In this installment of our
Mineral-of-the-Month: Turquoise, we will be exploring historic findings
and uses of this coppery wonder. We will compare some ancient to modern instances,
celebratory to everyday uses. Essentially, our blue-green friend has been used
adornment. That is, the arts of lapidary and jewelry-making dominate the guiding of
into its recognizable form. As a modeling color employed in pigments, we will
explore how we
copy its positive qualities, and gauge how well we can simulate its essence.
Of course, nature sculpts it, and
man has traditionally left it in its nugget state, though it is
easily carvable. Some use its natural form to heal, or just to look at and
craft usable objects from rough stone, simulated material, and colorful glazes, compounds,
All in all, our coverage and
fieldtrip this time out will be to two turquoise mines (one ancient,
one modern), a couple of museums, two interviews, and our own virtual lapidary/jewelry
Put on your sunglasses and
hardhat, and lets go!
the bluish-green, coppery mineral has it's own appeal. To both Eastern cultures
(namely China), Middle-Eastern (Egypt), and Western ones (North America), our mineral of
month has been revered for its cyan beauty, cultural significance, and ease of lapidary
cover The Americas, Egypt, and China in an around the world excursion. We will visit
some mine sites, tour a museum or two, shop for turquoise, and items made after its image
color--all of this within the framework of ancient and modern culture and art. A
little lapidary and
gemology will be on our plate, as well as the science, uses, and treatment of this cyan
mission is to find out how and why turquoise has both ancient and modern appeal by
touring and talking with some experts in the field. Join us for an adventure into
the past, then
help us to bring turquoise into today's use and beyond! Are you ready?!
How will we do it?
We will, of course, explore
Turquoises science and chemistry, as well as its cultural value.
Though it has but few uses, adornment and coloration comprise its prime application.
magnitude of these underwrite the histories of many ancient cultures, we will touch upon
magnificent contributions to the world of turquoise. From ancient Egypt to the
Americas to China, we will traverse the globe in search of lost mines, and found,
objects of the past, and compare them by usage and color to our modern riches.
Be it jewelry or dishes,
ceremonial artifacts or modern appliances, real gemstone or faux,
our quest today is to discover the myriad likenesses and places that turquoise calls home.
turquoise may have come from the word Turquie, French for Turkey, because
of the early belief that the mineral came from that country (the turquoise most likely
Alimersai Mountain in Persia (now Iran) or the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, two of the
oldest known turquoise mining areas.) Another possibility could be the name came
French description of the gemstone, "pierre turquin" meaning dark blue
The word turquoise probably is
derived from the French pierre turquoise ("Turkish stone")
and was first used by French and other European traders regarding Persian turquoise.[ii]
Other readings point to Turkey as
being the trade center, not mining center, at the time of
its naming, for this gemstone. European merchants merely named the stone for
origin, as coming from Turkey.
medieval Europe traders from Turkey introduced this "new exotic luxury".
was obtained from Persia, this association with the Turkish traders gave the stone its
name "turceis" which became "turquois" in French, and then the English
the word and added their own letter, giving it the modern spelling of turquoise. With
speakers it became turquesa. In this country, the Navajo name chalchihuitl
was used until the late 1800s.[iii]
In North America, every tribe has
a different name for turquoise. For instance, chalchihuitl,
the Navajo term for the stone, is based on an ancient Nahuatl term of Mexico modified by
| French: turquoise; German: Türkis or Türkisblau;
Norwiegan: turkis; Russian:
many references to turquoise in our everyday world. From place names to
alliterative descriptions, we still highly regard the color as emulated here, as well as
Named after our luxurious stone
are sky blue wonders with such tags as turquoise waters
of the Caribbean. If you would like to visit a tropical ocean paradise when
we are done our
trip, you may wish to consult at: Turquoise Net: Your Guide
to the Caribbean and Beyond.
Though this author has never been there, you may wish to check with your regular travel
Or better yet, witness the turquoise lagoons of the Red Sea on this
Turquoise clothing is all the rage in many fashion circles.
A company in California manufacturers finger cymbals, called
Turquoise International. They also
import and export Middle
(Left): Sample of
turquoise-colored fabric. Photo by Ken Casey
And, many place names espouse its aspects, such as, Turquoise, New Mexico. Also, the
Turquoise Trail in the American Southwest suggests a journey or quest for this
rare mineral. We will visit the area in our virtual tour.
Other place names:
Turquoise Lake, Colorado
Hill, New Mexico
Turquoise Trail Historic Byway, NM
Historic Byway, NM
There seem to be
as many locality names as there are simulants, too many to be listed
in the scope of this article. Although, some include: Aztec stone, Celestial Stone,
Some simulants are: Azurlite and Bayerite. If the stone couldnt be procured,
then it was
the first known gemstone to be simulated. Some cobalt-colored glass was
found in the tomb of King Tutenkhamon.
First to be used
as a gemstone, [t]urquoise may have been the first gemrock to be used
in jewelry: It is well documented that Egyptian Queen Zur (or Zer), wife of the
second ruler of
the first dynasty (~ 6000 (7500?) B.C.), wore bracelets made of gold and turquoise.[v]
|Turquoise bracelet by Jessica Harrison
hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate, having chemical formula:
CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O. Its chemical series ranges from turquoise (Al) to chalcosiderite CuFe6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O to faustite (Zn,Cu)Al6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O.
All elements are
involved to contribute to this gemstones useful properties and color range.
The base color is determined by its copper-iron range, thus creating its blue to green
adds a yellow-green cast along with extra hardness, handy in the shaping of the
Tibetan and Nevadan gems contain zinc.
nodules of pure turquoise is its matrix. A black matrix is usually from iron
pyrite; a golden-brown matrix from iron oxide, and a yellow to brown matrix from rhyolite.
Matrix that is thin and evenly spaced over the surface of the stone is commonly known as
"spider web" matrix. Spider web matrix usually enhances the collectibility
and value of
Some of the best
black matrix turquoise in the world comes from Iran and Tibet. Among
the finest white or brown matrix derives from the southwestern U. S.[vii]
from S. W. United States
Photo by Ken Casey ©2005
||Close-up of Chinese Turquoise
Photo by Mr. Li ©2005
turquoise-forming environment produces many variations, [m]ost turquoise
is concentrated near the copper-aluminum end of this spectrum then toward the iron or
zinc-aluminum end. Therefore, most turquoise is blue or blue-green then green or
as would be the case if iron would be more prevalent.[viii]
may produce a white constituent to the mix.
