Turquoise jewelry has been loved for centuries for its vibrant blue color and unique beauty. Whether you are a long-time collector or a beginner looking to create your turquoise jewelry collection, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of what to look for when shopping for these captivating gemstones.
First, let’s take a more profound knowledge of turquoise jewelry. Turquoise jewelry is a popular and timeless style many cultures have adopted throughout history. Turquoise is a blue mineral often associated with copper mines. It has been used for decorative purposes for thousands of years and has cultural significance to many indigenous peoples.
Although this type of gem is not as expensive as diamond or sapphire, turquoise has just as many magical effects as these costly stones.
What is Turquoise?
Turquoise is an opaque type of mineral with a beautiful green color. The name “turquoise” is of French origin for Turkish, as the stone was first imported to Europe from Turkey. Mined from mines in Asia, the turquoise gem traveled along trade routes across
Turkey, hence the Turkish stone.
Its rarity and value in finer grades have been considered a gemstone for millennia due to its unique hue. Turquoise is formed over millions of years as water seeps through rocks that contain certain minerals, such as copper and aluminum. When this happens, a chemical reaction is triggered, and veins form, combining to create the turquoise Color.
The best turquoise achieves a maximum Mohs hardness of just under 6, slightly higher than window glass. The mineral hardness measurement, called The Mohs scale, is a type of qualitative scale, from 1 to 10, characterizing the scratch resistance of different minerals through the capacity of harder material to scratch softer material. Characteristically, a cryptocrystalline mineral turquoise rarely forms single crystals, and all its properties vary widely.
Now that you have learned turquoise, this beginner’s guide will give you the essential knowledge to make informed decisions and ensure you get the best value for your money.
1. Know More About Turquoise
Familiarize yourself with terms such as matrix, spiderweb, and stabilized turquoise. Learn about the various sources of turquoise, such as Sleeping Beauty, Kingman, and Persian turquoise. Understanding these terms and sources will help you make more informed decisions when purchasing turquoise jewelry.
Turquoise is a water-based stone that forms in mineral-rich rocks. Certain minerals in larger quantities give specific colors to these stones. Although most turquoise is blue, the Color can range from almost white to very bright shades of yellow-green, depending on where the turquoise was formed. Some turquoise stones have a network of fine lines from the original matrix within the stone. This type of turquoise is called a “spider web.”
There are many different types of turquoise, and each style has its characteristics. Some popular varieties include Persian turquoise, Sleeping Beauty turquoise, and Kingman turquoise. Study the types and understand their colors, matrices (vein patterns), and origins.
The quality of the turquoise you buy will reflect its quality. The highest quality stones come from specific locations and are often rated AA, AAA, or AAAA. AA or higher turquoise is usually more challenging to find. Standard jewelry-grade turquoise merits a grade of AA-, A, B, or C. Anything with a lower rate must be treated before being used in jewelry, which generally lowers its price.
Turquoise varieties are often known by where they are found. Each of these varieties has particular elements. For example, Persian turquoise is not as absorbent and porous as other types and, therefore, has a better luster. At the same time, American and Mexican varieties are pretty porous and have a lighter green color.
Some turquoise stones have a matrix, veining, or patterns within the stone. The matrix can enhance the stone’s uniqueness but is subjective, and preferences vary.
One popular type that is widely found is the turquoise matrix. This refers to the turquoise-containing portions of the host stone. If the matrix is included, this means it contains vein-like inclusions commonly found in turquoise.
2. Choosing Turquoise Cut
Turquoise is versatile and can be cut into many shapes, commonly cabochons, ovals, beads, and chips. Most turquoise is left smooth to highlight its color and texture.
Because natural turquoise is so beautiful, size is not the deciding factor in highlighting its beauty.
Turquoise is sometimes faceted or used in rough form, depending on the jewelry style.
3. Quality Factors
When purchasing turquoise jewelry, quality should be your top priority. Look for brightly colored stones with minimal matrix or veining. The color must be evenly distributed on the rock and not fade or discolor. If possible, avoid stones that have been treated or enhanced, as they can affect the durability and value of the jewelry. However, it is advantageous to know more about forms of jewelry treatments.
Types of Treatments
Unless marked as natural, most turquoise in jewelry stores has been treated somehow. Jewelers are legally required to disclose all treatments applied to turquoise stones sold. So, it always pays to ask if the pieces you are interested in have been treated in the room.
- Stabilization – This is the main form of treatment. The stone is treated with an epoxy resin or another substance to fill the pores to retain its color over time.
- Color Enhancement – Stones are sometimes treated with chemicals to enhance their colors. Treated turquoise is less expensive than the untreated variety, which can be very expensive depending on its grade.
