Overview: Turquoise Stone
With blue-green to striking sky blue colors, turquoise has been treasured by cultures worldwide for more than 5,000 years. These days, the traditional birthstone of December is favored by known modern-day jewelry designers in addition to aficionados of Native American and America Southwestern jewelry.
As far as value is concerned, color saturation and evenness are the main considerations. Also, this stone’s ability to take a good polish without stabilization is a critical factor.
Usually, less green tint in blue shades and darker hues add more value to these stones. Enthusiasts who like matrix patterns, of course, would consider their beautiful appearance important to determining their value. The spiderweb version, which is veined with black matrix within a pattern that appears like crocheted lace, is very popular.
This stone’s highest grades are used for inlay, carvings, and cabochons. Lower grades are utilized as “nugget-style,” natural beads, or polished beads.
This gemstone appreciates an avid collector marketplace, with rivalries among the numerous enthusiasts who notice virtue in various matrix variations, mine sites, and colors. Just as no gemstone collection would be fully complete without multiple representatives of this species, no collection of jewelry ought to be without, at the minimum of, one piece that features this traditional, beloved December birthstone. (Also, it’s the birthstone for people born on Saturday).
Turquoise is a true gemstone bargain. Even the extremely highest material grades are modestly priced, as compared with many other types of gemstones.
It has stood up to the vicissitudes of fashion, in addition to the passage of millennia. As far back as 3,000 BCE, the Ancient Egyptians worked and mined the gem into ceremonial objects and jewelry. Later on, the Ancient American and Chinese cultures did the exact same. Iran (Persia) introduced Medieval Europe to the gemstone. The stone has inspired many folkloric beliefs and legends and remains a highly desired material for decorative objects and jewelry.
Even though the practice of setting these gems in silver has a lengthy tradition in the U.S., jewelers used to set the stones in gold, occasionally with diamonds, in Iran as well as the Middle East. There are even Turquoise watches though they are somewhat hard to find. The most rare woudl be a turquoise mens watch.
In the Victorian Age, it was admired greatly and also commonly set in gold. An increasing number of jewelry designers nowadays are emulating the Victorians and Persians and are setting pieces in gold.
Even though they have some physical limits as jewelry stones, with the right care, treatment, and cutting, they’ll make amazing additions to one of your collections.
Turquoise: What is it?
Chemically, it’s a hydrated aluminum phosphate/copper of cryptocrystalline aggregate structure. Only one deposit is well-known to generate transparent to translucent crystals: Lynch Station, VA. (Specimens from there bring a huge price from collectors and are rare). The stone usually occurs as an opaque deposit in veins within host rocks, in nodules, or as shallow crusts on a rock’s surface. Massive ones are always opaque.
Faustite, the zinc analogue of this gemstone, has an intense yellowish-green color, as well as a density inside the gemstone’s range. Plus, it may form in series with the minerals chalcosiderite and planerite. Sometimes, chrysocolla and malachite might also grow together in stones with this gem.
Shades range from hues of blue to bluish-green to yellow-green, depending on the number of trace elements. Iron adds yellow, Vanadium and chromium add green. Copper adds blue. There are rare blue-violet color specimens containing strontium impurities. Generally, mines in the U.S. produce somewhat green-blue to green gemstones due to their high content of vanadium and iron.
Historically, and even today, the most admired gemstones are the ones that have a celestial blue or a fine robin’s egg color without any visible matrix. This color, occasionally referred to as “Persian grade,” is a sign of the presence of no iron and little vanadium. Iran still generates turquoises of this type. But the United States has generated similar stones, especially in the Sleeping Beauty Mine close to Globe, AZ.
Does This Gem’s Matrix Patterns Impact Durability?
The majority of rough contains veins or patches of the host rock where formed, like opal, chalcedony, black chert, white kaolinite, or brown limonite. Lapidaries usually cut this black or brownish matrix along with this stone to offer color patterns and contrast.
That matrix may impact the stone’s workability, toughness, and color. Relatively pure variants may have a hardness of approximately 5 and be moderately porous.
High proportions of silicate minerals generally increase hardness and decrease porosity, whereas a high content of clay mineral has the exact opposite effect. On one part of the spectrum, we see pieces of hardness 5.5 - 6 that are minimally porous and take a bright polish. On the opposite end, we see pieces of a chalky and soft nature so porous they aren’t usable without stabilization.
Simulants and Synthetics
The synthetic version is available, without or with matrix. The Pierre Gilson Co. developed the most well-known kind in 1972. It might resemble the finest Persian-grade gemstone; however, a microscope can reveal the difference. Natural gemstones have smooth surfaces. The synthetics, under magnification, show a mixture of small blue spheres within a light-colored host medium, resembling a “cream of wheat” texture.
There are several simulants available on the market. Non-mineral imitations involve ceramics, glass, and plastics and may look very realistic.
Some natural stones may be mistaken for this gem. Variscite may appear like a green version of this gem. As a matter of fact, turquoise and variscites occasionally occur together inside rocks, dubbed “variquoise.” That appealing mixture of colors and patterns will command a premium price. Proposite, particularly the Mexican version with its light-blue hue, is another possible simulant.
The stone may have a unique absorption spectrum that has lines at 4320 and 4600 (vague). Usually, these are witnessed in light reflected from the surface of the stone.
The SG (specific gravity) of stones from other sources varies. There is a bit of overlap, but some of the measurements at the extreme parts may assist in identifying sources.
