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Turquoise Gemstones

 
 Chinese Turquoise Pendant  in Silver Wire Wrapped Setting
 
 
History of Turquoise
by Jeremy Foster                                                       

In earlier times Turquoises were sometimes thought responsible for the material wealth of their bearers. For example, Persian philosopher Al Kazwini wrote: "The hand wearing a Turquoise and using it as a sealing stone, will never be poor." Turquoises were loved as ornaments decorating turbans, often set in a border of pearls, in order to protect the wearer from the "evil eye". They were used as talismans decorating daggers, scimitars or the horses' bridles. Turquoise came to Europe only during the time of the crusades. And from this period comes the name "Turquoise", meaning simply "Turkish stone".


Also in South, Middle and North America, Turquoise has always enjoyed a special position among gemstones. For example, the ancient Aztecs in Mexico used to decorate their ceremonial masks with this stone, a "holy stone" in their belief. The North American Indians, who are still producing quite a few pieces of traditional silver jewelry set with Turquoises today, believed that the gemstone the color of the sky would establish a direct connection between the sky and the lakes.
 

At all times in history, Turquoise was worn as protection to ward off the influence of dark and evil powers. In former times thought to protect riders and horses from accidental falls, they are nowadays considered the ideal good-luck stones for aviators, flight staff and other professions which need special assistance to ward off accidents.


In the contemporary teachings of the Healing Power of Stones, wearing Turquoise is recommended to solve the problems caused by a depressed outlook on life. The bright and happy color is supposed to lend self-confidence to subdued personalities, and it is also very popular as a token of friendship, since Turquoise is reputed to be responsible for faithfulness and reliable relationships.

Turquoises are relatively soft gemstones and thus quite sensitive.
 
Since the color may also fade out in the course of wearing, today even the top qualities receive a waxing and subsequent hardening treatment. This procedure will make the sensitive gemstone sturdier. Turquoises which have been sealed with artificial resin are also available in large amounts and at competitive prices. Their colour appears fresh, and they show a high resistance. But one should be careful, because many of these stones have been additionally dipped in color before being sealed, and this coloring is a kind of treatment which according to the rules set down by ICA must be indicated. In addition, there are also so-called "reconstructed" Turquoises, which have been assembled from pulverised Turquoise.


Due to their high sensitivity, almost all Turquoises have been treated to preserve their beauty, however the kind of treatment differs considerably. It makes sense, then, that naturally beautiful stones which have simply been waxed or hardened with artificial resin achieve higher prices and are more valuable than stones which have received color-enhancement. Valuable Turquoise jewelry should therefore be purchased from a jeweler you can trust.

Turquoise is a copper aluminium phosphate achieving hardness six, thus considerably softer than quartz. It occurs naturally in all shades ranging from sky-blue to grey-green, usually in such locations where copper is hidden in the soil in high concentrations. However, only the best quality Turquoises show the real turquoise colour, which in ordinary stones is normally rather pale, blue-green or greenish.


The blue colour is caused by copper, while the green colour is caused by iron or chromium. Often the material is veined or shows spots, which (depending on the respective occurrence) are brown, light grey or even black. These vivid, more or less regular patterns are called the spider web. The micro-crystals are really tiny and almost not discernible with the bare eye. Usually turquoise occurs as encrustation, in veins or as nodules or nuggets. The most famous occurrences are situated in the USA, Mexico, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and China. The most beautiful of Turquoises in wonderful light blue are found in Northern Iran.

Turquoise is only rarely facetted. Usually it is shaped as cabochons or as beads, or even given a fancy cut for designer rings, designer bracelets, designer pendants and necklaces and designer earrings.

 

Preston Reuther Master Wire Sculptor

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