Monday, April 11, 2011
This weekend I started working on a turquoise beaded necklace. Still working out the exact design but thought I might write a post about this beautiful stone.
Color: Turquoise colors range from sky blue to blue-green to apple green. The most valuable is pure blue, and it is also the most rare. Most stones will have a matrix of other minerals throughout them that appear in the form of brown, gray or black veins.
History: The use of turquoise dates back at least to the time of ancient Egyptians when Pharaohs often adorned themselves with turquoise jewels. The ancient Chinese also favored the use of turquoise using it almost as much as jade. Turquoise was also very popular during the European Victorian era. And Native Americans in North America began mining and cutting their own turquoise to create beautiful jewelry several centuries before the arrival of Europeans.
There are several forms of turquoise found in the jewelry market:
Natural turquoise is the most valuable and most expensive. Representing less than 3% of the world market, it is usually a vivid blue with a fine delicate pattern of veins. It is cut and polished without any further treatment or compounds being applied.
Stabilized turquoise is the most common form of turquoise used today. It is less expensive than natural turquoise, but it is still very beautiful and more valuable than dyed turquoise (as described below.) Stabilization is achieved by infusing the stone with a clear epoxy resin which hardens the surface and enhances (as opposed to dying) the color. Whereas natural turquoise will deepen in color over time, the color intensity of stabilized turquoise will not change because of the hardened surface.
Treated and dyed turquoise pieces are very common in the jewelry market, are less expensive but also less valuable. These stones are first stabilized and then dyed resulting in a less natural and somewhat artificial appearance.
Reconstituted turquoise is often referred to as chalk turquoise. It is the lowest grade turquoise and hence the least valuable and least expensive. The process is applied to lower grade stones and involves first grinding the stone into powder, then applying a resin and dye to form a thick paste. It is then pressed into forms and molds and allowed to harden. It is then cut and carved into various shapes and sizes. Reconstituted turquoise is usually easy to identify because it has none of the characteristic veins or matrix found in natural and stabilized turquoise.
Turquoise jewelry is highly popular in today's market. Before buying turquoise, ask about the quality and treatment of the stone as a reputable jeweler should disclose this information.
As for the necklace I am working on, I will post when pictures and description when completed!