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What Is Turquoise? | Bixler’s Gemstone Guide

What is Turquoise?-BIXLER

Turquoise is an opaque mineral occurring in hues of blue, blue-green, green and yellow-green. For years, the turquoise has been prized as a gemstone because of its rarity and beautiful appearance. Being a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum, the mineral has a chemical formula of CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)84H2O. Until recently, turquoise has gradually decreased its value due to the rising of treatments, simulations, and synthetics. Turquoise is derived from the French word, turquois to mean Turkish. This is mainly because the mineral was first mined in Turkey in Khorasan or Persia mines. To date, turquoise is used to describe a color along with gold, silver, and copper minerals. Being a birthstone for people born in December, turquoise is believed to offer protection against evil forces and diseases.

What Does Turquoise Look Like?

Turquoise Earrings
Turquoise Earrings

Today, just a few amounts of turquoise are mined because they are rare. Most people confuse this gemstone to being a dyed Howlite. For starters, it doesn’t have a perfectly and evenly distributed color at first glance. It has plenty of inclusions within and either a black, brown or yellow webbing. In some cases, it can have other different colors as the webbing. These are the physical observations you can draw from looking at a real turquoise. Upon touching the Turquoise, you can feel a bit of roughness when you reach the webbing. Real turquoise has a rough exterior with a hardness of 5-6 on the Mohs scale. It either occurs as colossal or nodular crystal habits with waxy to translucent luster. It appears extremely beautiful and doesn’t scratch easily when you press against another stone.

Where Is It Found?

Turquoise is a rare gemstone, is found in various places where the natural conditions are characterized by dry climates. It was among the first gemstones that were mined in ancient days and since then, the occurrence of the stone has gradually been washed-out. For the last 2000 years, Iran has been mining turquoise gemstone. Given its royal blue color, the turquoise was used as coverings of Domes in palaces to represent heaven and earth. Today, Nishapur mine is where the blue turquoise is found in the capital of Khorasan Province in Iran.

It is also mined in Mexico, U.S, Chile, Tibet, and China. Turquoise has similar characteristics but with minor variations. The striking light blue turquoise is mined in the Sleeping Beauty mines in Arizona which is among the largest mines in North America. Little Chalchihuitl mine in Los Cerrillos, New Mexico produces the incredible light greenish-blue turquoise with grey or brown bands. Royston Turquoise mine in Nevada is popular for producing a variety of colored turquoise from emerald green to lenient blue. Also in Southcentral Nevada is the Ajax mine where you can get light blue turquoise with dark blue or green webbing.

What is Turquoise - BIXLER

What Is the Rarest Type of Turquoise?

Turquoise, being among the first gemstones to be mined in over 7000 years ago, is becoming rare and finding a high-grade one is difficult. Bisbee Turquoise is the rarest of the gemstone and is highly sought after. It was among the first mineral to arrive on the market in the early 1960s. It occurs in various shades of blue with plenty of webbing. However, the high-quality Bisbee turquoise features a dark blue color with brown-reddish webbing. This whole appearance is unique and makes the turquoise beautiful to look at.it gets its name from the Bisbee mine which is located in Arizona. Lander Blue Turquoise is also another rare type from Lander County in northern Nevada which holds a deep blue with black matrix appearance.

RELATED: Learn About Each Month’s Birthstones!

Is Turquoise Worth Any Money?

Availability, color, cut, and carat weight is factors that determine the value of Turquoise. All these are attributes that determine the quality of turquoise. Normally, the price ranges from $1 to $10 per carat and can also range from $0.05 to $1000 per carat all reliant to the quality. So, the first factor that determines quality is the weight. The more the turquoise weighs, the more valuable it is. When you place two pieces of turquoise side by side, you will notice that there’s a slight difference. This makes each turquoise unique together with the matrix of colors and patterns. The more exclusive the stone is in appearance, the better the quality and consequently, the more valuable it is.

What is Turquoise?-BIXLER

The degree of translucence in turquoise also plays a role in determining its quality. If the stone is grainy and powdery, it is of lower quality and thus comes at a cheap price. Also, the cut is equally as important. This is the process of turning raw stones into more presentable gems and this improves its worth. When still raw, it becomes quite difficult to determine its value because of its rough nature. How rare the stone also increases the value of turquoise as with other rare gemstones. The matrix pattern also affects its value. Some regions like in Persia consider turquoise with no matrix to be more valuable. In America, turquoise presenting a variation of matrix patterns hold more value for being beautiful and unique.

Is Turquoise Becoming Rare?

Due to the specific occurrence of turquoise, the gemstone is becoming quite rare in most parts where it is mined. Some mines in the U.S. and the likes of the Sleeping Beauty mine was closed a while back because it wasn’t producing any more turquoise. In regions like Nevada and Arizona, turquoise production is extremely low and the little that is found comes at a very high cost. For many years, China has been leading in mining 75% of turquoise in the world. However, in the recent past, mining has been temporarily discontinued because of commercial and other environmental reasons. The Persian and Egyptian turquoise mining was in the beginning and the production has depleted. Generally, turquoise mining has greatly reduced thus making it rare.

Can You Wear Turquoise in the Shower?

You should always observe the care and maintenance of all types of jewelry and most especially. If you own a piece of turquoise jewelry, then you shouldn’t expose it to oils, lotions, soaps, or any other chemicals. This is because it is extremely porous and such fluids may get inside and alter its coloration. Therefore, going to the shower or swimming with turquoise is not advisable to improve its durability.

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