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Sacred Bear Newsletter


The word turquoise, which dates back to the 16th century, is derived from the French word for “Turkish.” The mineral brought from Turkey to Europe from the mines in the Khorasan Province of Iran. Iranians called it “Phirouzeh,” and the Aztecs named it “Teoxihuitl.” No matter what it is called, turquoise is a beautiful material with a great deal of beauty and significance in Native American culture.

From "The Truth on Turquoise" by Eileen Richardson

Turquoise has been of interest to even early man. In the Western hemisphere in the burial sites of prehistoric peoples the stone was found.

The Anasazi and Hohokam mined turquoise throughout the Southwest. Turquoise is known to be a popular trade item because it was found hundreds of miles away from the mining sites of New Mexico in Mexico with the Aztecs.

It seems that turquoise was considered a stone of life and good fortune and had healing properties.

In Egypt, the earliest known use of turquoise and the first mines of Sinai, it was mentioned as having mystical powers and was used in the art figures and ornaments. In India it was used in art, medicine, and jewelry. In Tibet every Tibetan carried or wore a piece of turquoise all their life.

In North and South America the stone was used in religion, art, trade, treaty negotiations as well as for jewelry. It was considered to be associated with life itself. It was thought to prevent injury through accident, prevent blindness, by placing on the eyes or ground into a salve and as a powder. It was ingested to cure stomach disorders, internal bleeding, and stings from snakes and scorpions. Their colors could forecast the good or bad, predict the weather and influence dreams. It was good for almost any ailment including insanity.

Turquoise consists of the chemical elements copper, aluminum, phosphorus, hydrogen and oxygen in the form of water. Most turquoise is found in ‘alteration zones' where the native original rocks have been altered thru the intrusion of other rocks from some volcanic or other thermal influence.

The color of turquoise can vary from deep blue to deep green with every variation in between. Generally the more copper in the molecule, the bluer the turquoise. Iron in the stone makes it greener. More moisture will also cause turquoise to turn greener in color.

Placing turquoise in animal fat can change the stone to a deeper color. Dipping it in water can also alter the color. These methods are only temporary though.

There are 4 types of turquoise you will see in the jewelry market:

1. Natural - This comes directly from the mine. It is cut shaped and polished and set into jewelry. It has no man made treatment or additives other than a polishing compound that adds to its luster. Most stones in this state are very close to gem quality.

2. Stabilized - This is a natural turquoise usually in nugget form, but does not hold a luster. It is submerged into a stabilizing compound and dried, cut and prepared for jewelry. The turquoise has not been altered. The pores of the stone have been filled with a clear resin that makes the stone usable. This process allows for diversity of shapes and possibilities in jewelry making. Color Stabilized stones ARE altered and the color has been added by this process. This in not necessarily bad, but it has less value than a piece that is naturally colored.

3. Treated - This form of color enhancement has been used for thousands of years. It is done as discussed earlier by submerging into animal fat or vegetable oil and later air dried. This will not last very long.

4. Synthetic - Synthetic turquoise has a very natural matrix that is produced by placing stones in the synthetic "batter".


You will see it advertised but it is not turquoise at all...

"Wild Horse" magnesite is the marketing name for a new "find" mined in the Gila Wilderness area in southern Arizona. Chocolate brown with off white spots, it is magnesite (magnesium carbonite) mixed with hematite. Its spotted appearance resembles the pattern on the Appaloosa horse.

Also marketed under the names "Appaloosa" and "Crazy Horse" magnesite.