Turquoise is perhaps the best-known gemstone to come from the Southwest. Did you know that it is also one of the oldest referenced gemstones in human history? It's use ranged from decoration to adornment, from spiritual practices, even to healing! Today, it’s a hallmark of Native American jewelry and sculpture, as well as artisan jewelry and fashion. Read on to learn about the two main sources of Arizona turquoise that we carry - Bisbee turquoise and Kingman turquoise, and some practical turquoise knowledge.
Turquoise can be found all over the world. It’s an opaque, blue-green mineral that exists in a wide variety of hues. The most sought after varieties of turquoise can be quite rare and valuable, especially because it’s hard to find turquoise without “veins,” or dark streaks. These veins are due to how the stone forms.
When rainwater falls and seeps into the crevices of rock, it can absorb copper particles from the soil. After the water evaporates, the copper is left behind in the stone, and a reaction between this element along with aluminum and phosphorus can occur. Together, they form the signature blue color of turquoise within the openings of the “host” rock. This is why it’s so hard to find turquoise without brown or black “veins” - these veins are the remnants of the original stone!
Turquoise doesn’t form crystals in the same way that other gemstones do. (Think of quartz points that gift shops might have. Each quartz point has a similar way of forming, but turquoise doesn’t). This gives each gemstone a unique look, but it also means that turquoise is less structured. It has a Mohs hardness of 5-6, so it can be damaged and scratched if appropriate care isn’t taken! Turquoise works best in styles that are out of the way. Pendants and earrings work very well. Rings and bracelets are also possibilities if you’re careful not to bump them. A great rule of thumb is to put jewelry on last in the morning, and take it off as soon as you get back home. Never wear turquoise jewelry to do chores like cleaning, because some household chemicals can disrupt and damage the gem.
Bisbee Blue Turquoise
Bisbee Turquoise actually comes from a mine that wasn’t originally interested in turquoise at all! It comes from what was once a copper mine. The rich soil made this locale perfect for creating vibrant blue turquoise, however, and by the 60’s it became known as the finest natural turquoise on the market! Now, the Bisbee mines are closed, and this gem has become even more rare and sought-after.
Bisbee turquoise is often a vibrant, saturated dark blue with brown or tan veins, giving this stone a unique look. In rare instances, the veins are so fine, they’re nearly invisible. Our jeweler, Rene, has created a limited number of Bisbee Blue Turquoise pieces. These are all one of a kind, handmade pieces of art. He’s lucky enough to have a friend who works with turquoise often, and is able to source some rare and special pieces of Bisbee Turquoise for these designs!
The Kingman mine is one of the oldest and highest-producing turquoise mines! This locale was mined by Native Americans and Mayans around 1000 AD. Now, it continues to be one of the most consistent locales for turquoise. It produces a variety of colors, from light blue to green. Because of the availability of this turquoise, it’s perfect for sterling silver styles. These designs combine natural Kingman turquoise with other interesting and colorful gems, making them great for everyday styles and conversation starting styles! These designs are also perfect gifts for anyone who has an interest in Arizona and Turquoise jewelry.
Whether you’re shopping for a high quality, one of a kind design, or a more casual piece of jewelry you can wear everyday, turquoise just might be the answer! It’s the classic American Gem. Check out our selection of Kingman Turquoise in sterling silver to get some design inspiration. Or, head over to Rene’s designs and indulge a bit in some luxury. We can also custom design a turquoise piece just for you!