The natural cool colors of turquoise just seem to make it a gem that is easy to appreciate and enjoy. From the Ancient Egyptians and early Chinese civilizations to the Native American tribes, mankind around the world has treasured turquoise for centuries as the ancient stone of the earth and sky. It really is no wonder that turquoise seems to hold some raw, primitive quality, as turquoise was one of the first gemstones ever worked by mankind – it has been treasured for thousands of years. It is soft enough to be shaped, polished and fashioned into jewelry with simple tools – hence its use from the earliest times of man’s civilization.
Handcrafted turquoise jewelry just seems to have an enduring natural beauty and a raw, primitive quality. Although a bright blue shade comes to mind for most people, turquoise actually comes in a wide range of colors from a bright green, to greenish blue to bright royal blue shades. Not too cheap, but not overly expensive – natural turquoise is an affordable souvenir of mother earth.
Starting a collection of turquoise jewelry is actually very easy, and the desirable attributes of this beautiful gem just seem to grow on you as your collection expands. Turquoise is an investment that does not need to be locked away in a vault, because you can enjoy your jewelry as you wear it. The tides of fashion have turned in recent years, and the beautiful blues and greens of turquoise are again coming back into the mainstream. Trend setting magazines once again regularly feature turquoise and well-known entertainment personalities use it to accessorize their wardrobes. Most people who collect turquoise jewelry organize their collections around one of two concepts:
1) The first is to collect the work of famous jewelry artists. Certain artists are partial to specific recognizable styles and patterns, which then become the hallmark of their work.
Some collectors specialize only in the works of well-known Native American artists, often trying to specialize in a few particular artists, and collecting several examples of their work. Others will also include the work of Anglo artists who have been trained in the ways of making Indian style jewelry. These other artists are also of interest, as some have become very successful in their craft. It is also true that while most turquoise is mounted in Indian style silver jewelry, there is also some very beautiful turquoise jewelry made in very classy contemporary styles.
2) The second concept is to collect the gems of specific American turquoise Mines of the desert southwest. There are many famous American turquoise mines spread throughout the Southwestern US, chiefly in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, but also in Colorado and California. American turquoise comes in a wide diversity of blues and greens – there are many colors and patterns to choose from. The bulk of the production from each mine tends to have certain characteristics, so the collector will seek to purchase gems with those specific traits to show the best examples of each mine. As an example, certain mines in Nevada are well known for their spider web patterned turquoise, and the collector may seek turquoise from that mine which shows that pattern in its most attractive forms.
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 off somewhat in the 1980s, but it has been consistently increasing in popularity in recent years and is poised for another comeback. Many fashion magazines have featured turquoise jewelry recently.
Well-known entertainment 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. There has been a “run” on rough turquoise the last couple years in at the famous Tucson gem shows. Prices for rough are increasing – in fact its quite difficult to buy high quality natural rough turquoise. Every day more and more people are coming to appreciate the enduring beauty of fine turquoise. 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.
To learn more about Natural American turquoise, take a look at our turquoise information center:
If you would like to see some of our beautiful turquoise jewelry and purchase some turquoise directly from the mine owner, take a look at our turquoise jewelry:
Chris Ralph writes on small scale mining and prospecting for the ICMJ Mining Journal. He has a degree in Mining Engineering from the Mackay School of Mines in Reno, and owns several small but famous old turquoise mines in rural Nevada. After working in the mining industry, he has continued his interest in mining as an individual prospector. He can be reached at P.O. Box 3104 Reno, Nevada 89505. His information page on prospecting for gold can be viewed at:
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