4. Learn the Different Hardness Scale
Turquoise is porous and soft relative to diamond or sapphire. While a diamond has a score of 10 on the Mohs scale, the highest measurement given, turquoise, typically ranges from 2 to 6. Gemstones with a score of 2 will be very soft and porous and likely need to be treated. Turquoise scoring six can be used in jewelry without any treatment.
5. Consider the Place and Packaging
The place and setting where you will purchase turquoise jewelry can significantly impact its overall appearance and durability. Look for well-designed locations that hold the stone in place.
Please pay attention to the quality of the metal used in the design, whether silver, gold, or another precious metal. A well-made frame not only enhances the beauty of the turquoise but also ensures that it will last for many years.
Where to Buy Turquoise Jewelry
- Tiffany & Co. offers online purchase options and a brick-and-mortar building to make your turquoise jewelry purchases.
- Bernardine.com offers a wide range of designer turquoise jewelry pieces with stones sourced in Arizona, New Mexico, Iran, and Afghanistan. They combine details with other gemstones, such as opals and emeralds, and set in silver.
- SilverTribe has several unique turquoise jewelry pieces in Native and Southwestern-inspired styles. This includes chunky necklaces, single-stone rings, and inlaid earrings.
- Turquoise Jewelry is an expert in everything turquoise. They offer turquoise necklaces, rings, and bracelets crafted by Native American artisans.
- Custom Jewelry Designers: Consider working with a custom jewelry designer who can create a piece tailored to your preferences. This way, you can choose the type of turquoise, design, and setting for a truly unique piece.
6. Visualize What You Want
Deciding on the jewelry’s cut, size, and clarity before purchasing it will significantly affect the buying process. Turquoise is generally opaque, but you may be able to find translucent turquoise as well. Pay attention to the stone, which has a matte appearance with slight brilliance. Most turquoise jewelry contains matrix – the dark spidery inclusions ranging from dense to light.
Further, turquoise is often mined in large slabs and broken into smaller chunks for jewelry. You can find it in various sizes, although stones of about 4-8 carats usually work perfectly for jewelry.
7. Choosing the Best One For You
Luckily, turquoise is an adaptable colored gemstone that goes well with many colors. It best complements neutrals like white, brown, black, grey, and nude colors.
To create a striking contrast, pair your turquoise with warm colors. Opt for minimalist turquoise jewelry pieces to tone down the look if you want casual or office attire. If you’re going to glam for special events, then a statement piece of turquoise piece will stand out. Now that’s a head-turner piece!
8. Do a Budget Ceiling
Just as color, grade, and quality can vary widely from one turquoise to another, so too can the price of each stone. Prices may range from a few dollars per carat depending on where the stone was quarried, its color, and its hardness. Determine how much you are willing to spend. Turquoise comes in a wide range of prices, and knowing how much you will finish will help you narrow your options.
9. Beware of Fake
Modern technology has helped to invent many chemical formulas that produce an end product similar to turquoise. There are many imitations and synthetic versions of turquoise. Natural turquoise is often more valuable than imitations. Look for reputable sellers and ask about the stone’s authenticity.
10. Research and Ask
When purchasing turquoise jewelry, it is vital to buy from reputable sources. Look for jewelers or dealers specializing in turquoise and having a good reputation. Ask for certifications or guarantees of authenticity to ensure that you are getting genuine turquoise. Buying from reputable sources will give you peace of mind and ensure that you are getting a quality piece of jewelry. Choose sellers who guarantee the authenticity of their turquoise. Ask about the origin of the turquoise. Some locations are known for producing high-quality stones.
Authentic turquoise is a relatively soft gemstone that ranks 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that other stones that are harder than turquoise can create damage when they come into contact with it.
If turquoise is stored with harder stones, such as diamonds, they will be more susceptible to damage. The outer surface of turquoise is very porous, meaning it can absorb any liquid or gas it encounters.
Do not wear turquoise jewelry while doing any heavy work or when there is an increased risk of knocking stones against hard surfaces. Wearing turquoise jewelry while doing household chores like cleaning with harsh chemicals using harsh soaps, shampoos, or makeup can sometimes permanently damage them.
Also, always clean your jewelry with warm water and a soft cloth. Do not use a commercial jewelry cleaner since the chemicals may damage a stone’s surface. Use a dry fabric with a smooth surface to gently clean your turquoise jewelry after wearing it. Avoid harsh cleaning solutions or ultrasonic cleaners, as they may damage the stone.
Lastly, store turquoise jewelry separately from other hard stones like diamonds since rubbing against them may scratch the surface of the turquoise. Meanwhile, prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the color of turquoise to fade. Store your jewelry in a cool, dark place when not in use.
Turquoise jewelry remains a classic and stylish choice, appreciated for its cultural significance, natural beauty, and versatility in design. By educating yourself, prioritizing quality, considering the setting, buying from reputable sources, and trusting your instincts, you can make the best decisions and build a collection of turquoise jewelry you will cherish forever.