This mineral ranges from sky-blue through bluish green; even occasionally apple green. The streak is white and the hardness is between 5 and 6.


Turquoise forms as a secondary mineral in the zone of alteration in disseminated hydrothermal replacement deposits.


The finest Turquoise comes from the southwest slope of the Ali-Mirsa-Kuh Mts., near Nishapur, Khurasan, Iran. In North America turquoise is found mostly in the Southwest and occasionally in Mexico. Microscopic crystals of Turquoise occur in fractured quartz in a small copper prospect near Lynch Station, Campbell Co., Virginia.

Gemstone Information

Gem-quality Turquoise ranges in color from pale blue to bright blue. Vein Turquoise is usually poor in quality and does not take the polish that can be given to nodular Turquoise. Much Turquoise is porous, but it can be plastic-impregnated before use. Turquoise is used for cabochons or carved.


The name was originally French, [turquoise,] meaning “Turkish” It originally referred to material from the great localities in Persia (now Iran), which had passed through Turkey via the old trade routes and was mistakenly believed to have been excavated there.

Legend and Lore

This stone has long been used for protection against traumatic injuries. It was thought that the stone would shatter, thus warning the wearer of imminent physical danger. It was also used to decorate the bridles of horses, to protect them against broken bones from falls. Among the Native Americans of the Southwestern United States, Turquoise is believed to be a connector of Earth and Sky. It is one of the four “elemental” gemstones of the Pueblos; (the others are coral, jet and abalone shell). This is considered to be one of the Birthstones for December:

“If cold December gives you birth,
The month of snow, and ice, and mirth,
Place on your hand a Turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’re you do.”

Magical Properties

Turquoise is thought to increase Wisdom.

“An old ritual utilized Turquoise to gain wealth. Perform this rite a few days after the New Moon when the crescent is first visible in the sky. Avoid looking at the Moon until the proper time. Hold a Turquoise in your hand. Visualize your magical need — money — manifesting in your life. Move outside and look at the Moon. Then directly shift your gaze to the Turquoise. The magic has begun. Carry the stone with you until the money arrives.” (4)


It is recommended that healers wear Turquoise to increase their power. This stone is also said to heal the emotional “heart” of the individual. In addition it has been recommended for healing stomach disorders and for the eyes.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Turquoise

  • State Gem of New Mexico
  • “Turquoise” French word meaning “Turkish Stone”
  • Turquoise was first introduced to Western Europe from Persia by way of Turkey
  • Spanish “turquesa”
  • Used for religious and ornamental purposes
  • Navajo’s once used it as currency
  • Zuni craftsmen learned art of silversmithing around 1860 from the Spanish
  • Zuni: it symbolizes “the supreme life giving power”
  • Tribes believed it to bring good fortune and ensure a long and healthy life
  • Largest known deposit in Cerrillos Hills by Santa Fe
  • 1st report of turquoise in 1535
  • 10% of turquoise mined is gem grade
  • Occurs almost exclusively in arid lands
  • Abundant in dry copper rich regions of South West United States: Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico
  • Sporadically in Mexico: Sonora and Zacatecas
    California: Mojave Desert
    West Texas and Utah
  • Rare deposits in Alabama and Virginia: worlds only known turquoise crystals
  • Peru, Australia, Turkistan, Iran, Siberia, China, Ethiopia, France, German and Sinai Peninsula
  • Iron and Copper key components of turquoise
  • Pueblo legend: turquoise steals its blue colour from the sky
    – scientifically it is the amount of copper present
    – iron turns it various colours of green
  • Most of the mines in New Mexico and through out the South West are exhausted or shut down for financial reasons
  • Many gems from the South West turquoise jewelry comes from China

Ranking of turquoise:

1) Large natural gems:
  • bright blue, large, hard and rare
2) Lesser natural gems w/ good blue or green colour:
  • varying degree of hardness
  • rings and inlaid jewelry
  • stones must stay away from dishwater, hand lotion, baby oil; anything that can be absorbed by the stone, this will change its colour
3) Stabilized:
  • lower grade stones called “chalk”; often almost white in colour and very soft
  • treated under high pressure w/ a clear plastic resin, absorbs the solution;
  • almost indistinguishable from high quality natural gems
  • never fades and impermeable
  • many artists work with this type
4) Dyed Stabilized:
  • adding dyes to process to create a deeper, darker blue
5) Reconstituted:
  • tiny chips of turquoise mixed with epoxy treated under pressure to make one big chunk
6) Temporarily Treated:
  • fraudulent way of darkening the colour
  • anything turquoise absorbs changes its colour ; oil, lacquer, even water
  • by baking in an oven, rubbing it on, soaking it etc.
  • lasts days to months and will eventually fade
  • temporarily treated stones look oily
7) Imitation:
  • plastic

Old Pawn

  • Southwest Native American considered turquoise jewelry finest form of personal adornment
  • Pawn jewelry buried with deceased owner, particularly Navajo, fearful of spirits of the dead
  • Barter system among the Zuni, Hopi, White Mountain and Jicarilla Apaches, Navajo, Ute, Harvasupar, Walapai and pueblos of Ilita, Zia, Acoma, Laguna and Santo Domingo
  • turn of the century pawned for credit or for every day necessities
  • Old Pawn era 1890-1940
  • Trading posts started 1870’s
  • Santo Domingo Indian Trading Post est. 1881 on heels of the Rail centre (across tracks)
  • losing business since 1932 new highway bypassed it by 4 miles, Santa Fe Railroad stop no longer exists across the road
  • Jewelry traded for partial sum of its worth in cash or goods
  • Pawn declared “dead” when not redeemed w/ interest paid; trader then could name his price
  • By 1920’s jewelry from New Mexico highly valued
  • Now private collectors and museums hold most of it
  • Harder to find
  • Establishing authenticity can seldom be clearly defined; only educated guess
  • Documented chain of possession from the time of creation through a string of owners to the last; only way of really knowing
  • Most prized items: Pueblo pins, Zuni butterfly pins, Zuni antelope kachina pins, concho belts, Navajo bracelets w/ turquoise inlays, ketohs (bow guards), Navajo jacla (ear strings) and turquoise bead necklaces, and ornate squash blossom necklaces

Copyrighted Image