Gemstones – Turquoise

Turquoise is such a popular gemstone, you would think I would have lots of examples in my gemstone collection.  Surprisingly, though I don’t.  I don’t really know why, since the color turquoise is one of my all time favorites.

Up until the last Ancaster Gem and mineral show in September, I only had a few pieces of Persian turquoise (actually from Persia/Iran).  Just before I went to the show, my friend and I were talking about turquoise – that it is her favorite stone yet she has had a hard time finding jewellery pieces she likes with it.  I told her I would check out the dealers at the show and see if they had any turquoise that I thought was interesting.  Of course, I found some!

Aren't these cute!  I bought them from Nikmak.  They aren't "matched", but I tried to pick ones that were as similar as possible.  They are small enough that they would make the cutest earrings!
Aren’t these cute! I bought them from Nikmak. They aren’t “matched”, but I tried to pick ones that were as similar as possible. They are small enough that they would make the cutest earrings!

Turquoise is found all over the world.  The first big exporters of turquoise were the ancient Turkish people, who sourced it from mines in Iran.  Turquoise’s chemical composition contains copper and aluminum (Al) (amongst other elements) – the copper gives it the blue color.  Turquoise with a green tinge actually substitutes the Al for iron.  There are a range of colors from the classic bright sky blue through to yellowish green.

The most desirable is the clear turquoise (like the cabochons above), however this is rare.  Most of the time you will see turquoise with veining which are the minerals of the host rock (matrix).  Because of it’s popularity it is a stone that is often imitated.  As well, there are high quality lab grown turquoise available.  Even the natural stones are subject to a variety of treatments, because the currently mined stone itself is very porous so it is usually stabilized (impregnated with resin or wax), or reconstituted (like orange juice!).  You can see the first imitation turquoise in ancient Egyptian jewellery – it is called faience.

Two Chinese turquoise cabochons, from Robert Hall Originals.
Two Chinese turquoise cabochons, from Robert Hall Originals.

Turquoise has been prized by many cultures for properties it is said to possess.  It is said to provide protection from harm and negative energy and strength.  It is also supposed to attract good fortune.  It is a symbol of friendship.  It is associated with the fifth chakra (throat).  With regard to health, turquoise deals with many ailments, particularly ones involving the gastro-intestinal system, muscles, and inflammation.

This is the largest turquoise cabochon I bought at the show.  It is approx. 30 mm x 12 mm.  It has a very interesting matrix pattern.
This is the largest turquoise cabochon I bought at the show. It is approx. 30 mm x 12 mm. It has a very interesting matrix pattern.

 

The other side.  I think this is quite a beautiful stone.
The other side. I think this is quite a beautiful stone. (Also from Robert Hall Originals)

If you have turquoise jewellery you should take some care with it.  The color can change over time due to loss of water and exposure to light, and this can be hastened if you expose the stone to perspiration, oils, cosmetics and household detergents.  You should remove your rings before washing your hands (this would go for earrings too when washing your hair).  Plus, wearing it in the pool would not be advised!  When you are not wearing your turquoise jewellery you should store it in a cool dark box protected from other jewellery that could damage it.

Looks like I’m going to have to hit the sketchbook to see what I come up with!

Valerie

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