Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Turquoise is, well, it’s a big category.  It’s been used as a treasured gemstone for thousands of years, it’s deeply adored by many as a talisman and there are LOTS of different kinds, colors and varieties. (Bonus - it looks great on everybody!)

But there’s turquoise - and then there’s real turquoise. Most turquoise in jewelry tends to be a turquoise-colored stone, of one variety or another. But not necessarily turquoise - the high grade, real stuff. Chemically, real turquoise is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. It's formed by the percolation of meteoric or groundwater through aluminous rock near copper. So it's often associated with copper deposits as a secondary mineral and most often in deposits located in arid, semiarid, or desert environments (often in the Southwestern US). A nice chart here - 

Purple, pink, orange, yellow and green rocks that have the same veining and texture as the soft stone of turquoise show up in jewelry but are usually howlite, a turquoise doppelganger. What does the real deal look like?

Sometimes this
(Southwest Spiderweb turquoise)

And this
(Sleeping Beauty turquoise)

or this
(Kingman turquoise)

And who are the turquoise doppelgangers?

There's Variscite-

Beautiful. Smoother and a bit greener, mint to emerald greens.
Found in West and Southwest US.

or Amazonite -

Light blue-green, more crystalline and a bit frosty.
Found in Brazil.

or Howlite

A white or creamy colored stone, named after Henry How. Howlite can be irregular nodules, looks like cauliflower. It's also known as "white turquoise" or "white buffalo turquoise".  Because it is so porous and has similar veining patterns, howlite can be easily dyed to imitate turquoise.

or Magnesite
Also white, very similar to howlite,  and can also be dyed to look like turquoise.

and Synthetic turquoise -

There's also a lot of grinding bits of real turquoise into a resin and producing a reconstituted turquoise, and there are all kinds of techniques that change it into a stronger, harder, more stable stone.

What kinds of goodies do I have in my shop? Well, a little bit of everything.
Here are some of the turquoise, and turquoise-doppelganger stones available -
bright blue magnesite on silver

aqua chalcedony, blue quartz and green chalk turquoise

yellow howlite on silver

orange howlite on silver

I haven't got anything quite this awesome -

But, if I do, I'm making some earrings with it.


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