Modern Turquoise: How It’s Made, The Different Grades, And What It All Means
Turquoise has been treasured for thousands of years in many cultures. Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Native North & South Americans, and Asians were intrigued by the stone’s beauty and beliefs in its positive energy for healing and spiritual influence. But even though it was sought by nearly all nobility in ancient times, commercially, turquoise is one of the most challenging stones for jewelry production because it is so soft and brittle.
Great strides have been made, however, in the treatment methods used to make turquoise more durable. Here are a few used today, and the one we use here at Sivana.
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Genuine Natural Turquoise
Untreated turquoise with the same properties it had when it came out of the ground (soft, brittle, varying color shades, etc.). Very little jewelry in the market actually contains “natural” turquoise (probably less than 1%).
Genuine Stabilized Turquoise
Turquoise that has been treated in various ways (heat, epoxy, and color dyes).
Most turquoise jewelry in the market is stabilized, including jewelry sold by all the major TV shopping networks, department stores, and jewelry retailers.
Even the highest grades of turquoise are often stabilized for better jewelry production and wearability.
Here are a few methods used in this important stabilization process:
- Turquoise may be color enhanced as well (i.e. purple, green, and other colors). It is still the same material and therefore still considered genuine turquoise by industry standards. Often referred to as “Mojave” and “Composite” turquoise.
- Smaller pieces of turquoise may be bonded together to form larger pieces. The individual pieces are all turquoise; therefore the entire stone is still considered genuine turquoise. Sometimes there may appear to be “cracks” in the stone but in reality, it is where two pieces have been joined together (and piece is still structurally sound and stable). The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) also refers to this as “Composite” Turquoise.
- Stones may be infused with copper or bronze, hence the copper color matrix you see primarily in the purple and green turquoise.
Check out our beautiful turquoise collection!
Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, and more- all ethically sourced and undeniably gorgeous.
Why it’s so Hard to Make Turquoise
Unfortunately turquoise is so valuable that most of the mines throughout the world are depleted- including historical sites used in ancient times. These are all small-scale operations, often seasonal owing to the limited scope and remoteness of the deposits. Most are worked by hand with little or no mechanization. This has made it extremely difficult to obtain and forced the price of pure turquoise skyrocket in the last decade.
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