Turquoise is the Traditional December Birthstone

Turquoise necklaceTurquoise is the traditional December birthstone and it’s popular for jewelry.  It’s one of my favorite gemstones. The word turquoise comes from the French word for Turkey.  The name for the stone is historical since turquoise was originally brought to Europe along with other goods on trade route to Europe that ran through Turkey.

Turquoise has been used for jewelry and ornament since ancient times. Examples are Egyptian turquoise artifacts that go back as far as 5000BC.   The Aztecs and Native American cultures valued turquoise for jewelry and for talismans.

We usually think of turquoise as sky blue, but it is difficult to find pure blue SW USA turquoiseturquoise.  Most turquoise is a mix of colors combined with “spider veins” and black or brown markings known as turquoise matrix.

Turquoise colors range from blue green through various shade of green.  Chemically, turquoise is a copper aluminum phosphate which is blue.  However, much of the turquoise found in the United States contains some iron that has substituted for the aluminum.  The iron provides a greenish hue.

Turquoise is found in many places:  Stone of Eilat is a greenish blue turquoise stone from Israel; Tibetan turquoise is a vivd blue; Persian turquoise is intensely blue and often has no black or brown markings; Kingman turquoise from the US is a strong blue; Navajo turquoise from the southwestern US varies from blue to green shades and has black and brown markings.  According to some, the best turquoise is found in Iran (Persia), but quality turquoise is also found in Afghanistan, South America, Mexico, and China, as well as in the United States.

turquoise braceletTurquoise is often used for beads and cabochons.   You need to take care of your turquoise jewelry.  Turquoise is a soft stone that is susceptible to damage from household cleaners and detergents, cosmetics, perspiration and scratching.  Because of this, you should remove your rings when washing your hands.

The rough turquoise material is often tumbled and is used as chips, too.  Since turquoise rough is soft, it is frequently soaked in resin to improve its color and to make the turquoise harder.

If you have questions about this article, ask me and please leave your comments below


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