Both ancient and
modern deposits are primarily found in semi-arid to desert regions on
Earth. As a secondary or supergene mineral, it forms after influence by subsurface
It commonly occurs as nodules or in veins, seams, lenses or crusts in brecciated
alumino-siliceous igneous or metasedimentary rocks.[ix]
Often it is
found in silicified and fractured limestone.
Photo by & Courtesy of
Dr. Tarek Amin & Susanne Amin ©2005
||Levels and tables of the Sleeping Beauty
Photo Courtesy of Sleeping Beauty Mine ©2005
Chemically, a hydrated
phosphate of copper and aluminum, turquoise is formed by the
percolation of meteoric or groundwater through aluminous rock in the presence of copper.
this reason, it is often associated with copper deposits as a secondary mineral, most
copper deposits in arid, semiarid, or desert environments.[x]
America, turquoise formation relied upon nonacidic copper depositing great belts
that extend from the American Southwest into north-central Mexico. As it is a
mineral, the range of material is from the finest blue on earth to the majority that
a chalky form that loses its color upon exposure to air across this region.[xi]
tests on 21 world turquoise mines yielded new color information. An
example of this is that the tests show that a Persian mine noted for its blue turquoise
the lowest copper and highest iron content. This appears to contradict the generalization
bluer stones contain more copper. The tests did reveal traces of other oxides and these
have an effect on color. Lastly, these tests were conducted many years ago and we know
today that ore samples from a single mine can vary rather markedly.[xii]
The content of
its matrix also affects its coloring and other formation properties. It also may
enhance its beauty for some, as [t]he highly prized spiderweb turquoise is made up
nuggets naturally cemented together with rock or matrix. When cut, the aggregate mass of
nuggets resembles a spider web.[xiii]
be learned by studying the sometimes prevalent associated copper-deposits,
as turquoise can be a by-product of copper or gold mining.
Minerals: pyrite, limonite, quartz, chert, cuperite, manganese oxide, apatite,
chalcopyrite, chalcedony, and clays
||Rare, exotic Triclinic Turquoise Crystals on
grayish Quartz matrix
Bishop Mine, Lynch Station, Campbell County, Virginia
Photo Courtesy of Isaias Casanova,
and has been mined on most continents over history. Though we will
cover those of Egypt, China, and the American Southwest, there are other numerous known
deposits. Over 316 worldwide
localities exist per Mr. Jolyon Ralph at www.mindat.org.
Here is a
partial list of areas derived from many sources to encourage your further study:
Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, England, Egypt, Chile,
China, Iran (Persia), Israel, Jordan,
Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Tanzania, Southwestern United States.
United States: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Montana, Nevada,
New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia.
Some noteworthy locales:
Ali-mersai, Mashhad, Iran and Nishâpur, Maden, Khorassan
Serabit el-Khadem and Wadi Maghara, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt
Cerillos Mines, Turquoise Mtn. (Mt. Chalchihuitl), Santa Fe County, New Mexico
Santa Rita mine, Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico
Hubei Province, China and Sichuan, China
Victoria and Queensland, Australia
Silesia region, Europe
Nature has been our color guide for eons. Though todays synthetic fluorescent
mixes and the millions of colors graphics we see on our computer monitors
provide us with
satisfaction and excite our senses, the promise of our outdoor world can be witnessed
technology. It can still inspire us to appreciation and delight.
Whether we are viewing pure nature, or touring ancient architecture, museum collections,
or those of modern art, the color turquoise seems to almost never leave the palette of
creators. When observing a finished turquoise gemstone, many compare the ideal color
form to a clear, blue sky.
|Turquoise Paint Color Swatches
||Blue Skies over Delaware
Photo by Ken Casey
Sleeping Beauty Mine ©2005
Our ties to history can nearly ensure that we can experience the same ideals. From
civilizations to present day peoples, the hues of our prized turquoise may reflect for us
earth, sea, and sky that they have seen.
This gemstone itself consists of earth, and many other copper minerals we see today mimic
its hues. Seawater over white sand can suggest to the naked eye that a liquidy
splashes its blue-green palette into our minds. The rarer robins egg seems the
which lapidarists sculpt their matrix-free material into spheres, eggs, and
color is right. We can see what they have seen.
In fact, artisans still look to ancient artifacts and references to reproduce the colors
see today in their works. For example, todays Fiestaware can be
compared to the ancient
Egyptian and Assyrian faience potteries. Ancient glass derived from turquoise
modern glass in its beauty and technique of creation. And, any chemistry that
blue-green color can be shown to highlight our respect for this highly regarded stone.
Cars, appliances, and jewelry designs have been inspired from the works of our
But more on that later. We will need to learn a little more about color, treatments,
before we are prepared with our knowledge-base for our travels.
Soon, we will visit the Americas, then fly to Egypt. Go ahead and drink in the
while I arrange for our airfares, camels, and jeeps. Excuse me, I'll be right back.
When duplicating color, we tend to copy nature. Upon assigning attributes to
have named the prized robins egg blue or sky blue as our
grading of near perfection to
turquoise of these respective colors.
|"Robin's Egg on Moss"
Photo by John Harvey ©2005
Photo Courtesy of Smithsonian
National Zoological Park ©2005
South America may not boast many previously discovered turquoise sources outside of Chile,
but nature still offers natives and visitors a glimpse of the color. For example,
Turquoise Tanager Tangara
Mexicana, a bird found in Amazonia, is a bright find on a birding trip.
Wheel & Pigments
Turquoise is a tertiary color. That
means that you add together green + blue. Since green=blue+yellow, green is a
secondary color. When you mix a secondary plus a primary color (blue), you get the
third-level (tertiary) color turquoise.
When based upon
the color wheel, chosen chemical pigments can be added to clear silica glass, for example,
to get a bluish-green or turquoise tone.
When based upon
the color wheel, chosen chemical pigments can be added to clear silica
glass, for example, to get a bluish-green or turquoise tone. To quote Mr. David M.
leading expert on English colored glass:
Copper is a
very powerful and also a versatile colouring agent when used in colouring glass
and its use can be traced back many years. The now famous Egyptian Blue Glass, which was
so popular during the time of the Roman Empire, was made using a copper compound. Copper
greens and blues are not difficult to produce, although the behaviour of copper in a
can be complicated. Copper was used most profusely to produce green glass. The art of
copper for ruby glass goes far back to ancient times but even so using copper oxide (CuO)
make ruby glass can be very difficult. Today we find copper being used to produce
|Digitally-sampled color scheme from actual
turquoise photos Ken Casey ©2005
If you are dyeing or printing with colored pigments, you might consider looking at the
IndustriesDirect Turquoise Blue 86. It is a sodium salt of mono and
disulphonated copper phthalocyanine blue, having chemical formula: C32H16N8S2O6CuNa2.
