Turquoise is a stone that we’re all allured by. A stone so special, it has its own color named after it. We all know what turquoise is, but what makes this stone so special? What is it about turquoise that is so alluring? The history of turquoise is perplexing and uncertain, truthfully, that’s part of the allure. To understand the importance of turquoise, let’s dig deeper.
Firstly, the main reason turquoise is so widespread today is due to 16th century trade between Europe and Persia. Khoasan, Persia had mines in what is modern day Turkey, and through trade with the French, turquoise received its modern name. The word turquoise comes from the French word ‘turquois” meaning Turkish. It said that turquoise was first discovered in the year 4000 BC in Persian civilization. The Persians were in trade with Europe and Asia through the silk road. The earth in the region where the Persians were mining was high in copper, giving the turquoise a stunning blue hue that was charming even across nations. Although Persia was crucial to turquoise trade, turquoise wasn’t only mined in the east.
Although turquoise had been in Mexico since roughly 600 BC, turquoise found in southeastern Arizona were dated to roughly 300 A.D. As far as how this turquoise was used, we can look towards the people who inhabited this very land first, The Native Americans. Turquoise was a very well loved and utilized commodity amongst many native tribes. It is true that across all native tribes, earth is sacred, revered as living, Turquoise is no exception to such. Turquoise also comes in many colors including white, bluish yellow, green-toned, and copper, Natives see this as the earth’s many hues and regard it as something very special and alluring.
The Navajo tribe regard the turquoise stone as a stone symbolizing power, status, and luxury. They also believe that the stone is a garner of good fortune, using it as a substance to ward off evil and bad luck by attaching it to baskets and ornaments hanging from the ceiling. This stone was used as a protection even on the battlefield for soldiers. The Navajo even believed that after a long period of drought, that human tears would seep through the earth and form turquoise underground. Even one of the goddesses of Navajo tradition, the changing woman, is depicted as being adorned with turquoise.
Beyond the Navajo, many tribes hold the stone close to their hearts. The Apache believe turquoise to be the rain that falls and settles at the end of a rainbow. The Apache also believed that the stone brought good luck and would make them skilled warriors and hunters. In more recent times, the Apache would attach turquoise on firearms, believing it would provide them with a better aim. Even the Pima people of Southern Arizona, called “The River People” believed the stone held the powers of skill and healing. The Zuni, Inca, Aztecs, and Mayans all believed that turquoise offered special protection from demons. The Zuni also believed that green turquoise held a feminine spirit, while blue held a masculine spirit. The Ojibwe people believed the stone held a different use and power. The Ojibwa adorned dream catchers with turquoise stones carved into the silhouette of a spider and fastened in it the center to commemorate Asibikaashi. Asibikaashi, the spider woman, is said to have brought the sun back to the people after the period of "missing sun".
There are many tales and legends of the origin and use of turquoise. The Hopi and Ojibwe believed the stone formed from the waste of lizards that traveled between what they called "the above" and "the below". We know today that the formation of turquoise is due to a chemical reaction between aluminum and copper. Aluminum and copper leaking through and seeping through holes and cracks in rocks is what creates the vein patterns in turquoise, which is why no two stones are the same. Blue stones and minerals are very rare in nature, which is why turquoise has a very special allure to it. The copper in turquoise is to thank for its fluorescent blue hue. Turquoise’s illusive, shocking blue tone is in fact so special, that it has its own name. Only few other minerals have names that circulate in day-to-day speech, those being silver, gold, and copper. Turquoise’s quality is generally based on a few characteristics. These characteristics include size, color brightness, and veins.
As far as grading turquoise goes, many people are not aware that there are many different types of turquoise as well. These different types of turquoise including Kingman, pilot mountain, white buffalo, Number 8, and campitos. Kingman turquoise is also referred to as turquoise mountain or “Bird’s Eye” and originates in northwestern Arizona. The kingman mine is one of the highest-producing mines in America and was found about 1,000 years ago by natives. Kingman turquoise is characterized by a sky-blue tone and many light blue variations. Pilot Mountain turquoise is from Pilot Mountain in Esmeralda County, Nevada and ranges from blue to green with a dark brown, black, or red-tone matrix. White buffalo turquoise technically, isn’t turquoise at all. Turquoise, chemically, is a deposit of Copper and Aluminum, while white buffalo is calcite and iron. However, white buffalo is a gorgeous white stone with a black matrix running through it. Number 8 is a mine located in Calin, Nevada that used to be a cold and copper mine; Number 8 is famous for it’s almost golden web matrix pattern contrasting a bright blue background. The reason number 8 is so special, though, is because the mine is now depleted, making number 8 very valuable. Campitos turquoise, mined in Sonora, Mexico and is a very special type of turquoise. Whereas most American turquoise grows in vein patterns as sediments between rocks, Campitos grows as clumps in between clay, giving it a special spotty pattern.
As you can see, turquoise is a very unique, special, and varying stone. Turquoise has a vast history, and seemingly a bright future as well. Turquoise is a beautiful and versatile stone that can be used for jewelry, decor, and even for as healing crystals. Whatever your purpose may be, turquoise is the way to go. After all, we’re all special, and we deserve a stone just as special.