The color of the gods, Tiffany’s favorite shade, what exactly is turquoise and why should you care? Well, the answer is pretty simple. It’s a stone. When minerals are carried by water and flow through mines, they eventually create the beautiful green-blue stone that we all know and love. The process actually takes millennia to complete, but once they’re done forming in the mine, these lovely pieces are almost ready for consumers; they just require a few extra steps.
I’ll start by saying that most turquoise on the market is treated with chemicals because it’s usually too brittle to be worn as jewelry, if it’s just pulled from the mine. Typically, when turquoise is untreated, it has a hardness level of just under 6 on the Mohs’ scale, which ranks slightly more durable than window glass in comparison. To prevent breaking, treating the turquoise has become a common practice.
Artists can then choose to cut and shape the stone to fit in a silver setting, like bracelets, necklaces, rings, and you probably get the idea. You can learn more about this process in my previous post, “How to Spot Real Turquoise Jewelry.”
Now, back to the formation of turquoise stones, this gem is actually a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. In short, it’s a combination of water, phosphoric acid, and salt. You can see why mines with nearby water sources are the perfect locations for the development of this gem.
One thing that makes turquoise so interesting is the variants of color. When there’s more copper during the stone’s formation, you’ll get something bluer, while an influx of iron will give you a beautiful green.
Since nature, weather conditions, climate, and the like, all play important factors in the development of turquoise; you can imagine that each mine will create strikingly different results based on the differences in these elements. With that, you get a wide variety of colors, from a very light green to a deep blue.
For this reason, mines that have unique colors, matrices (lines in which water entered the mineral), and textures become famous. Many in the Southwestern region of the United Sates are prized for their beauty. Some turquoise stones are even named after the mine they come from, like Sleeping Beauty (left) or Kingman (right) turquoise.
Since copper and sulfides play a large role in the formation of turquoise too, you’ll usually find turquoise mines in more arid areas, like the American Southwest and even Middle-Eastern countries.
Turquoise has a long-standing history in jewelry from cultures across the world. Since the stone is found in nature and easily accessible, we have records of ancient kings and emperors wearing the stunning blue and green stone. In some cultures, turquoise is even considered sacred so maybe you should consider this lovely gem for your next piece when you’re out shopping and live like the kings and queens of old.
Thanks for reading you crazy turquoise fans and I hope you will continue to do so!