Copper is the main coloring agent here. Of course, you might have your favorite
To paint your house in the style of George Washington, you might try reviewing the grand
Estate of Colours color
palette Duron Paints. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association
has licensed 30 interior colors to be duplicated for our use. Though the color names
mention turquoise, it it evident to our eyes, upon comparing to the mineral turquoise
seen thus far on our trip. The chemical pigments used by President Washington were
the most expensive of the time--but not today!
|Actual Color Swatches from Duron Paints Estate of Colours color palette
Photos Courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association ©2005
When you are ready to paint your
car, you could try Tropical
Turquoise Paint. It is part of the Testor ModelMaster® Automotive Colors Custom
Lacquer System. You can duplicate the vivid colors in automotive history with this
authentically paint matched to General Motor's factory specs. Yes, you can repaint
your 57 Chevy, if you want!
Though not a '57 Chevy, this
was painted a similar shade.
Photo by Ken Casey ©2005
According to a Taipei
Times photo, people are still using the color turquoise to finish their
home maintenance. Picture a freshly-coated entrance door covered turquoise paint on
500-year-old coral home.
By adding a colorful cabinet knob or handle to your furniture from the ultramodern line of
Athens (Turquoise) Collection, you could add beauty in a durable, modern polyester
with the look of frosted glass.
|Cal Crystal Athens
||Turquoise Ground Glass
Landscaping Material from Bourget Brothers
||Turquoise Bit Vase by
Dierk Van Keppel
You can even get ground landscaping glass to mulch your outdoor plants or make a
footpath. Bourget Brothers
Building Materials offers such a product.
For the finishing décor touch, you might add to your monochromatic home theme a glass
vase from modern glass blower Dierk Van Keppel. His Bit VaseTurquoise has
the best of
the ancient forms plus his unique 21st century creative interpretation of what a vase
This artists works, along with others, come straight from the studio to you!
Pulling all of this decoration into a theme might remind you of the American 1950s, when
many appliances, cars, bathrooms, and such were all turquoise. Then, the main color
turquoise. Today, as you can see, modern accents and wall colors foot the bill. So,
favorite, turquoise, can be emulated to create for us delightful surroundingsand at
the best of
|Kilz Casual Colors Color
||Color Place Swatches
From the dawn of civilization to
present day, turquoise offers us hand-held beauty in an
easy to lap package. Sometimes hardy, this fragile mineral serves mostly as a
to precious gemstone. It is generally not employed as an ore of copper, iron, or
though future science might support the culling of these elements. Its color has
since then to pose for this rare rock. So, we do employ somewhat its constituent
to reproduce its tones in pigments and as substitutes to enhance our environment.
Many sources point to the earliest
use of turquoise by ancient Egyptian Queen Zur (or Zer),
wife to first dynastys second ruler, less than 8,000 years ago. Also,
prevalent in older cultures
around the Sinai peninsula is crafting of faience, a turquoise-colored, glazed
Notably, the Egyptians and Assyrians have left us archaeological examples to support
Also, the ancient Egyptians duplicated the colors in rare glass.
In the European Renaissance, craftsmen duplicated the ancient
formulae to some degree
in their revival faience. Indeed, they copied or rediscovered millenniums old
Today, all manner of modern art, architecture, and many items
of practical use copy the
color choices of our ancestors in making our world a more interesting place in which to
Literature abounds with references to turquoise. From
Shakespeares use of Shylocks
ring in the Merchant of Venice to jewelry worn by Elizabeth Taylor in her portrayal of
in the movie "Anthony and Cleopatra", the symbology of our precious stone reigns
And, from the journals of Marco Polos adventures to James Bond's in the movie
we see turquoise at the center of the action.
|Cleopatra-style turquoise beads
Photo by Ken Casey ©2005
The scene in which
the villain and Bond fight, like two bulls in a china shop, has them
smashing everything in a Venetian glass showroom, including a blue-turquoise bowl that the
director had us believe would be saved in the end. I am speculating, but perhaps the
bowl symbolized the planet Earth in peril, or just that the most-highly prized color of
Renaissance Venetian glass was just to be destroyed last.
appliances were a fashion trend in the 1950s. Today, turquoise is
making a comeback. From refurbished appliances to new ones, the hearth of many
homes may once again be centered on this timeless, natural color.
manufacturers, from Holly to General Electric churned out assembly-line
versions of refrigerators, stoves, radios, and the like, to fill a growing demand in the
||(Left): Elmira Stove Works
"Northstar" Retro-style Range
Western-Holly Stove with Turquoise Range, Refurbished
Photos by ESW, VS
The Elmira Stove Works of
Elmira, Ontario, Canada, offers newly-manufactured retro
1950s kitchen appliances, like their "Northstar" turquoise stove.
Vintage Stoves by Stevan
Thomas of Hutchison, Kansas offers refurbished and restored appliances. His
rivals that of the original manufacturers'.
Many other items,
from wall paints to ceramic bathroom tiles and fixtures reflected the
fashion guiding you to fill your home with this sky blue remnant.
The 1956 Ford
Thunderbird was introduced in turquoise, as it was again in 2002 in this
Detroit News Story.
Many forms of treatment are used to make turquoise stand up to
the rigors of lapidary
work and for everyday use. These include: stabilizing, treating, and
pressing. The first two
methods require the injection of clear or pigmented acrylic or epoxy plastic. The
hydraulic pressure to press nuggets into useable chunks. According to the folks at
Processing, Inc. the Kingman Mine [o]nly about 3% of turquoise is hard enough
in its natural
state to be used in jewelry.[xvii]
Other methods include: oiling, waxing,
dyeing, lacquering, fracture-sealing, compression,
reconstituting, and the Zachery Process.
Stabilized turquoise starts as a chalky, low-grade material
that requires strengthening,
lest it break apart upon lap preparation or carving. By adding acrylic resin under a
the stone hardens and deepens in color upon absorption of the added medium into the porous
stone. The color remains constant over time. Lapidaries might detect a smell
of plastic while
Also, much turquoise in the marketplace has been
so-to-speak stabilized (i.e., hardened)
by inorganic mineral salts such as colloidal silica and sodium silicate (water
Basic treatment offers many options. Oiling, waxing,
dyeing, and lacquering are just that,
the addition of these substances via soaking or coating to enhance their color and sheen.
