The 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. Archeological and literary references to the stone 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 the Egypt’s First Dynasty, approximately 5500 B.C. 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 over a 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 jewelry. Turquoise’s use as a healing stone reaches far – it has been used for headaches, eye problems, fever and insect bites to name just a few. It was ground to a powder then it was drank 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 many cultures carry a turquoise stone with them at all times.
Turquoise 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 in the dry areas of Arizona and New Mexico. It is also found in China, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and Persia.
Wax Treated: Much of the turquoise from China is wax impregnated. The paraffin treatment deepens and stabilizes the color but only affects the surface.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 a treatment which uses a resinous substance. The process uses pressure and heat to fill the microscopic gaps in the stone with 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 very common with turquoise from China. Paraffin wax is impregnated into the turquoise to deepen and stabilizes the color but it only affects the surface.
Some jewelry may be made with reconstituted turquoise which is ground turquoise from inferior stones that is molded together with epoxy resin, dyed and pressed into stone like forms – they look good but don’t have the value of a real stone.
Another process is referred to as “Block” where a mixture of plastic resin and dyes are produced in blocks the size of a loaf. There is no actual turquoise in this mix, it is entirely man mad and should be labeled simulated. It is made in many colors, and it 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 is terrific. What ever your needs are just be certain the product you are purchasing is priced according to its composition. Enjoy this truly captivating stone!!