By Terry Garfield
Since its discovery, turquoise has always been widely cherished and considered valuable due to its bright blue or green hue. This “second” mineral has a rich history dating back to ancient times, as it was first mined in Persia and even ancient Egypt. Today, the southwestern US acts as the principal source for turquoise mining, including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Colorado. Native Americans commonly used the colorful mineral when making jewelry and other adornments, which is why we can still find Native American jewelry being created today with turquoise.
Sleeping Beauty Turquoise
Different turquoise mines have produced a variety of the mineral, all appearing unique based on where it originated from. Sleeping Beauty turquoise is one of the most valuable types of turquoise in modern times, and can only come from its mine in Globe, Arizona. Sleeping Beauty turquoise is known for its pure blue sky color, along with its natural strength. Most commonly, it is used for jewelry, and is often stable enough to be polished and used without any treatment or stabilization techniques. These characteristics of Sleeping Beauty turquoise jewelry only add to its value, making it one of the most sought after forms of turquoise today. Wondering where it got its name? It just so happens, that the mountain where Sleeping Beauty turquoise is mined resembles a woman, sleeping on her back with crossed arms.
Found in the Mohave county of western Arizona is one of the oldest mines in American history. The famous Kingman Turquoise Mine has been around since the late 1880s, and is the sole producer of Kingman turquoise in the world. Similar to Sleeping Beauty turquoise, it is known for its magnificent sky blue color, yet it also can have many variations in its appearance. A different part of the mountain where its mined, for example, produces a green turquoise instead. The Kingman Turquoise Mine has historically been one of the largest turquoise suppliers to the US, and especially to the southwestern turquoise industry itself. First the Kingman Turquoise Mine, this valuable mine has gone through many owners and name changes, and is now called the Colbaugh Processing Inc. Still today, the Colbaugh family runs the mine together, and continues to help gather Kingman turquoise to be worn as gorgeous jewelry, not just all over the country, but all over the world.
Carico Lake Turquoise
Traveling to another part of the country, we can find Carico Lake turquoise. With its home in Lander Country, Nevada, this unique form of turquoise comes in all shades of blue and green. Carico Lake turquoise has become more popular over the years as people have begun to place a higher value on green turquoise. This specific form of the second mineral also typically features a brown, to golden brown, “spider web matrix.” This means that most of the Carico Lake turquoise mined has brown, curving lines, that run through the stone, giving it the look of a spider web design. This turquoise mine produces green turquoise due to the existence of faustite. When the faustite reacts with the zinc already associated with turquoise formation, it causes the stone to produce a wonderful green tone, which makes it so unique.
While there are innumerable forms of turquoise known to man, Sleeping Beauty, Kingman, and Carico Lake turquoise are some of the most well-known and sought after today. The value of turquoise has continued to rise throughout history, as it becomes less available, while at the same time more and more people fall in love with its natural beauty and strength.
Author Bio: Terry Garfield is a writer specializing in Native American art and jewelry. Terry enjoys exploring the wide variety of stones, gems, and of course turquoise, that are commonly used by Native American artists still today. Terry works with Two Grey Hills, a Native American art gallery and retailer in Jackson Hole, WY (www.fineindianart.com/). The gallery specializes in Native American jewelry, with many items incorporating different gems and a wide variety of turquoise.
About This Blog:
The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!