The Turquoise Stone is a blue-green, opaque mineral that is created from hydrated phosphate of aluminum and copper. This gem is prized because of the rarity of finding it in the finer grade, all of which makes it more valuable.
It is rare to find the ‘perfect’ turquoise stone because it takes 1000’s of years for it be to achieve the unique hue it can offer. Because it was one of the first mined gems, most of the historic sites are depleted, but still in operation. Many of the mines are hand worked, using little to no machinery. These are things that make it a more precious and rare gemstone, thus more valuable.
Iran, Formerly Persia
One of the more important sources for the turquoise stone for the past 2,000 years. The Iranians original name for the stone was “pirouzeh” and the Arabs would later call it “firouzeh”. The blue turquoise was used in Iranian architecture to cover palace domes, symbolic of heaven on earth.
Since 3,000 BCE, the First Dynasty, maybe even earlier, the Egyptians mined turquoise in the Sinai Peninsula. It was referred to “Country of Turquoise” and the region is home to 5 mines along the peninsula’s southwest coast. Two of the six mines have an important historical value, being the oldest of all the mines.
The United States
Prior to the Spanish conquest, the turquoise stone was used widely by Native Americans. In the Southwest part of the United States, turquoise is found in abundance mostly in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.
Using tools made of stone, the pre-Columbian Native Americans mined the deposits of California and New Mexico. The oldest of mines are those found in Cerrillos, New Mexico, which was the largest producer in America prior to the 1920s.
The turquoise stone is will occur as a vein or filling seams and usually found in small nugget sizes. Much of American mined turquoise is a chalky turquoise that rivals that of the Iranian turquoise. The low-grade American turquoise has a higher level of iron with more greens and yellowsin it. The untreated state of turquoise is what is found in most jewelry pieces.
Dating back to 1000 to 1040 CD, turquoise was used in crafts such as freeform pendants. It is said that the Chaco Canyon Ancestral Puebloans are who brought the stone with them. Turquoise in pastel shades was endearing to several great cultures and was adorned by Ancient Egypt rulers, the Aztecs, Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, and Persia. Ancient China used turquoise to some degree, since the Shang Dynasty.
In many Old and New World cultures, this gemstone has been valued for thousands of years and considered to be a holy stone. It is believed that it brings about good fortune and is held in regards as a talisman.
This belief goes back as far as Ancient Egypt. Turquoise was used as an inlay of grave furnishings by the Ancient Egyptians. The ancient Persian Empire was known to wear the stone for protection around their neck or wrist. Should the turquoise change color, the person wearing it was to be aware of possible doom approaching.
Today, much of turquoise pieces are polished roughly into irregular cabochons and then set in silver. It is December’s birthstone and is one of the stones in the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest as described in Exodus 28.
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