Fracture-sealing involves application of a chemical sealer to
bind the matrix, thus holding
the constituent nugget bits together. Sometimes an electrical current is passed
stones to harden them.[xix]
||The Chinese Turquoise
Beads in this bracelet were most likely treated or stabilized.
Ken Casey ©2005
or pressing uses force to compact the stone, making it more dense.
Reconstituting also uses pressure. By taking useless, small chips and grinding them
powder, an epoxy or resin can be added to form bricks or block. Once cured and cut,
nugget forms can be crafted to simulate more natural chunks. The resulting material
easier to work, but holds a lower value on the turquoise scale.
The Zachery process enhances
turquoise through the application of chemicals and heat.
The heating process eliminates any residual chemicals in the turquoise. Therefore,
difficult to tell the difference between enhanced turquoise and natural, untreated
Unlike natural turquoise, enhanced turquoise will not turn green over time.[xx]
view of this process states that, [t]he 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
naturally with some turquoise.[xxi]
One proponent of this last method, is Roben Hagobian, who is one of
largest U. S.
importers of Chinese turquoise. A brief history of the success of the Zachery
the past 13 years, millions of carats of turquoise have been enhanced by a proprietary
process known as Zachery Treatment. Invented by James E. Zachery -- an entrepreneurial
electrical engineer who "grew up" in the turquoise trade -- Zachery Treatment
championed as an industry breakthrough by Roben Hagobian and his R.H. & Company of
Glendale, California. According to Hagobian, some $1.5 million had been spent on
the treatment, which is notable for its virtual undetectability.[xxii]
In the end, if you want the
genuine article, you might seek out Bruce and Jeri Woods,
owners of the Godber Turquoise Mine east of Austin, Nevada, who say that,[s]ome
so naturally beautiful, that it defies the need for treatment.[xxiii]
Economics and the rarity of
gem-grade turquoise in recent decades have spurred the
invention of substitutes for our favorite wonder.
Imitation turquoise can be a
different stone died a turquoise color such as Howlite,
resin or glass bead with nothing turquoise about it except the associated name to identify
There are even lab-grown turquoise
synthetics. The modern process has been mainly
produced in France. Some types are: Neo-turquoise, Hamburger Turquoise or
Also known as Lab-grown Turquoise [it] does not have the veins of impurities found
American Turquoise. The refractive index of natural Turquoise is usually slightly higher
than that of lab-grown stones. Genuine specimens also have homogenous blue matrices
that contain irregular white particles.[xxv]
Exactly the same chemically, these
indoor-created replicas demonstrate the same
physical properties as natural stones. Most are re-created without matrix.
Making your own Faux Turquoise
Making rough and finished stone
that truly resembles turquoise is an achievement of
modern art and science. From French plastics and other simulants, todays
clays can have you creating passable, if not phenomenal, blue-green beads and cabs
with or without a faux matrix. Jeanne A. E. DeVoto states, in her how-to article
Turquoise at The Polymer Clayspot, that It's particularly fun to make
things that can't be done with natural turquoise, taking advantage of the versatility the
||This block of polymer art clay
from Sculpey can be used
to create faux or simulated Turquoise.
by Ken Casey ©2005
|Author's attempt at faux
turquoise-making with polymer art clay
||Perhaps my best effort!
Up to recently, hand tools,
strategy, and fire were the major tools relied upon in the
turquoise-mining trade. Pick and ax, hammer and chisel, and forcing cracks by
heat to stress cracks were the only methods known. These have produced the gems from
the ground that our ancestors knew.
Today, backhoes, dump trucks, and
perhaps explosives are used. Power tools support
extraction in remote areas on a smaller scale. One advantage modern miners
previous miners, who worked with hand tools, is a gas generator. To this the miner
up a saw with a diamond cutting blade and a machine with a grinding wheel. Using
to cool the cutting blade, the miner cuts away chunks of host stone to get to the
Though many modern mines remove
only turquoise, sometimes it is the by-product of
copper or gold mining. No more metals are to be had, it seems, so gemstone mining
over. One such example is the world-renowned Sleeping
Beauty Mine in Globe, Arizona.
The Sleeping Beauty Mine
The Sleeping Beauty
Turquoise Mine in Globe, Arizona, is the worlds largest supplier of
raw turquoise; it is the largest in North America! It is also purported to be some
of the finest
matrix-free, bright blue material, rivaling that of ancient Persia. Today, the mine
produce high gem-grade, natural material, most of which does not require stabilization or
enhancement. It is a [f]avorite of the Zuni Pueblo silversmiths for use in
petit point and inlay
jewelry. One of the largest in North America and still producing.[xxvii]
Mining Operation at Sleeping Beauty Mtn.
Photos and designs courtesy of Sleeping Beauty Mines and True Blue Jewelry ©2005
We are favored
by mine-owner, Paula, with an interview.
with Paula from the Sleeping Beauty Mine:
is Sleeping Beauty Turquoise different from other mines? Perhaps you could name one
defining property for our readers.
Paula: Sleeping Beauty turquoise is known for it's clear blue color with no
matrix thru the stone.
Ken: Are there any
special (non-proprietary) mining or sorting techniques you would like to offer that our
readers might be interested in?
Paula: The material is
mined, loaded into trucks, and taken to a screening plant where it is sized and ran
on belts, the workers then pick the turquoise off the belts.
Ken: Your jewelry line
at True Blue Jewelry is striking, simple, yet elegant.
Where do you derive your inspiration from?
Paula: We mine the
turquoise, then we sell it all over the world, we then buy back some of the jewelry made
by various artists, most of our jewelry is native American made... and hand made. We try
to carry mainly the more contemporary styles.
Ken: To me, turquoise is
turquoise, and as I have witnessed, yours is some of the best stuff on earth. Some geologists would call most American turquoise
chalcosiderite. Chemically, would
this be a distinction of some of the material from your mine? And, if so, would you say that this distinction
underlies the beauty of your material?
Paula: No I think it's
the higher content of copper that makes it more blue than most others, Also the way
it was formed with lots of hot water and all the minerals that make up the Turquoise.
Ken: I understand that
pure turquoise like yours (without matrix) can have a relative hardness of 5 to 6. Would you recommend to lapidaries to skip the use
of backing while cabbing their stones? Or, is
it better safe than sorry, especially for beginners?
Paula: The hardness on
the higher grades is about 5 or 6 depending on how thick the stone
being cut should determine whether or not to use a backing.
