Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

North American Turquoise

Carico Lake Turquoise nugget beads, Carico Lake Turquoise cabochons, Carico Lake Turquoise rough, Carico Lake Turquoise specimens

 Carico Lake Turquoise is named after the location of the Nevada mine in a dried up lake bed. Known for it's varied shades of brillaint green which is due to the zinc content. It is considered highly unique & collectible. Carico Lake turquoise is limited in availability because the mine is primarily a gold producing mine which only produces turquoise occasionally.

Castle Dome Turquoise nugget beads, Castle Dome Turquoise cabochons, Carico Lake Castle Dome rough,, Castle Dome Turquoise specimens Castle Dome/Pinto Valley Turquoise comes from the Castle Dome copper mine which was originally opened in 1943 and turquoise mined then was called Castle Dome turquoise. The mine was closed in 1953 and later re-opened as the Pinto Valley Mine. The mine was bulldozed over in the late 1970's and all material on the market today comes from some rockhounds "old stash" With beautiful color variations ranging from sky-blue to bluish-green with the blue color being predominate, this turquoise is truly a high quality turquoise and a collectable treasure!
Damele Turquoise beads, Damele turquoise cabochons, Demale Turquoise specimen nuggets

 The Damale Turquoise mine is located thirty miles from Austin, Nevada. Damale Turquoise is distinctive because of the zinc content that turns the stone yellow-green and increases its hardness. The matrix of Damale is webbed with a dark brown to black matrix. It’s availability is limited because the mine is small. Due to its rare color, Damale is a collectible turquoise.

Dry Creek Turquoise nugget beads, Dry Creek Turquoise cabochons, Dry Creek Turquoise rough, Dry Creek Turquoise specimens

 Dry Creek Turquoise gets its color from the heavy metals in the ground where it forms. The Dry Creek Turquoise mine is located outside of Austin, Nevada in Lander County and is on the opposite side of the mountain from the Godber (Brunham) Dry Creek turquoise mine. The Godber (Brunham) Dry Creek turquoise mine is towards Eureka and the Dry Creek turquoise mine is towards Battle Mountain, Nevada. Both mines have produced the light pastel (milky) blue turquoise material. Blue turquoise forms when there is copper present and green turquoise forms where iron is present, the turquoise from the Dry Creek mine has no heavy metals present, thus the pastel color. This is a very rare occurrence. These mines produce a creamy pastel-blue and blue-white turquoise, very hard, gemmy and available only in very small quantities. The matrix in Dry Creek Turquoise is typically light golden or brown-gray to gray-black. This is definitely collectors turquoise!

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

 Emerald Valley turquoise mine is a newer active, small-scale mine located in southwestern Nevada near the Royston deposits. The color varies from a deep forest green to bright grass green and sometimes blue hues.  It is sometimes highlighted by golden brown or a beautiful copper matrix.  This mine is still producing.!

Fox Turquoise nugget beads, Fox Turquoise cabochons, Fox Turquoise rough, Fox Turquoise specimens

 The Fox Turquoise mine in Nevada was first owned by the Indians and was purchased early on by white men for mining. It is one of the oldest and largest turquoise mines in this particular area. Today Fox Turquoise is produced in many shades of beautiful blue, wonderful greens and aqua's that may have white marks, deep black matrix, or just stone. The product varies from fine vein material to chunky, nuggets with wonderful natural water webbing.

Kingman Turquoise nugget beads, Kingman Turquoise cabochons, Kingman Turquoise rough, Kingman Turquoise specimens

 The Kingman Turquoise is found in a copper mine northwest Arizona (known as the Kingman Mine). Kingman turquoise range in colors which run from light blue to very dark blue and also various tints of green. The matrix is from light brown to black and frequently flecked with pyrite.

Lone Mountain Turquoise beads, Lone Mountain turquoise cabochons, Lone Mountain Turquoise specimen nuggets

 The Lone Mountain Turquoise mine is located in Nevada and is only active occasionally, this mine has also been known as Blue Jay Mine. Lone Mountain Turquoise ranges in color from clear blue to spider-web. Lone Mountain Turquoise is considered very collectible, holds its beautiful blue color well and doesn't fade.

Morenci Turquoise nugget beads, Morenci Turquoise cabochons, Morenci Turquoise rough, Morenci Turquoise specimens

 Morenci Turquoise is well known and considered to be very collectible. It is high to light blue in color and is very difficult to obtain now because the Arizona mine is depleted. Morenci has an unusual matrix of irregular black pyrite that, when polished, often looks like silver.