- Bahia, Brazil: 2.40 to 2.65
- Tibet: 2.72
- Sinai Peninsula, Egypt: 2.81
- Eilat, Israel: 2.56 to 2.70
- China: 2.70
- U.S.: 2.6 to 2.7
- Iran: 2.75 to 2.85
For this stone, there are a number of enhancements. They are extremely challenging to detect without in-depth knowledge and the proper testing equipment. Usually, pale specimens obtain extensive treatments that improve their color. Compact and fine-grained material that takes a good polish is rare. Cosmetic residues and skin oils easily can darken the shade of these gems. For those reasons, the majority of stones available on the market were enhanced in one way or the other. Even top-grade, otherwise natural stones, frequently receive a paraffin wax surface coat to enhance the polish and seal them. Of course a bright and shiny watch dial for turquoise mens watch would look the most appealing.
All but the highest gem grades can be “stabilized” by a pressure infusion of epoxy resin or wax. Sometimes, porous, small pieces are pressed together using a resin binder to create a stabilized mosaic. But whether a gemstone was stabilized isn’t always obvious.
A process of electro-chemical proprietary enhancement referred to as the “Zachery Treatment” was promoted as an alternative to stabilization used in the past that improves both evenness of color and durability.
The gem itself is not dyed that often. But a grey-veined and white mineral, howlite, will readily accept dye. Oftentimes, blue-dyed howlites make their way to the market. They do not always have “faux turquoise” labels, unfortunately.
Also, dyed magnesite may look like this stone. Recently, this material gained popularity as a simulant. It’s acceptable if it’s correctly disclosed. But if it isn’t, buyer beware!
Beware of the yellow version of this gem imported from China, too. Some gemstones do actually have a naturally light yellowish-green hue. But vendors provide some butter-yellow dyed or extremely bright sunshine pieces without a lot of effort to differentiate them from the non-dyed ones.
- Surface coating w/ epoxy, lacquer, and so on: seals dye, improves color, stability varies, rare. Detect w/ magnification.
- Epoxy backing: common, adds weight and strength, might separate. Detected by sight.
- Dyeing w/ shoe polish: stable except to acetone, common, enhances webbing. Detected by wiping w/ acetone.
- Epoxy impregnation: slightly improves color, able to accept a polish, makes porous material stronger, stable, common. Detected w/ magnification.
- Wax impregnation: common, improves color, might pick up discolor and dirt. Detected w/ magnification, hot point.
- Plastic impregnation, occasionally w/ dye: improves color and durability, stable, common. Detected w/ low specific gravity, magnification, hot point.
Note: dye and hot point tests are destructive. Only perform them as a last resort for the purpose of identification.
Typically, turquoise occurs in arid spots, in which groundwater filters gradually through aluminous rock within the area of copper deposits. As with opal, malachite, and azurite, it is a secondary mineral forming through pre-existing mineral interaction, as well as their solutions. Most of today’s commerce in this gem is mainly from China and North America.
Connoisseurs are able to tell the mine of origin of many cut stones because of distinct nuances in matrix and color. There is enormous variation in those characteristics. The most beautiful woudl be used in jewelry including turquoise watches.
Three Things It’s Used For
In our more modern-day world, it’s synonymous with Native American culture. The Zunis and Navajos use it frequently to curate gorgeous talismans, amulets, rings, pendants, belt buckles, bracelets, and wristwatches.
The stones are porous, relatively fragile, and prone to chemical and/or heat damage. Gemstones average 18 to 20 percent water content. Once heated, from a thoughtless jeweler’s torch, for instance, that water gets progressively lost until, at 400 degrees Celcius, the mineral’s structural integrity is destroyed.
Because of the stone’s properties, it is recommended to reserve turquoise jewelry for periodic wear. Protect it from shocks, chemicals, and heat, and make use of protective settings, particularly for ring use.
Do not use mechanical cleaning techniques, like steam or ultrasonic cleaning. Don’t clean the porous material using cleaning solutions, detergents, or soap. Wipe using a damp cloth, and then immediately wipe dry. In addition, after wearing, wipe pieces using a damp cloth. With a turquoise watch no cleaning is required since it is sealed inside the watch.
Choose a piece of this stone’s jewelry and bring along the tools of communication and compassion wherever you travel. Necklaces place the gemstone in the middle of the throat chakra, whereby bracelets with this stone keep those lovely and low vibrations humming against your pulse. Having the gemstone right against your skin is the ideal method of making its power flourish into being. The ones searching for the finest healing vibes are going to discover that healing stones against their skin are going to bring the most benefit into their world.
Gemstones making a great match for this stone include all of those incredible third eye chakra gemstones and all of those that come along with cleansing water energy. Labradorite and Lapis Lazuli are both gemstones that also suit the moods of this stone. Lapis Lazuli is notorious for being a gemstone of deep truth and wisdom. Labradorite is known for imparting perseverance and strength. Malachite is one other excellent match for the Turkish named gem as it’s a gemstone of deep transformation and knows everything about abundance. Obsidian also enjoys spending time with this stone as it is another truth-seeking gemstone with its properties of protection and deep dark cloak, it is possible to stand strong and true knowing you are not exposed. Pick any of those stones to couple with your turquoise, and you really amp up its power and invite a lot of glorious healing energy to enter your life! Consider a turquoise mens watch from Aquacy.