by Maegan Crandall
The American Southwest is home to beautiful, colorful landscapes, a rich history and gorgeous turquoise gems. Turquoise gemstones are found in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, as well as Iran the Sinai region of Egypt. Turquoise jewelry incorporates this gorgeous gemstone, which has been popular for centuries. Turquoise gems bring mysticism and passion to Southwestern jewelry pieces such as rings, pendants, earrings and bracelets. Turquoise jewelry, like most types of gemstone jewelry, has a rich history, and turquoise gemstones have an interesting composition. Learn more about Southwestern jewelry and turquoise jewelry with our facts about this fascinating stone.
History: Turquoise is very old, even among gems. The oldest known use of turquoise dates back to 3000 B.C.; turquoise embellishments have been found on Egyptian graves from this time period. Gemstone jewelry incorporating turquoise was also popular in ancient Egypt, and ancient Aztecs, Persians and North American Indians used turquoise in jewelry and ceremonial attire.
Appearance: Turquoise is easily identifiable by its blue-green hue. Turquoise can actually range in color from pale grey-green to brilliant bright-blue. Many turquoise gems also have black, grey, brown or metallic swirling veins and patterns. These patterns are often created by pyrite (fool's gold) or limonite and can make a piece of turquoise jewelry unique and exclusive.
Composition and origin: Turquoise is a mineral with a crystal system. It gets its blue hues from copper and its shades of green from iron. Turquoise is fairly soft with a rating of six out of ten on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Turquoise is mostly found in arid regions, including the American Southwest.
Treatments and imitations: Imitation turquoise has been around for centuries, and the closest replication was created by Pierre Gilson in 1972. Genuine turquoise is often treated to enhance its appearance. Oil and wax improve the color and shine of a stone; plastics can make turquoise more durable. Turquoise can be dyed, and sometimes small stones are ground into a powder and reconstituted to create one large gem.
Jewelry: Turquoise jewelry is truly spectacular. You can choose from pendants, earrings and rings with large turquoise stones to add a bright splash of blue-green color to anything in your wardrobe. Turquoise beads are popular; beaded bracelets and necklaces with turquoise beads or chips are fun and casual. If you have a December birthday, then add this birthstone to your collection in any form.