New Lander Turquoise nugget beads, New Lander Turquoise cabochons, New Lander Turquoise rough, New Lander Turquoise specimens

 New Lander Turquoise is mined in Northern Nevada near the Lander Blue Mine, but differs from Lander Blue turquoise in that it has a green to yellow-green color, often with a beautiful dark spiderweb matrix. New Lander Is known for it’s wild patterns and color characteristics. This turquoise is so very unique that it is hard to find the same type twice. It consists of turquoise mixed with calcasiderite, varasite, and faustite. All of these combine to form one very fun and unique stone.

Number 8 Turquoise nugget beads, Number 8 Turquoise cabochons, Number 8 Turquoise rough, Number 8 Turquoise specimens

 The Number 8 Turquoise mine in Northern Nevada has produced some of the finest turquoise in beautiful green and blues shades and was a well known turquoise mine in the 40's. The product from this mine was some of the most sought after in the Nevada area and it is known for it's spider-web black or golden matrix. The mine was depleted in 1961 and is no longer producing today.

Pilot Mountain Turquoise nugget beads, Pilot Mountain Turquoise cabochons, Pilot Mountain Turquoise rough, Pilot Mountain Turquoise specimens

 The Pilot Mountain Turquoise mine in northern Nevada is still producing and is worked by one family. Pilot Mountain Turquoise is sought after for its deep blue-green colors and often will show a mixing of blue and greens in the same stone.

Pixie Turquoise nugget beads, Pixie Turquoise cabochons, Pixie Turquoise rough, Pixie Turquoise specimens

 The Pixie Turquoise Mine is in northern Nevada and has not been active for some time. This Pixie Turquoise is spectacular shades of light and dark greens, it is vein material and is hard to get. These specimens will make wonderful collectors pieces!

Royston Turquoise nugget beads, Royston Turquoise cabochons, Royston Turquoise rough, Royston Turquoise specimens

 Royston Turquoise is known for its beautiful colors ranging from deep green to rich, light blues set off by a heavy brown matrix. The mine is in Nevada and is still producing a limited amount of turquoise that is considered to be very collectible.

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise nugget beads, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise cabochons, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise rough, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise specimens

 Sleeping Beauty mine located in Arizona, is the largest in North America and is till operating. Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is noted for its bright blue color with moderate black to no matrixing and is the favorite turquoise for use in inlay work of the Zuni Indians.

Turquoise Mountain Turquoise nugget beads, Turquoise Mountain Turquoise cabochons, Turquoise Mountain Turquoise rough, Turquoise Mountain Turquoise specimens

 Turquoise Mountain Turquoise comes from a mine in northwestern Arizona that was closed in the 1980s. It has light to high blue, with both webbed and non-webbed matrix. This turquoise has also been sold under the name of "Old Man" Turquoise and the same mine also produced "Birds Eye" Turquoise.

Tyrone Turquoise nugget beads, Tyrone Mountain Turquoise cabochons, Tyrone Mountain Turquoise rough, Tyrone Mountain Turquoise specimens Tyrone Turquoise
comes from the Tyrone copper mine in New Mexico. No turquoise has been mined from this mine since the early 1980’s when the mine owners changed the method of copper ore processing to crushing and acid wash. This method, obviously, destroys any turquoise in the copper ore. Any Tyrone turquoise found in new jewelry or beads is from private stashes. It is a medium blue in its high grade form. Today, it is valued both for its beauty and rarity.

What is Turquoise?

Turquoise is a hydrous copper aluminum sulfate. It has been mined from at least 6000 BC by early Egyptians. The use of turquoise as a beautiful ornamental decoration can be traced to Native Americans as well as Persians. 

Turquoise can be sky blue to apple green and any shade of blue, green or teal in between. Being a fairly soft stone (5.5-6.5 on the mohs scale), turquoise often is not suitable for cutting into stones and beads used for jewelry applications and that is why 95% of the turquoise for sale on the market today has been "stabilized" (a process using pressure and heat to fill the microscopic gaps in the stone with plastic resin, thus making the stone hard enough to cut and polish). The mineral turquoise is formed by a chemical reaction which occurs when water containing specific minerals such as copper and aluminum leak through a rock. Varying amounts of Copper and iron change the color shades. The copper is what gives the mineral its blue coloring and high iron levels mean greens and yellows predominate. Most of the time, turquoise occurs as vein or seam fillings, and as compact nuggets; that are mostly small in size. Different mines are known for their color shades, but no matter what country, turquoise is comprised of the same minerals and the beauty transcends the boundaries of location. Some turquoise contains inclusions of its host rock (known as matrix) that appear as black or brown spider-webbing or patches within the material.