Ken: Do have any other tips for folks would
enjoy crafting with your magnificent robins egg blue material?
Paula: As you are
cutting try to keep the stone as cool as possible, if the stone gets to hot it brings
the natural acid in the stone to the surface and will make it green.
Ken: Any additional comments you
would like to make, Paula.
Paula: Also try to keep any oils away from the stone even
oils from your hands will affect the stone.
Mines, Active (United States)
Burnham Mine, near Austin, NV
Sleeping Beauty Mine, Globe, AZ
Turquoise Crystal Locales
Mines, Historic (United States)
Historic Park/Cerrillos, NM
Educational Preserve, Santa Fe, NM
|Partial U. S. Southwest Map of Turquoise Mines
To purchase a complete map got to: ALLTRIBES.com
An ancient trade-link has been
established by scientists between the natives of North,
Central, and South America. For a thousand years, Mesoamerican merchants traded
objects like macaw feathers and copper bells for precious turquoise mined by the Anasazi
and Hohokam of the American Southwest.[xxviii]
The mining producers were the
peoples of western North America. The consumers were
the populations of Central and South America. It has been shown that,
[t]urquoise seems to
have been especially important to the Anasazi of Chaco Canyon. Some 200,000 pieces
have been discovered at the site, from tiny chips to exquisitely worked pendants and
despite the fact that Chaco is five days' journey from the nearest known source.
estimates of the number of turquoise pieces discovered in ancient Mesoamerica run to
one million. With no suitable sources in central Mexico, the mineral must have been
perhaps from areas in far northern Mexico or even as distant as Nevada.[xxix]
One example shows that [f]or
a thousand years, Mesoamerican merchants traded ritual
objects like macaw feathers and copper bells for precious turquoise mined by the Anasazi
and Hohokam of the American Southwest.[xxx]
In addition, [t]urquoise
mosaic mirrors adorned with the Feathered Serpent were crafted
by artisans in Mexico and the Southwest. This exquisite example served as a royal emblem
for the Maya kings of Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan Peninsula. The turquoise was probably
imported from New Mexico.[xxxi]
In the article, Pueblo Bonito: Turquoise
Trade Capital, Anasazi commerce centered on
one item: turquoise. Trading groups from the Toltec merchants' capital (Tollan or Tula) in
central Mexico visited regularly. Chaco governors tightly controlled the turquoise mines
Cerrillos. Raw stone was brought to Pueblo Bonito to be cut into small tiles, which the
merchant-traders took back to Tollan for use in jeweled and tiled creations.[xxxii]
Science holds the key.
[Turquoise] has been traded for eons over vast distances. A
scientific test, neutron activation analysis, has proven that some ancient beads found in
South America originally came from the Cerrillos turquoise mine near Santa Fe.[xxxiii]
The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas all enjoyed turquoise found to the north.
Native North American
Jewelry-use and mosaics were the
major applications of turquoise in the pre-Columbian
Americas. Disk-shaped beads, or heishi, and small, cut plates of this
stone were used
to create some of the finest handiwork of the times.
Today, the great heishi
center is New Mexico's Santo Domingo Pueblo. Zuni stonecutters
are among the most famous for mosaic jewelry. Some Navajo claim Atsidi Sani was their
metalsmith, learning from Mexican plateros in New Mexico around 1853. Atsidi Chon was one
of the first to set turquoise on silver, sometime around 1878. He shared his knowledge
other Navajos, as well as the first Zuni silversmith, Lanyade, and taught Sikyatala, the
Hopi silversmith. The art of jewelry making has spread today to perhaps 10,000 Indian
The Anasazi people of earlier times were superb craftsmen of matrixed turquoise. It
used since about 200 B. C.. Mined primarily in the American southwest, objects used
found in Central and South America have been attributed to the area of New Mexico and
nearby as their raw materials source. Scientists have theorized that either trade,
or conquest landed the gemstones further down the Americas. However, many believe
to the dispersal method of choice.
Over the last hundred years, some Native American craftspeople have embraced the art of
silversmithing as a setting for turquoise. As silver can be readily mined, this was
at hand. Further south, the Mayans and other civilizations have ensconced their gems
Today, jewelers in the Americas can choose either metal, or various other materials to
illuminate or illustrate their stones.
Many western North American peoples revered turquoise: Apache, Mexican Indians,
Pima, Zuni, Pueblos, Hopi, and Navajo.[xxxv] Also, the Hohokham and Mogollon.
Turquoise was revered spiritually. This underlies their value for the use of this
stone. For one people, according to the Navajo Creation Story, Ever Changing Woman
in a house
made of the four sacred stones: Abalone, White Shell, Turquoise,
Her home, Mt. Taylor, is in
Navajo legend, the "Turquoise Mountain" fastened from the sky
to the earth with a great flint knife and decorated with turquoise, dark mist, female rain
all species of animals and birds. Here is the home of Dootlizhii Ashkii
Other peoples associated the stone
as having fallen from the sky, that being its described
color. Fertility, maize (corn), and true aim of the hunting arrow were all part of
the charm to
turquoise. There is so much lore about this stone, it would take many books to
So, we will depart from here to visit our next destination.
First well visit the Cairo
museum to get a feel for culture of ancient Egypt. Then, well
contact our travel agent and tour guide for a personalized excursion into the Sinai
There we will see the ancient turquoise mines. If we mind our manners, perhaps we
make some new friends in the Bedouin
Finally, we will grab some rest & relaxation after our desert jaunt at our
hotel. To cool off,
we could take a guided dive of the turquoise waters of the Red Sea. (Dont
worry, if you left
your snorkel at home, we can rent some equipment.) Before we leave, we can shop at
local markets for newly-crafted turquoise jewelry, and maybe try some of the areas
On our trip we could scour the route to the mine and still not see any turquoise.
todays modern open pits mines, a myriad of tunnels lace the area, stretching from
adit openings. We will have to envision how the ancients operated in order to
Today, wondering through the Sinai and viewing its unusual landscape, it is
to imagine a land rich in minerals. Egyptians discovered its mineral wealth very early on,
perhaps at the beginning of the dynastic period. Archaeologists have found that the very
earliest known settlers in the Sinai, about 8,000 years ago, were miners. Drawn by the
region's abundant copper and turquoise deposits, these groups slowly worked their way
southward, hopping from one deposit to the next. By 3500 BC, the great turquoise veins
of Serabit el-Khadem had been discovered.[xxxviii]
Situated ten miles from Wadj
Mughara on a small plateau north of Al-Tor, the lonely
Serabit el-Khadem area mines await us. Along the way we may see ancient petroglyphs
and hieroglyphs from Pharaonic times. Openings to old tunnels, and perhaps a glint
turquoise on the path, could guide us to the site. However, it is best that we
One day, on a future trip, our
access to the area might be paved. We could ride, not
walk about 3 miles from the mine to Hathors Temple nearby. In a recent March
news release from the Egyptian
State Information Service, funds will be released to
restore the Serbaeet temple in South Sinai. Today, we will use our tour
Related to the mines is a temple
dedicated to Hathor.
