tried to confiscate any traces of the stone.
To the Pueblo Indians, the turquoise is a sign of political liberation, even if not many people know that today. For more than a century, the people of the tribe were made to work in the open-pit and underground mines, against their will so the turquoise could be sent to Spain. It was in 1980 that a major cave-in killed so many workers, that the rest of the Indians refused to work there anymore. They went ahead and rebelled and this drove the Spaniards away from their home.
The victories over what is nowadays called Imperialism, could have gone a long way in determining the value of ownership of turquoise items, back in the Vietnam Era. Turquoise is a gemstone that has deep roots in the political history of Mexico and the United States of America, and this is still being ignored to this very day.
Today, some owners of turquoise gems consider the atone to have alienated people from their past and it is this that makes them shun the Native American turquoise and instead look towards the East and buy the Persian variety. Those who defend the gemstone from Arizona usually say that preference should be given based on the aesthetics if the stone and not the history.
The best turquoise color is sky blue
When talking about what the best color of turquoise is, most aficionados will say that the sky blue color is the best. Manufacturers are never willing to spend money on the oval, round and pear cabochons they buy. They will spend a little money on the gem and they will look for medium sky blue colors, and on occasion they will get the deep blue azure colors that the experts value so much.
When you consider how much the prices of high-grade natural turquoise have fallen, then it is no wonder that the market for treated turquoise is almost non-existent. This is a market that has been around for centuries, since the faience imitations of Egypt. However it was justified to have imitations at that time, since the gem was not well exploited and therefore quite rare and valuable.
The late 19th century saw the prices of turquoise fall drastically, and the tricks that were used to imitate this gem made the situation even worse. George Kunz, the influential and popular American gemologist cased quite a stir when he named the infamous “Berlin Blue” technique for dyeing turquoise, in the year 1900. However, this did not deter those who were diehard deceits.
The turquoise market today is still being threatened by the presence of better and fine ways of imitating the gem. It is understandable for natural turquoise to be polymerized, given that it is a very soft stone, and it is porous. However it is not understandable for materials to be made in the lab, which only have about 5 percent of the natural mineral in them, while the rest is all synthetic, and then it is passed off as the real thing. There is a lot of natural turquoise available and people should shun these cheap imitations, and restore the glory of this market.
There is a rare and luxurious turquoise variety that is very valuable and it is found in the Himalayas. One of the areas where the gem is found is the Lhasa area, and it is said to have the biggest deposits there. The other areas are Draya, Derge and Ngari-Khorsum.
The formation of turquoise is characterized by the flowing of water through rocks which have aluminum, and also the presence of copper. It is the intense environment that you find in the Himalayas underground, over the millions of years past that have brought such a fantastic color to this rare gem. This is a turquoise variety that has a distinct blue-green tint, and this is why it is sought after, because most other stones from the rest of the world have a leaning towards the blue colors.
When it comes to color, this turquoise variety has a great balance between the sharp greens seen in the Copper Turquoise and the blues of the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise collections. This is a variety that is so serene and calming, that it has been held in high esteem by the people who live in the areas where this rare gem is mined, and also the rest of the gem community.
In this part of the world, you will find turquoise colors in almost everything that you see. The people of Tibet and Nepal usually dye their clothes to resemble that of the colors of the waters of the mountain lakes. This is a gem and a color that is part of the heritage of these people and they love it that way.
The Tibetan and Nepalese people have held the Tibetan turquoise as a prized and precious item that is not only lived for its beauty but also for the spirituality that it is said to have. Each piece is unique and has a patter and color like no other piece; each matrix comes out through the finished pieces giving them a life of their own. One of the reasons why this variety is so precious is this unique pattern which is said to have been carved on every stone by Mother Nature.
Anybody who has lived in the Himalayas has been given, or has held a piece of this rare turquoise variety. This is a spiritual stone for most of them and it is rare to come across a household that does not own a piece. It is said that the so-called Sky Stone, was brought down from heaven for a reason. This is a stone that has been valued by this culture since the year 1,000 BC. When two people love one another, they usually give each other this gemstone as a sign of their mutual affection; the stone is said to protect both of them and give them happiness in their relationship.
In the early years of their lives, all Tibetan children will be given a piece of Tibetan turquoise jewelry, which is said to give protection to the kids so they do not fall down. Now, when you consider that the villages are sometimes very high up in the mountain, the fear of falling is very real, because a fall could easily lead to death. These children will get a new and bigger piece as they grow up, and getting a piece that is clean and pure can be a pursuit that these children will carry on for the rest of their lives. This kind of dedication to this gem shows you how important the stone is to this culture.
This culture also believes that the wealth of the family, and their health too will be protected by this gemstone; it was usually crushed into a fine powder when they had to use it for medicinal purposes. These people believe that the porous nature of the gemstone allows it to absorb a lot from the environment, and it is said that it can take on a personality of its own. The people believe that the stone will lose some of its color, and turn towards a pale green color, as the owner ages, and when it is bequeathed to a younger person, it will once again regain its vitality and color.
These beliefs have led the Tibetan and Nepalese people to hold this stone in very high esteem, and this gem has trickled down to the gem community, who also value the turquoise from this area. This is a gem that the people here treat as a part of the family, and an important part of their day to day lives. Sanskrit has written in journals about the medicinal uses of Tibetan turquoise.
The Nepalese and Tibetan villagers, apart from making these very personal pieces of turquoise jewelry, Will use it to decorate their homes and other items. They add the gem to prayer wheels, musical instruments, household items, vases, and even place them in pouches which they wear around their necks. Since no two gems are alike, each of them is regarded as a separate individual and quite distinct from any of the others. This is probably why this gemstone is really making its mark in the world of gems.
When looking for fine turquoise gems, you need to know that the piece comes from a region where the quality is high. You should also deal with respected jewelers and dealers who will not sell you a counterfeit item. Know the full peace and tranquility that is associated with this fine gemstone.