Turquoise is often recovered as a byproduct of large-scale copper mining operations and throughout history, deposits of turquoise have been found in the following countries; Afghanistan, Africa, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, Iran (Persia), Israel, Mexico, Russia, Siberia, Tibetan, Turkey and the United States. Currently it is mostly mined in the China, Iran, Mexico, Tibet and the United States.

Large mines were reported around 3,200 BC in the Sinai. The oldest known source of Chinese turquoise is the Maghara Wadi mines in the Sinai Peninsula. China has been a minor source of turquoise for more than 3,000 years and even today turquoise is being mined there. These deposits found have been found in Anhui, Maanshan, Sichuan, Yunxian, Zhushan and Hubei province. Currently producing mines include the Anhui turquoise mine has just recently been opened and produces natural high blues. Located in a remote area of northwest of East China, along Yangtze River Basin, the material is difficult to obtain being deep under the ground, 100 meters, in which the miners have to drill deep holes to obtain the material and hand carry it out of the region. Hubei Chinese turquoise is mined in the north west of Hubei province near to Wudangshan (Wudang Mountain). This small surface deposit of turquoise was discovered while looking for Iron ore and is very beautiful color shades due to the high iron content present.

Mexico turquoise is currently fairly available on the market with several recent mines re-opening. Most of Mexico's turquoise comes from Sonora directly below the Arizona border. Campitos turquoise comes from the Pino Chueco mine in Sonora, Mexico which has produced turquoise, since the mid-1980s that is medium light-blue with no matrix and some pyrite. Campitos turquoise is very unique in that it is found as free-form nuggets in clay material, rather than in rock veins. Also in Sonora, the Campo Frio mine produces greenish stone sometimes with spiderweb and often pyrite in the matrixing. The Nacosari turquoise mine is located in north western Mexico, in a large open pit copper mine is producing clear bright blue turuqoise. Because of an unstable political situation in this region, the mine and local government has stopped mining of the rough, and if caught with the rough it is confiscated.

United States
In the US, deposits of turquoise have been found in the following states; Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Virginia. Only a small percentage of them are still producing with the majority being depleted or closed down.

See turquoise collection HERE

Quality and Grades of Turquoise:

Turquoise is a hydrated aluminum copper phosphate that often contains iron. Turquoise has been popular since prehistoric times and has been used in jewelry dated from 5000 BC. It is mined in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, China, Peru, Chili, Mexico, Persia (Iran) and other areas. There are many different qualities and materials marketed as turquoise.

  • High Grade Natural Turquoise: found in all shades from sky blue to apple green. It is the hardest grade and takes the best polish. The contrast between the color of turquoise and the color of matrix (or “mother” rock) enhances the beauty of each stone. Many mines produce distinctive stones whose origin can be identified by an experienced person. 
  • Enhanced turquoise: The Zachery or Foutz process impregnates turquoise with vaporized quartz. This makes the stone harder, darkens the color and takes a good polish. This process is hard to detect by normal methods because quartz occurs naturaly with some turquoise. (See GIA’s Spring 1999 issue of Gems & Gemology.) 
  • Stabilized Turquoise: American & China manufacturers have perfected a process using pressure and heat to fill the microscopic gaps in the stone with plastic resin. When cured the product is a treated stone hard enough to cut and polish. Most beads, nuggets and some heishi that have been drilled are made from real turquoise that has been stabilized. 
  • Wax Treated: Much of the turquoise from China is wax impregnated. The paraffin treatment deepens and stabilizes the color but only affects the surface. 
  • Reconstituted: This term describes pulverized turquoise scrap from stone cutting mixed with blue dye and plastic binder. Most products marketed under this name should really be labeled as simulated “block.” Compressed Nugget is a similar product made from larger pieces. · Block: A mixture of plastic resin and dyes that is produced in loaf sized blocks. We used to call this reconstituted because we were told it was made from ground up turquoise scraps. In reality there is no actual rock of any sort in block turquoise; it is entirely man-made and should be labeled “simulated.” Block is produced in many colors, simulating many different stones and shells. Except for occasional batches of Lapis Block that contain ground up iron pyrite, these are entirely simulated. Block is used heavily for inlay and heishi. 
  • Dyed Stones: There are several naturally occurring stones that look similar to turquoise when they are dyed blue. These include Howlite, a white rock with black or gray markings, and Magnite or Magnesite, a chalky white mineral that forms in rough nodules looking faintly like the vegetable cauliflower. Other simulations include glass, plastic, faience ceramic and polymer clay. 

