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.
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.
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.
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.
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.