Tempting Turquoise - Hunting for the Perfect Piece

Blue is the typical birthstone color for December.  Blue topaz is the standard on sale for this month.  The original birthstone was blue zircon, which is more rare and expensive.  A popular alternative for December is natural blue or green turquoise.  Since visiting a turquoise museum in New Mexico, I have wanted to do some additional research on turquoise, so this post makes a good excuse for doing so. The tour guide said at the time that turquoise with natural metal veining or black spider webbing was the most prized.

Silver SW Owl Ring with
Turquoise and Coral Inlay
Although turquoise is an ancient stone with lots of history and variations, jewelry made from it is high-fashion right now.  Whether it is the pure blue of Sleeping Beauty or the metallic matrix of Kingman’s Mohave dyed composites from mines in the USA, people love this blue color.  It also seems to go great with every color in a wardrobe.  Wear it in the latest styles, which include gold, bronze, or copper settings, or the still very popular southwest look of silver Indian jewelry.

It is best to get stabilized or enhanced stones rather than untreated as this prevents color fading.  Also bezel set is better than prong set as the stones are soft (Mohs scale 6 out of 10) and need the extra protection.  The stone is also heat sensitive, so do not cook or clean with this type of jewelry on. When shopping, be on the look out though, many retailers try to pass off dyed howlite as turquoise, but this is a less valuable stone.  Howlite versions typically have very pale veining, so ask the jeweler or a trusted turquoise expert to be sure before you buy.  China is now exporting turquoise of pretty good quality; this is usually referred to as Hubei, which is the region it comes from rather than an American Indian tribe to prevent possible confusion.

If you are concerned that you may still be overcharged when shopping at a store or vendor fair, check prices on-line before you go.  Some on-line sellers you might check out include: Paul Deasy, Kay King, Chaco Canyon, and of course JTV.  Another option is to buy a turquoise book or jewelry buying guide to take with you or download to an e-reader.  FYI, you may want to check out the video Identifying Real and Fake Turquoise featuring curator from New Mexico's Turquoise Museum. 

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