Turquoise: A Stone of Beauty

Lapidary

Turquoise (ter-k(w)oiz) is an opaque, blue to green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum CuAl6(po4)4(oh)8 4H20. Its specific gravity is 2.76 and it has a hardness of 5-6 on Mohs’ scale.  It is only found in a few places on earth.  Nevada is one such place that is world famous for its turquoise.  It is a dry and barren region where acidic, copper-rich ground water seeped downward and reacted with minerals that contain phosphorous and aluminum. The sedimentary process produced a porous, semi-translucent to opaque compound of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate.

Turquoise is an easy stone to work into a cabachon. Use water grinding wheels to shape them as you like.  Then, use water sanding wheels and a polish wheel to bring them to an awesome shine.  After you finish the cabachon it can be set into a piece of jewelry. You can use jewelry that’s already finished or make it yourself out of silver or gold.  Typically, silver is used. It is also soft enough to be carved into whatever your imagination can create.  Many civilizations throughout time used it to carve shapes such as animals or figures of humans.  Some turquoise has been treated with resins, so it is important to know where you’re getting your materials from. Also, it can be imitation or synthetic.  Sometimes a different type of rock is dyed to look like turquoise. It is common to dye Howlite so that it resembles turquoise.  Synthetics, on the other hand, can be made of ground-up materials that are glued together with a resin. They are easily identified because they does not look like natural turquoise.

Natural turquoise comes in many varieties of colors and matrixes.  The amount of copper gives it its beautiful color and matrixes can make the patterns in it.  Such veins are called spiderweb and can make the stone very expensive.  The location where turquoise is found is typically what gives it its name.  Some common examples from around the world are “Persian Blue”, “Robin’s Egg” and “Ithaca Peak”.  It is considered to have been used to make some of the oldest jewelry in the world and has even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs that date back to 4000 B.C.  Turquoise is one of the most beautiful stones to use for jewelry or carvings.  This is why it is one of my most favorite stones to work with.

Jay Paulson of Glendora Gems

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