This temple is considered as
one of the most important of the Egyptian temples that was established in Sinai for God
"Hathor"; that is well known for "Turquoise lady" said yesterday Head
of the Supreme
Council for Antiquities Dr Zahi Hawass.[xxxix]
The native Monitu called the area
Country of Turquoise. There are six known mines
in the region. On this trip, we will visit only two.
As the Egyptians have a heritage
of fine-jewelry making, we might find some turquoise
items at the Wekalat Al-Balah market in Cairo. Other area bazaars might have
The turquoise lagoons of El Gouna offer pristine beaches for swimming, diving, and
living the resort life. So, we could take a break here, before heading on.
The color turquoise
flavors the lore of history here. Wadj, the word for green, which also
meant to flourish or be healthy, was used for the papyrus plant as well as for the green
malachite. Green malachite was a symbol of joy. In a larger reference, the phrase
malachite" was used when speaking of the land of the blessed dead.
Another green stone, which was a
favorite among Egyptians, was turquoise. The word
for this greenish stone was mefkat, which meant joy or delight. The use of turquoise has
been traced back to the beginnings of civilization. When the tomb of Egyptian Queen Zer
(5500 BC) was excavated in 1900, archaeologists discovered a turquoise and gold bracelet
on her wrist.
In ancient Egypt, if no turquoise
could be found, glazed quartz was used as a substitute.
It was the representation of the color, more than the actual material itself that
A story about a maiden and her
lost turquoise can be found in Chapter
1 of a book called
Egyptian Magic by E. A.Wallis
Turquoise, or mefket, was
the most valued of the green stones. Mined in Sinai,
connected to the deity Hathor,
who was called Lady of Turquoise, and as well as to the sun
at dawn, whose rays and disk were described as turquoise, and whose rising was said to
flood the land with turquoise. Thus, turquoise was also associated with rebirth, and
figurines in this color were often used in funerary equipment.[xli]
In the 1890's, a popular
style of Western necklace paid tribute to the last pharaoh: the
"Cleopatra" consisted of a row of turquoise from which hung a fringe of agate,
coral and other
semi-precious beads. (From Tour Egypt Magazine)
In an article
by Suzanne Amin of goredsea.com in The Magazine,
she describes her
wonder-filled excursion into the Sinai.
We rose early the next
morning and headed for the turquoise mines. Located on the
mountain Maghara, we encountered a whole mountainside with a long row of open mines
situated side by side. You reach them by climbing a steep path for about 15 minutes.[xlii]
||Wadi Maghara row of
by & Courtesy of Dr. Tarek Amin & Susanne Amin ©2005
Ms. Amin goes on to
describe the evidence of past mining life, along with artifacts either
weathered or in situ. Being an important archeological site, it invites the visitor
an environment not much different today than in the times of the ancient miners. Her
is a good start to understanding our fieldtrip into the Sinai desert. She has also
agreed to an
interview about Egypt, turquoise, and the ancient mines.
with Susanne Amin of GoRedSea.com:
read and liked your article on "The Land of Turquoise". I like your itinerary of combining
cultural history with the geological.
KBC: In addition to your regular tours,
would you be willing to customize an excursion for those
interested in geology of the Red Sea?
SA: We dont offer any regular tours, this was
a private trip! GoRedSea.com is at the
moment an information provider for the Red Sea. However, we are soon to launch
as an online tour operator for all Red Sea destinations in Egypt. We are planning
to sell flights and hotels first, and later on diving packages, rental cars and anything
that can be made into a package, including tours if possible. But if anybody wishes
to come here and make an excursion into the desert, I am happy to help with
whatever arrangements that need to be made. I will refer you to my Bedouin friends
who are very experienced and who make tours like this one on a regular basis.
Might even join you! Myself, I go to the desert regularly and explore and have made
several interesting trips in South Sinai. It is purely private and I go with friends who
share my desert interests.
|Pottery shards: Remnants
of an ancient kitchen
Wadi Maghara, Egypt
and courtesy of Dr. Tarek Amin and Susanne Amin ©2005
KBC: What would one expect to see on a
tour of the turquoise mines?
SA: Well, first of all you
will be travelling through the amazing Sinai desert with its
stunning landscapes, serenity, and fascinating flora and fauna.
The turquoise mines at Wadi Maghara are located in a very
beautiful area which has
a lot to offer. As you must have seen in the article, there is a Pharaonic temple not far
from Maghara called Serabit El Khadem. But right around the mines you can see, for
example, and old kitchen where the ground is totally covered in pottery
shards. I even
found an arrow head there. There is also a Bedouin village nearby.
The mountains are beautiful and we have both igneous and
sedimentary types of
mountains so the landscape is very varied here. You will also see acacia trees and
other types of vegetation although very sparse as this is a desert. We also have a few
oases so depending on how you travel you might be lucky enough to visit one.
I have a Bedouin contact in the village of St Katherine (2 hours drive from Maghara)
who recently took a PhD student to Maghara. The student is working on her PhD and
needed to see some pharaonic bas reliefs near the mines. You can see one of them
in the article too.
Between Maghara and the big Feiran valley is another interesting
place: The Valley
of Inscriptions or Wadi Mukattab. This valley is also mentioned in the article and has
inscriptions from many different eras through history.
If you decide to come and look at the mines you should also not
miss the village if
St Katherine where you find Mount Moses (where Moses is believed to have received
the Ten Commandments) and the famous monastery of St Katherine.
ancient turquoise was employed in Pharaonic art and important artifacts, where could
one tour a museum or university with such exquisite items on display?
SA: Cairo Museum! They have
incredible artefacts displayed there and they are
amazingly well preserved after thousands of years in the sand. Cairo is around
500 kilometres from Sharm el Sheikh (where I live) and you can get there by bus
or by flight from here.
KBC: Do you
have any sites in your area related to the Egyptian goddess Hathor? I understand
that she is the Protector of the ancient turquoise mines.
