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The Beauty and History of Turquoise:
With Tips to Know Before You Shop

turquoiseThe beauty and history of turquoise is hard to surpass! Seeped with history and mystery it is truly a captivating stone.

Turquoise history dates back over 6000 years. Archaeological and literary references to the gemstone predate the Christian era by five millennia. It has been unearthed in tombs from ancient Egypt...specifically the 4 bracelets of Queen Zar, found on her mummified arm. These date back to the second ruler of Egypt's First Dynasty, approximately 5500 BC!

Aristotle and Pliny both refer to turquoise. Marco Polo even wrote about it. Turquoise has always been considered a stone of life. It also has a long standing history of more than 1000 years with Native Americans who have used it extensively for protection and healing. The stone was also used in religion, art, trade, treaty negotiations and, of course, treasured jewelry.

Turquoise - the healing stone

Turquoise's use as a healing stone reaches far into history. It has been used for headaches, eye problems, fever and insect bites to name just a few. It was ground to a powder then swallowed to cure stomach ailments. Turquoise also has significant metaphysical properties. It is a harmonizing stone that is said to alleviate nervousness, help with problem solving, relieve stress from a hectic life, and promote friendship. It is also well known for its protective qualities and people from many different cultures have been known to carry turquoise stones with them at all times.

Shopping for turquoise jewelry

turquoise braceletTurquoise is often strung on beads, carved into animal fetishes, or combined with other stones such as onyx, amethyst, or coral. Its color ranges from brilliant sky blue to green and it usually has black or brown veins running through it. In jewelry it is very popular set in sterling silver. Silver enhances the natural colors of the turquoise much better than gold. Turquoise is found in North American, especially in the dry areas of Arizona and New Mexico. It is also found in China, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and Persia.

Turquoise can be rather porous and chalky and is often not suitable for jewelry until it is treated. There are various processes that are used on turquoise.

Stabilization is one treatment which is used on turquoise. In this process a resinous substance is bonded to the raw gemstone. Pressure and heat are applied and the microscopic gaps in the stone fill with the plastic resin. When cured the product is a treated stone hard enough to cut and polish. Stabilization allows genuine but lower grade turquoise to be used in jewelry. Stabilization helps to keep the stone from chipping and prevents changes in color from contact with skin oils. Wax treatment is also very common with turquoise. This process is often used with turquoise from China. Paraffin wax is impregnated into the turquoise to deepen and stabilizes the color but it only affects the surface.

TurquoiseSome jewelry may be made with reconstituted turquoise. Inferior gemstones are ground into a powder and this turquoise dust is molded together with epoxy resin, dyed and pressed into stone shaped forms - they look good but don't have the value of a real stone.

Another process is referred to as 'block' turquoise. To make this type of turquoise, plastic resin and dyes are mixed and then shaped into blocks of turquoise about the size of a loaf of bread. There are no actual turquoise gem stones in this mix, it is entirely man made and should be labeled simulated. It is made in many colors and produces a very attractive and durable stone. Block turquoise is used extensively for inlay work.

So, when in the market for turquoise jewelry be aware of what you are purchasing. Simulated turquoise and a natural piece of turquoise jewelry are both terrific. Whatever your needs are, just be certain the product you are purchasing is priced according to its composition.

Enjoy this truly captivating stone!!


More about turquoise around the Web:

U.S. Geological Survey Gemstones - Turquoise

Making faux turquoise


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