Turquoise has been a treasured jewelry stone around the world for thousands of years. It was used for beads by the Egyptians as early as 5500 B.C. Combined with other ornamental stones, the turquoise was inlaid in gold by Sumerians and Egyptians to produce very sophisticated necklaces, bracelets, anklets, belts, headdresses and earrings.

Pre-Columbian Indians used turquoise for beads and pendants from 500 B.C. Burial grounds of Central America and Mexico yield teeth decorated with turquoises tribute to early dentistry as well as ideas for adornment.
Turquoise jewelry, has always been popular in the Orient. In the seventeenth century, Englishmen traveling there brought the style back with them, but not until Victorian time was it fashionable for European women to wear the stone. Victorian and Art Nouveau jewelry featured a good deal of turquoise. Turquoise has been believed to confer foresight as well as protect the wearer from danger. In various countries, it is believed to fade when illness or danger is near. Another belief is that a fading stone indicates a lover's faithlessness or a friend's disaffection.

In many cultures, the stone is regarded as a harbinger of good fortune, success and health. Aztecs and Egyptians considered it a symbol of prosperity. In India, one was to wear a turquoise on the little finger and look at the stone after seeing the new moon to gain great wealth. According to American Indians, the stone brought together the spirits of sea and sky to bless warriors and hunters; a turquoise arrowhead assured accurate aim. It was said that a fine turquoise was hidden in the damp ground at the end of the rainbow. A Navajo belief is that a piece of turquoise cast into a river, accompanied by a prayer to the god of rain, will cause rainfall.
Ancient doctors exploited the stone's medicinal potential by making it into a paste to treat ailments of the hip. The Egyptians also mounted turquoise in silver to treat eyes suffering from cataract. Since the fourteenth century, harnesses of dogs, horses and other animals have been decorated with turquoise to protect the animal and master from falling injuries. According to a thirteenth century writer, the stone used for this purpose should be set in gold.


The oldest source of turquoise is the Maghara Wadi mines in the Sinai Peninsula. By 3200 B.C., mining expeditions of up to several thousand laborers were sent there annually. These mines were worked for the pharaohs for 2000 years. They, were rediscovered in the mid-nineteenth century and worked on and off until the beginning of this century. The mines of Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, described in 1300 A.D. as having belonged to Isaac, the son of Abraham, supplied turquoise to Europe and Western Asia for centuries, and to the United States for years before production ceased. While turquoise has been produced in Tibet, China, Australia, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Turkestan and Afghanistan, the principal source today is the Southwest region of the United States-New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. It has also been found in Texas, Colorado and California.

The turquoise from Iran is characteristically an intense medium blue color and takes a fine polish. American and Mexican turquoises range from light blue to greenish-blue to bluish-green. Egyptian turquoise contains more green, showing greenish-blue to yellowish-green. The finest color, sometimes referred to as Persian, is an even robin's egg blue

Probably more than any other gem, turquoise has been subject to the ups and downs of the fads of fashion. This has been true for over a century in the US, with the first surge in demand coming in the early 1890s. Those of us who are old enough, we remember when turquoise was really in vogue and popular during the 1960s and 1970s.  At that time, the strong demand caused a huge increase in turquoise prices, and much turquoise was mined in Nevada. The popularity of Turquoise fell offsomewhat in the early 1980s, but it has been consistently increasing in popularity in recent years and definitely is making another comeback. It seems the tides have changed again and many fashion magazines have featured turquoise jewelry recently. Well-known entertainment and TV personalities once again regularly feature turquoise to accessorize their wardrobes. Both Lapidary Journal and Rock and Gem magazines have done special "turquoise feature" issues within recent years. In addition, there has been a "run" on rough turquoise the last couple years in at the Tucson gem shows. Prices for rough are increasing - in fact its quite difficult to buy high quality natural rough turquoise like our Nevada mines produce. Every day more and more people are coming to appreciate the enduring beauty of fine turquoise. So is turquoise coming back into contemporary fashion? It certainly seems so. While it is true that fashion trends will come and go, fine quality always endures and never goes out of style. Natural, gem-grade turquoise will always stay beautiful to look at and be exciting to wear.

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