ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Turquoise has intrigued various cultures for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and Native Americans have been fascinated by the stone’s beauty and their belief in its positive energy (i.e., healing, love, happiness, etc.).
“Natural stones are merely treated to resemble turquoise, with matrix and all, but are not miraculously transformed into turquoise”
“Turquoise is indeed a beautiful gemstone with infinite variations of colors, shades and matrixes,” explains Romie Salem of Turquoise Outlet, a prominent Southwest-style silver jewelry liquidator. “Even the same mine will rarely contain more than few hundred pounds of nearly identical turquoise.”
Commercially, turquoise is one of the most challenging stones to use in jewelry production. Its brittleness and lack of color uniformity make it extremely difficult to produce and market on a large scale. Over the past few decades, however, great strides have been made to improve the durability and color consistency of turquoise. As a result, mass production of turquoise jewelry has become possible.
Given the different treatment methods and turquoise look-alikes that have flooded the market, buyers need to understand the terminology. Salem highlights the five most common types of turquoise (or turquoise imitations):
“NATURAL”: Turquoise that has not been treated in any way, and is relatively soft and brittle. “Most people are shocked to hear that very little turquoise on the market, probably less than one percent, is actually ‘natural’ turquoise,” says Salem. “It’s just too difficult and expensive to mass-produce, and it does not hold up well to daily wear and tear.”
“STABILIZED”: Turquoise that has been treated in various ways using epoxy, acrylic and colorful dyes. “Most genuine turquoise on the market is stabilized, including jewelry sold by all the major TV shopping networks, department stores and jewelry retailers,” cites Salem. “Even the highest grades of turquoise, such as Sleeping Beauty, are often stabilized for better jewelry production and wear.”
Salem points out that all turquoise jewelry sold by his company, Turquoise Outlet, is genuine stabilized turquoise in accordance with industry standards.
Other notes regarding stabilized turquoise:
- Turquoise may be color enhanced as well (i.e., blue, green, purple and other colors). It is still the same material and therefore still considered genuine turquoise.
- Smaller pieces of turquoise may be bonded together to form larger pieces. The individual pieces are NOT crushed into powder, as is the case with reconstituted turquoise (discussed below). Salem notes that while sometimes there may appear to be cracks in the stone, in reality it is where pieces have been joined together. The issue is generally cosmetic and does not compromise the structure or stability of the overall stone.
“RECONSTITUTED”: Absolutely NOT genuine turquoise! It contains a very small amount of turquoise that has been ground into a powder and mixed with other materials and chemicals. “It is unethical and misleading to refer to this type of material as genuine turquoise,” insists Salem.
IMITATION/PLASTIC/RESIN/BLOCK: Obviously NOT turquoise at all, but simply a mix of chemicals.
DYED HOWLITE/OTHER NATURAL STONES: NOT turquoise. “Natural stones are merely treated to resemble turquoise, with matrix and all, but are not miraculously transformed into turquoise,” laughs Salem. “Unfortunately, this material has become prevalent and falsely marketed as turquoise by unscrupulous dealers over the past decade or so.”
Information is provided courtesy of Turquoise Outlet, a division of National Jewelry Buyers. For more information, visit www.TurquoiseOutlet.com.