Turquoise Trivia:

  • Turquoise is the anniversary gemstone for the 5th year of marriage. 
  • Turquoise is the US State Gemstone of Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. 
  • Turquoise has been thought to warn the wearer of danger or illness by changing color. 
  • In the 13th century, Turquoise was thought to protect the wearer from falling especially from horses. 
  • Legend has it that the Indians believed that if turquoise was affixed to a bow, the arrows shot from it would always hit their mark. It was also believed to bring happiness and good fortune to all. 
  • Turquoise started being used before 4000 BC.

Gemstones from American Mines

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

 Utah Tiffany Stone - comes only from the Brush Wellman beryllium mine in the Western deserts of Utah. The mine is not public for collecting and very little of this material is available. It is a soft to hard Opalized stone composed of predominantly Opalized fluorite (blues, purples and whites), often with many other minerals such as Agate, Dolomite, Rhodonite, Manganese oxide, Beryllium and others. It often has a "crackled" appearance and is considered one of the most scarce, beautiful and unusual stones in the world.

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

 Utah Picasso Marble  is a common building stone, it is a classic sculptors stone. Some marbles are famous such as Italian white and Belgian black marble. The colors vary and may be found in pinks, yellows, and browns. Marble is a soft rock and yet dense in structure. It was once limestone in the Precambrian era. The sedimentary limestone masses were sometimes contacted by hot magnas and the pressure altered the limestone. Other minerals from the magna then infiltrated the limestone causing feathery lines and beautiful designs such as Picasso Marble found in Beaver County, Utah. The scenic effect and color contrast in black and gold has made this marble a popular cutting rock for the lapidarest.

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

Utah Septarian Nodules – Septarians were formed millions of years ago when the Gulf of Mexico reached what is now Southern Utah. Decomposing sea life, killed by volcanic eruptions, had a chemical attraction for the sediment around them, forming mud balls. As the ocean receded, the balls were left to dry and crack. Because of their bentonite content they also shrank at the same time trapping the cracks inside. As decomposed calcite from the shells was carried down into the cracks in the mud balls, calcite crystals formed. A thin wall of calcite was transformed into aragonite separating the bentonite heavy clay exteriors from the calcite centers. Because of this, the nodules are called Septarians.

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

Utah Wonderstone – Rhyolite is volcanic. This particular variety was once a very fine volcanic ash. Through pressure and time this ash became rock hard as the colorful chemicals such as iron in the earth seeped through and swirled into a glorious design producing a smooth texture for a soft, desireable cutting material. This wonderstone is only found in the fishlake mountains of Utah near Salina, Utah, Sevier county.

white buffalo beads, white buffalo cabochons White Buffalo stone (NV) ... a lot of sellers call it White Buffalo Turquoise, but it is NOT turquoise in makeup though it was discovered in a turquoise mine in Tonapah, Nevada. The white stone is surrounded by black and brown chert which creates beautiful patterns and matrixing. Beware that howlite is is often represented as White Buffalo, but it is more of a cream white with grey erratic veining and not black. Howlite is very common and White Buffalo comes from only one mine in Nevada.

To learn about the myth of White Turquoise ... read this article by the Native American Jewelry tips web site

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

 Wild Horse (AZ) is the name given to this stone, whose geological name is magnesite which is a mixture magnesite/hematite. This stone that was discovered in the mid-90's near the Globe copper mine in the Gila wilderness area of southern Arizona and only comes from there. Only a few years after the mine was opened, they closed it again, so any material on the market today has been stashed away in some prospectors garage. Some have called it Wild Horse Turquoise but it is NOT turquoise! Since so far, there only seems to be one source for Wild Horse and also because of it's beauty . . . it has retains a high value and is a remarkably popular.

Primavera Stone (AZ) - Primavera stone is mined in Arizona from a Gold, Silver, Lead and Copper mine. Completely natural in color formations and patterns, it is a combination of the many minerals including yellow wulfinite, blue/green chrysocolla, green luddenite, neon green fornacite and more including quartz.  These mineral combinations produce a huge variety of vibrant shade of greens with some yellow ... really cool fr spring designs.

