Chemically, turquoise is a hydrated copper aluminum phosphate. Turquoise has been known and used for jewelry and ornamental purposes since ancient times. It is definitely one of the oldest known stones.
Turquoise got its name because the stones were originally shipped through Turkey. Deposits in Egypt were totally depleted before 2000 BC. Long ago ancient peoples mined turquoise in the southwestern USA and there were many mines in what is now New Mexico. Turquoise artifacts are most commonly found at ancient sites such as Chaco Canyon in burial sites and the locations used for religious rites and offerings.
Turquoise has been associated with the American Southwest in modern times, but the stone came primarily from Persia in ancient times. Today deposits of turquoise can be found in Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, China, Mexico, Tanzania, and Australia as well as the US. However, the best turquoise still comes from northeastern areas of Iran.
Much turquoise is mixed with veins of other materials. Material with lots of foreign material is known at turquoise matrix. Turquoise is also found in combination with malachite or chrysocolla. Impurities will cause the color of the stone vary from the blue we associate with this stone – chromium or vanadium content creates yellow tones, iron imparts a green hue. Turquoise is a soft stone with a hardness of only 5-6.
Turquoise is a porous stone and is sensitive to perspiration, cosmetics and chemicals. The stone can also be affected by heat. Because it is porous, Turquoise stones are often “stabilized” by soaking in resin. The resulting material is more readily shaped into beads and cabochons. Reportedly only about 5% of the turquoise mined is hard enough to use without some type of treatment. Powdered turquoise can be mixed to glue, then baked to produce a harder material. Turquoise imitations also abound – everything from glass to other stones which have been dyed and even plastics.
To Native Americans, turquoise is closely associated with water and sky and turquoise is often paired with materials that reinforce this association such as shells (particularly spiny oyster) and coral.
There’s a lot of lore associated with turquoise: for many many years, turquoise has been thought to possess the power to protect riders from injury if they were to fall. It is said that no Native American warrior would ride out without his turquoise amulet. According to information that was a part of the recent Turquoise museum show in Santa Fe, Navajo babies receive turquoise beads at birth. Turquoise also was used as an amulet by Turkish soldiers, either worn by each man or attached to the horses’ bridles.
Turquoise has been thought to encourage friendship and promote communication. Some people think of Turquoise as a master healing stone that can align the chakras and instill an inner peace. it brings a soothing calmness and heals the mind. Turquoise is a talisman of luck, success, ambition and creativity. If you are wearing Turquoise many people believe that you and your possessions have protection from theft and attack.