SA: Yes, the temple at Serabit El Khadem is built
to her honour. (Pls see the article!)
|Heiroglyphics on the way to the
Serabit El Khadim
Photo Courtesy of Susanne Amin ©2005
there modern artisans crafting from Sinai turquoise, or other regional material? If so,
in which markets and bazaars would one find these items for offer?
SA: I dont
think so. I sometimes meet Bedouins who try to sell small pieces of turquoise
that they have found in the desert but as far as I know there is no new turquoise being
mined. You will surely find turquoise and many other types of minerals in the markets but
I am not sure where they come from. They might even be imported.
KBC: To open
a friendly dialogue on the subject, how would one phonetically say "turquoise"
Arabic, and in other tongues used everyday in Egypt?
being knowledgeable in hieroglyphics myself, would you know of any reference (about
your mine tour) that displays symbols for 'turquoise'?
SA: No, sorry.
KBC: Is there modern
turquoise mining in your area, or that you know of in Egypt?
SA: Not that I know of.
you know of any "fee mining" for turquoise outside any conservation areas?
could there be a business that allows the personal collecting of turquoise on their
for a fee? (As our readers love fieldtrips and collecting, if permitted.)
SA: I really dont think so.
The whole of Sinai, more or less, is under protection.
Goredsea.com, you offer such a delightful and informative portal into the unique
experience of both visiting and diving the Red Sea. I love the pictures you display
Red Sea and Sinai area's geology. Who is the photographer?
SA: Thanks very
much, I am glad you like the pictures. Most of the pictures from the
Sinai desert have been taken by my late husband Dr Tarek Amin.
diving, are the Red Sea waters the really the color of turquoise in places?
SA: Absolutely! But of course you
would only see the turquoise colour in shallow
areas that have white sand at the bottom. The Gulf of Suez is amazing with its
turquoise waters along the shore in some places. You see it while driving between
Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh. You can also see stunning displays in the marine park
Ras Mohammed (the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula) and in Nabq park, just
North of Sharm el Sheikh.
webmaster for my club, I correspond with other webmasters on our subject. May I
ask, 'How did you choose webwork, and what guided you to choosing nature, culture, and
tourism as your subject?'
SA: Well, GoRedSea.com is not
originally our baby. We were employed in 2001 as
Head of Research (my husband) and I as a Web Consultant for the portal. We both
love nature and spent all our off-days exploring the Sinai desert.
We lived in Malaysia for many years and were running a dive
centre there. I
have past experience in the travel business in Sweden, my husband had a PhD in
history and was among the first to start the diving industry here in Sharm el Sheikh
20 years ago as Sinai was returned to Egypt by Israel.
Since my husband passed away in January I still go to the desert
as I possibly can. I have local friends here with all sorts of backgrounds, such as
film making, photography, writing etc.
would you be willing to offer any tips on how our fellow web consultants and
webmasters could portray nature as well as you do on your site?
SA: Oh thanks! Well, I remember when GoRedSea.com was launched that
we all said
that pictures are extremely important for a tourism related site. So we made sure
to have many good pictures and we are still collecting images. Almost all our
pictures are clickable so that people can see a big photograph, not only a small
there any additional comments you would like to make?
SA: I just wanted to make sure that you found all
the five parts of the article I wrote.
The way our organisation of the portal is at the moment, it might not have been
obvious that there were links to click on to find all chapters. Here they come:
In this article you will find a map of the area.
Pharaonic temple at Serabit El Khadem:
This temple is dedicated to the Lady of Turquoise, Hathor.
Curious geological formation near Serabit
Wadi Maghara (Valley of Mines):
Main turquoise mine area, between Serabit and Wadi Mukattab
Mukattab (Valley if Inscriptions):
Menat & Hathor
A person of ancient times, when
asked, might respond, the color of the sky, to the
question of, What color is turquoise? A reverence for the goddess
Hathor might be implied,
as she is the Lady of Turquoise. Hathor also became
associated with the menat,
turquoise musical necklace often worn by
The menit or
menat necklace is worn to venerate Hathor. [I]n Egyptian religion, [this]
protective amulet, [was] usually hung at the back of the neck as a counterpoise to the
necklace worn in the front. Frequently made of glazed ware and quite often found buried
with the dead, it was a symbol of divine protection. Among women it fostered fruitfulness
and health, while among men it signified virility.[xliv]
She was known by many names.
As Lady of Malachite, Lady of Turquoise, Hathor
was also connected to metal. Holding spiritual dominion over the Sinai Peninsula, she was
responsible for the success and well being of the mines in that area. Apparently Hathor
as intensely worshipped by male miners and soldiers
A sacred decoration was made from
turquoises cousin, [m]alachite, mined in Hathor's
province of Sinai, was ground into eye make up. Thus one not only worshipped Hathor
through the act of embellishing the eye, one also wore her essence upon one's body.[xlv]
Here is a description of
us now return to the Temple of Hathor at Serabit Al-Khadem on a 755-metre high plateau
inland from Abu Zeneima. It was built in an area particularly rich in turquoise, a
stone much in demand by the Ancient Egyptians but of which there is no trace today.
the earliest evidence of mining dates to an early period, it was not until the Middle
especially between 1790 and 1778 BC, that a permanent Egyptian presence was established
there. The Pharaoh Senusert developed the site of an earlier rock-hewn shrine known as the
Cave of Hathor in which the miners may have placed a statue of their patron goddess. A
and open court were constructed in front of it to form a temple, from which position rocky
lead to several small turquoise mines. Naturally there was a residential area for the
and some of the inscriptions leave no doubt that miners themselves sometimes served as
Photo Courtesy of
For over 3,000 years, gemmy nodules were carved as was jade. Many items
exported. Today, still we can get large nuggets, like this one that sold on e-Bay
|Blue Turquoise Nugget from China
It weighs in at 3.7 pounds!
Photo Courtesy of Mr. Li ©2005
Todays China is still the source for most of our freshly-mined
turquoise. There are
about 4 or 5 areas in which it is mined. Though the higher quality material is now
medium-grade material is mined extensively. Much of this still requires
treatment to meet the markets needs.[xlvii]
Sources point to the fact that, [m]ost of the turquoise on the market today has been
mined from the Hubei Province of China. It has become more affordable than American
turquoise due to lower labor costs as well as fewer mining restrictions. Only about 15% of
turquoise is found to be "gemstone grade". The majority of lower grades of
turquoise on the
market today are treated in one form or another.[xlviii]
The Chinese mines serve most of todays turquoise needs. Northwest of
the Ma'ashan turquoise mine, and the Hubei Province produces turquoise in colors
reminiscent of the now closed mines in Nevada. This turquoise ranges in color from sky
blue to spring green as well
Turquoise from mines in China accounts for about 80% of
the stone on the U.S. market today, due to the scarcity of American turquoise. Only a
handful of turquoise mines in the American southwest are commercially operating.
