About Unique Semiprecious Stones: Turquoise Tidbits

Why is turquoise one of the most popular and valuable semiprecious stones in today’s jewelry market?  One reason is its color which varies from almost white to intense green to greenish blue to sky blue.

Turquoise Cabochons

Another reason is that it looks great in multiple settings from casual to elegant.  Almost all deposits of turquoise in the United States are found in volcanic hydrothermal desert regions like Arizona and Nevada within 180 feet of the surface.  

Morenci Turquoise Pendant

High quality untreated turquoise is rare.  Most turquoise bought today will be treated with a generally accepted process called turquoise stabilization.   In the stabilization process, nuggets are dried and then an epoxy is forced into the stone under intense pressure.  The treated turquoise is sealed and allowed to dry slowly.  The epoxy heightens color and makes the stone harder.  Stabilized turquoise can be cut and polished as well or better than natural turquoise.  

Be cautious because turquoise has been faked for centuries.  Blue resin can be made to look like turquoise but you can tell if it’s fake by touching it with a hot needle.  It will burn and give off a plastic odor.  Also, it’s much lighter in weight.  There are other minerals that can be made to look like turquoise.  The best example is howlite stone with spider web veins like the one in the photo.     

Polished Howlite Stone

It’s softer, lighter, cheaper, more common and can be dyed to look exactly like turquoise.  If you can see white inside of a bead’s hole, it’s most likely howlite. 

Dyed Howlite

Take care of your beautiful turquoise by cleaning it occasionally with mild soap and warm water.  Inks, cloth dyes, fruits, and oily skin can stain your turquoise. Extended exposure in strong sunshine may cause cracks and color fading.  Never store your turquoise in an airtight package because it can loose its luster.     

 Now for the hard question.  How do you keep the fabulous sterling setting highly polished while allowing air to the turquoise?  Any ideas?  My silver always seems to need polishing. 

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4 Responses to About Unique Semiprecious Stones: Turquoise Tidbits

  1. Rosemary says:

    Not a comment but a question. Is there any way to restore the colour to a necklace of turquoise chips? The seem to be genuine but probably were colour-enhanced, but have faded. No great monetary value but lots of sentimental value.

    • Rosemary, without seeing the beads its hard to say what might restore the color. If the turquoise is hard enough, tumbling the necklace for about two hours in soapy water and ceramic media may get the job done. You can mail the necklace and I can determine if tumbling will work. If they are hard enough, I will tumble the necklace for you for $20. If it doesn’t work, there will be no charge other than shipping. I may have some other options for restoring color once I see the beads. My address is:

      Preston Adcox
      330 Greenridge Rd.
      Georgetown, TX. 78628

      my email address is prestonadcox@suddenlink.net

  2. Katie says:

    I was recently trying to repair my turquoise ring and long story short I ended up burning the stone. As a result, instead of bring a beautiful gorgeous royal blue color, it has turned to a swampy greenish color. I am truly devastated and was wondering if there was any hope in restoring it back to the color it once portrayed. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Rosemary if you would like to mail it to me I will try to repolish the stone. This will work if it’s not burned too deep. The stone will need to be reset. Will send you an estimate before starting.

      Preston Adcox
      330 Greenridge Rd
      Georgetown TX. 78628

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