Other Rare & Hard-to-find Gemstones

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

 Gaspeite – We are pleased to offer, hard to come by Gaspeite beads! A light, almost apple green color is quite unique and some varieties are almost a neon green. It may contain tan to brownish patches of matrix which gives it a distinctive character. This stone is named for the location of the original discovery in Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, Canada where material was found that was NOT suitable for the jewelry industry. We only have one source for this treasured stone and he tells us that the last discovery of "cuttable" material (meaning hard enough and of good quality for use in jewelry & beads) was in 1990 in Weegemoogha, Australia. This discovery was a 40 ton block of Gaspeite, with only 27 tons of cuttable material, so YES the availability of this stone will eventually run out to the jewelry industry. It is considered both RARE and collectable. Gaspeite has a hardness of 5.

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

Larimar, the Gemstone of the Caribbean, is only mined in one location in the Dominican Republic and is therefore highly sought after and collectable! Know & loved for its shades of extraordinary blue color often resembling the clear blue oceans in tropical areas. The name "Larimar" comes from a combination of Larissa and Mar and was given to the stone by a Dominican who named the stone after his daughter Larissa and Mar, the Spanish word for sea. 

muscovite beads at www.stonesnsilver.com

Muscovite Quartzite – Art Smith, Mineralogist-Geologist wrote: I did a microscopic examination of the bead material that you call Muscovite. It is a natural stone, probably a metamorphic rock called quartzite. It is composed of well-fused grains of clear to slightly cloudy quartz with interspearsed flakes of pale tan, slightly iron stained, mica that is probably muscovite. The iron staining seems to be most concentrated on the edge of the muscovite flakes and so emphasizes them when the stone is polished. This is an excellent hard and durable stone that will make good beads, cabochons or other lapidary items.

rainbow calsilica beads and cabochons at stonesnsilver.com

 Rainbow Calsilica is an opaque gem with colorful stripes/layers of light and dark blue, green, yellow, orange, red, white/cream, black and even pink. Rainbow Calsilica is a popular gem and is sometimes available as cabochons, carvings and beads.  This layered spectrum of vibrant colors is a composition of calcite and silica, found in quartz and a major component of sand.  It has been claimed to be mined in Chihuahua, Mexico were it was allegedly discovered in the veins or seams of volcanic rhyolite in the mine with photos of the material in the mine existing, however, when tested by the Swiss Gemological Institute, their findings determined that the base white materials were indeed Calcite, with man-made coloring pigments within the specimens.  Whether bonded naturally or synthetically with a clay mineral called allophane, and the reddish layers hematite is present and Celestine in the pitch-dark (black).  Natural or not, it is a beautiful stone and jewelry designers love it.

spiny oyster lions paw beads

 Spiny Oyster shell comes from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico and has always been a favorite of the Native American Indian jewelry artists and can be found in various shades of orange, red and purple. There are limited suppliers for the Spiny Oyster beads and cabochons and we always try to hand pick these strands to eliminate as much white on the beads as possible. 

The Lions Paw Scallop Shells are very similar to Spiny Oyster, except that the interior of the shell has less white.  They are a peachy orange on one side with purple on the inside thus making are really gorgeous two-color bead! The Lions Paw is found from the Carolina's to the Gulf of Mexico and down the Atlantic side of South America. The Lions Paw beads are not as available on the market as Spiny is and they usually sell out fast!  We even have some pendant beads right now!

Turquoise and Rare Stone Information

Sugilite is a somewhat obscure mineral named for the Japanese geologist who discovered the first specimens in 1944, Ken-ichi Sugi. It is becoming very popular in the jewelry trade and is expensive. Sugilite colors range from a pale grayish lavender to a deep dark purple with the bright purple stones having little matrixing or blotches being the most valued. Sugilite is also known under the trade names of "Royal Lavulite" and "Royal Azel"

wampum beads at www.stonesnsilver.com

 Wampum was officially recognized as a currency by Massachusetts Bay Colony on October 18, 1650 ... strings of eight, 24, 96 and 480 beads has currency values for trading. Also known as quahog shell, a clam with purple and white coloring. Wampum Quahogs shells are found in the waters from Cape Cod south to New York, with a great abundance in Long Island Sound. Usually only available up in the northeast US, recently bead manufactures have been cutting them into beads for jewelry making.