Hot Rocks: Turquoise

by Linda McMurray, G.G., A.J.P
http://www.bestcutgems.com

When I look at a piece of Turquoise, the beautiful blue colors remind me of a mid-summer sky above the ocean and leaves me with a serene feeling inside. It is a fact, that the color blue has a calming effect on a person. This is why hospitals usually have a lot of blue color in their rooms. Turquoise has always been very popular in jewelry because of its different shades of blue and greens; it is also the birthstone for December.

Turquoise is an opaque (you cannot see through it) gemstone that is often cut into a cabochon but also made into beads, inlays and carvings. Colors range from a beautiful robin egg blue to dark blue, blue green and green. The blue color in Turquoise comes from the copper in it and the green color from iron. An intense blue is known as Persian Blue Turquoise and is very sought after and commands a high price. Turquoise may contain veins of different minerals, sometimes called matrix. These veins can be black, brown or yellow depending on the mineral materials. A matrix pattern called “spider web” is very popular.

In different ancient cultures Turquoise was cherished as a holy stone, a talisman. In Egypt a grave was found decorated with Turquoise inlay that dated back to around 3000 BC. The Mayans even prized Turquoise more than they did their gold! In long ago Persia, the people wore Turquoise around their necks and wrists. They believed the gem would protect them from a horrible death. If their Turquoise changed color, it was believed certain doom would come to the wearer. (Turquoise is known to change color if it comes in contact with certain chemicals, perfumes, oils or dust.) Turquoise was adorned on the bridles of their horses to protect their steed and fend off falls. Warriors set Turquoise in their knives and swords to protect themselves in battle. Turquoise was found in early Native American ceremonial garments and headdresses. Native Americans today still create beautiful silver jewelry using Turquoise. They believe that Turquoise has a connection between the sky and the sea.

Treatments

Turquoise is commonly treated. The most common is treating it with plastic, a resin or with oil. When it is impregnated with plastic it is called stabilized Turquoise. These enhancements are stable and actually protect the Turquoise, sealing out foreign elements. Wax is sometimes used, but is not stable. It is also sometime dyed to improve the color, but this treatment looks unnatural and is usually not permanent.

Plastic imitations are common and called reconstituted Turquoise. Actually these do not contain any Turquoise at all, just dyed minerals and epoxy.

Origin

Southwest United States is the largest producer of Turquoise. It is also found in China, Egypt, Chile and Iran.

Folk Lore

Turquoise is said to be a natural protector against the power of dark things. A person suffering from depression should wear Turquoise. It is said it will give the wearer more confidence. If you give Turquoise as a gift, it is said your relationship will be more consistent and faithful.

Care of your Turquoise

Turquoise is a fairly soft stone (5 to 6 on Mohs scale for hardness), and is also porous and very absorbent. Perfumes and cosmetics should be avoided, with no direct contact. Put your Turquoise jewelry on after you apply these. The only cleaning would be to wipe with a dry soft cloth. Never, ever put your Turquoise in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner!

As with any gemstone you purchase, buy from a reputable person who will guarantee the authenticity of your gem and disclose to you any enhancement or treatments that have been done.

Linda McMurray is co-owner of Best Cut Gems in Beverly Hills, FL and is a certified Gemologist. Visit her online store for a wide selection of gemstones, cabochons, finished jewelry and more gemstone facts.  http://www.bestcutgems.com

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Posted in Hot Rocks

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