Turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones and it has been treasured by many cultures (ancient and modern) around the world. It has been referred to by many names, but the word turquoise, which dates to the 16th century, is derived from an old French word for “Turkish”, because the mineral was first brought to Europe from Turkey.
Hardness: Turquoise is given a rating of 5-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
Color: In nature, turquoise is found in a wide range of hues from sky blue to grey-green, and it is mostly found in soil where there is a high concentration of copper. The color of turquoise can even vary greatly within the same mine, depending on the concentration of copper for each particular area. The true turquoise color is only found in the very best quality stones and in most less valuable stones the color is lighter, or has a bluish-green or greenish cast. Often, the stone has brown, light grey or black veins or blotches running through it.
Birthstone: Turquoise is the December birthstone and has been associated with the fifth and eleventh wedding anniversaries.
Scarcity: While low-grade turquoise is commonly found, the finer grades are quite rare.
Value: Turquoise is rare and valuable in finer grades but like most other opaque gems, its value has decreased due to the introduction of treatments, imitations, and synthetics. Hardness and richness of color are two of the key factors in determining the value of turquoise and outweigh the cut, carat weight or clarity as the deciding factors of its price. The finest quality turquoises are of a pure, radiant sky blue and the more green and the more blotchy the stone, the lower the estimate of the stone’s value.
Most Common Cuts: Turquoise is rarely faceted. Most commonly cut into cabochons or beads, turquoise is used for all kinds of jewelry: brooches, necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Due to its relative softness, it can also be carved into ornamental objects.
Chemical Formula: Turquoise chemical formula is CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O.
Synthetic Varieties: Turquoise is one of the oldest stones and is also one of the first to be made into a synthetic variety. History tell us that the Egyptians were the first to produce an artificial imitation of turquoise, in the glazed earthenware product faience. The most common imitations of turquoise today are dyed magnesite and howlite.
History: Turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones and for at least 2,000 years, the region once known as Persia has remained an important source of turquoise. Many ancient cultures used the stone to adorn its rulers, including those in ancient Egypt, the Aztecs, and the Chinese. Despite being used for many centuries around the world, its arrival to Europe was rather late. It did not become important as an ornamental stone in the West until the 14th century but many native tribes were using it for ceremonial purposes.
French archaeologists conducted excavations of Egypt from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century and made several interesting discoveries about the history of turquoise. Their findings, including that of Tutankhamun’s tomb, intensified the popularity of the gemstone in the western world, and it influenced jewelry, architecture and art during that time.
In North, Central and South America, turquoise has always been a treasured gemstone. The Aztecs in Mexico believed the stone was holy and used it to adorn their ceremonial masks. Also, Native Americans, who still produce a good deal of traditional silver and turquoises jewelry today, believe that the gemstone opens up a direct connection between the sky and the sea. Today, turquoise is most often found cut in cabochons in silver rings, bracelets, and necklaces.
Rumored Healing Properties: The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, but turquoise has been mentioned for centuries by healers. In many cultures, it has been considered a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune and a talisman. Many Native Americans believe that turquoise is synonymous with life. In the modern age, there is still this recognition of a life-giving rock.
Turquoise has been used to ward against the powers of darkness, treat depression, provide confidence, and help with romantic relationships. The gemstone is also said to aid in healing for heart ailments, sciatica, and blisters.