Turquoise was a popular stone used in the Victorian Jewelry period. Contemporary estate jewelry made from Persian turquoise and gold is very popular.

Persian turquoise was brought to Europe via Turkey, around the 13th century. The gemstone was sold in Turkish markets and purchased by Venice merchants that brought the stone to Europe. The French recipients of the gemstone called it "pierre turquoise" or "Turkish stone".

The first known use of turquoise dates 5000 B.C. in Iraq, where beads have been found. Turquoise is Iran's national gemstone. It has been used to decorate thrones, daggers, bowls, cups, horse tack, ornamental objects and clothing decorations for high officials. Turquoise was very significant to Tibetans. The ancient Greeks and Romans engraved turquoise for ring stones, pendants and carved it into beads. Turquoise became more important during the Middles Ages for decorating covers of manuscripts. Turquoise became very popular during the Renaissance, when turquoise was frequently used in men's rings. The Incas carved turquoise beads, statues and made turquoise inlays. The Aztecs used turquoise for inlaid pendants and rings. In the US, the Zuni, Hopi, Pueblo and the Navajo all made necklaces, earrings and rings. In Northern New Mexico, turquoise beads and pendants have been found in burial sites.

Turquoise is considered to be the first stone mined. Turquoise was the first stone that appears to have been duplicated. Soapstone was found colored with a blue and green glaze from 3100 B.C. Egyptian turquoise beads have been dated back to 4000 B.C.

Turquoise is the birthstone for December and the 11th wedding anniversary stone.

In Iran, it was believed that if one could see the reflection of a new moon on a turquoise that the person was certain to have good luck and be protected from evil. The Hindus believed that if an individual looked at a new moon, and then looked at turquoise they would be rewarded with great wealth to follow. The Navajos believed that a throwing a piece of turquoise in the river, while praying to rain gods, that rain would bless them. The Apache believed that attaching turquoise to a weapon would improve their accuracy. In the thirteenth century, the belief that turquoise would protect its owner from falling was recorded.

Turquoise usually forms in aggregates of submicroscopic crystals that make it opaque. Turquoise crystallizes as veins and nodules near the water table in semiarid to arid environments. Turquoise is often associated with weathered igneous rocks containing primary copper minerals because its chemical stockpiles are rocks that have been leached by rain and ground water. The sky blue color is a result of copper. Iron in turquoise leads to its greener shades. Ochre or brown black veining is common, the result of oxides stains or inclusions of adjacent rock fragments during turquoise's formation. Turquoise is the by product of copper mining.

The best turquoise comes from northeast Iran. Turquoise has been mined there for over 3000 years. Turquoise found in that area is more stable and has a great blue color. Turquoise is also found in China, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Australia, Tibet, Chile, Brazil, the Sinai Peninsula and USA. The US is the major producer of turquoise.

Heat may cause turquoise to fracture, shatter or change color. In strong light, turquoise may change color or fade. Ultrasonics chemicals and heat should be avoided. To clean turquoise, use warm soapy water and a gentle cloth. Turquoise may be fade with exposure to perspiration, perfume, hair-spray, cosmetics, lotions and soaps.

Color is the best feature of turquoise. The most highly valued turquoise is untreated, dense and robin's egg blue. Turquoise is higher valued if it has an even, intense sky-blue color. Iran generally produces the most valued turquoise. Turquoise with a matrix is less valuable. Of the matrix designs, the spider web is the most valued. A fine polish is possible only when the stones are hard and semi-nonporous. Pale or chalky turquoise is sometimes impregnated with oil, paraffin, liquid plastic, glycerin or sodium silicate to enhance color and shine.

Crystal system: triclinic
Cleavage: none
Refractive Index 1.61 - 1.65
Optic: double refracting and AGG
Specific Gravity: 2.60 - 2.85 - usually

With a hardness of 5 to 6, on the Mohs' Scale, turquoise is considered tough to poor.


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