If you like the greener materials (iron-end of the series), Hubie and Tibetan
are for you. The currently popular chunky blue green turquoise nuggets with
web matrix is mined north of Bhutan high in the mountains of the former Tibet. Northwest
of Shanghai is the Ma'ashan turquoise mine, and the Hubei Province produces turquoise
colors reminiscent of the much-prized blues and greens of the now closed mines in Nevada.
Most of the remaining 20% is American, coming from the Sleeping Beauty and Kingman
Tibet is the home to greener
varieties of turquoise. In Tibet, where green turquoise has
long been appreciated, gem-quality deposits purportedly exist in the mountains of Derge
Nagari-Khorsum in the east and west of the region respectively. However, the existence of
these deposits is doubted by some due to a lack of corroboration.[l]
Tibetan craftsmen also added turquoise to their sacred objects.
crowned Bodhisattva (enlightened being), portrayed as a slender, youthful figure,
is an exuberant example of Tibetan metal imagery, which typically combines the Nepalese
ideal of bodily form with the local emphasis on the color gold and semiprecious stone
The sensuous treatment of this figure was inspired by the Indian aesthetic tradition
transmitted through Nepal; clues to its Tibetan origin come primarily from the broad
features. Since Tibetans consider gold the supreme color, they frequently gild their metal
images. In this complex process, a mixture of gold and mercury is applied to the image,
then the image is heated to the temperature at which the mercury evaporates and the gold
adheres to the surface. The Tibetan delight in encrusting the surface of their images with
gems is evident in the lavish use of turquoise, coral, and lapis lazuli to adorn this
Faience is glazed earthenware.
The ancient Egyptians copied the best properties of turquoise in their potted items.
Unlike the tin-glazed earthenware of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance,
Egyptian faience is not clay but a ceramic consisting almost entirely of quartz, the
material of which glass is made. Egypt produced small-scale masterpieces of faience from
about 3500 B.C. until the first century A.D.[lii]
The exuberant blue-green color derived from a copper colorant.
The recipe included
water, lime, ground silica, and colorant. The resultant mixture is known as
paste. Typical decorative themes included the fertility of life along the
The goddess Hathor is an important theme. Faience itself was naturally allied
Hathor, the goddess of fertility and rebirth. Several bowls decorated with motifs
have been found at the head of women's coffins, where we believe they
understood to confer powers of rebirth on the deceased. Similarly, the relief decorations
Third Intermediate Period lotus chalices depict human and animal life in marshy landscapes
with imagery that alludes not to outings on the river but to Hathoric themes of rebirth in
primordial marshes, the site of the creation of Egyptian mythology.[liii]
Though a simple substitute, a magical quality called tjehnet, was seen to
its surface. The brilliance of heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, were
believed to be
analogous within the faience surface and structure. To the ancient Egyptians,
of faience shimmered with an immortal light and offered the brilliance of eternity.
|Artist's rendering of an
(After a specimen in the Smithsonian NMNH)
Painting by Ken Casey ©2005
||Modern Fiestaware Bowl
LARGE 10 1/4" TURQUOISE DEEP DISH PIE BAKER
from the Homer Laughlin China Co.
"A second from the outlet, it looks very good."
Photo Courtesy of honkeytonkkid
at e-Bay ©2005
Try comparing the dishes above to the actual Egyptian Dish
in the Smithsonian National
History Museum's Freer Gallery of Art. What do you think?
Color-choice for objects was as important for ancient Egyptians as it is today. In
modern world, psychologists and metaphysicians attribute properties to our perception of
lightplay upon our environment in much a similar way. Blue and green today might
rest, relaxation, the outdoors, or healing. In the past, [b]lue was the color
associated not only
with the Nile but also with the waters of heaven and the home of the gods. Green signified
vegetation, regeneration, and rebirth.[liv]
Glazing ancient ceramics held much the same appeal. As natural stones, such as
malachite and turquoise became more scarce, glasswork and faience filled the demand to
every level of society. Early Dynastic Period-dated discoveries prove the new
began over 4,000 years ago.
It is interesting to note that the art clay recipe (above) for faux turquoise includes
sand, and closely resembles a middle-state product between the look of natural turquoise
and ancient faience. We get the best of both worlds with this creative
project! I would
suggest trying some art clay in addition to your natural-stone lapidary work.
Egyptian Faience Article
Though a full comparison of the merits of ancient versus modern ceramics would go
beyond the scope of this article, we can appreciate at least a cursory appreciation by
viewing an article from each time period.
An ancient Egyptian turquoise-faience dish from the Roman period can be readily put
next to a modern turquoise-glazed Fiestaware dish. Just take in the beauty of each
moment, then reflect on the similarities. They really are more the same than
dont you think?
Timeline: Faience (Egypt) --> Roman glazes --> Renaissance Faience --> Modern
After this brief respite, shall we adjourn from our virtual tour and return to our
Ill call up the tour bus for the airport. Check your baggageI hope you
have bought some
good souvenirs! Lets go!
Turquoise polishes well will tin oxide or cerium oxide, especially if it is
stabilized. Some rare
material is naturally hard enough to cab without backing.
Early American jewelry consisted of carved, hanging ornaments, and drilled, strung beads.
There is no reason why we cannot recreate these items with our own flair today. Go
Give it a try!
Here are some ideas: bracelet kit, art clay, buy your own rough and begin.
Bracelet Kit, reasonably priced
(Right): Finished Result
In todays metaphysics, many
New Age crystal healers regard Turquoise as the master
stone to healing.
Native Americans found it sacred
as "Fallen Sky" stone. The Zuni carved and wore small
animal fetishes from it.
Turquoise jewelry can trace
it origins back to many ancient civilizations. In Ancient Egypt
the goddess Hathor was the protector of the desert and Sinai turquoise mines. The Aztecs
believed in Xiuhcoatl the turquoise serpent. According to the Navajo Indians Estsanatlehi
the turquoise sky goddess. Turquoise is said to make it wearer aware of danger, poison
sickness or infidelity.
Turquoise is December's Birthstone
and the traditional Eleventh anniversary gift.[lv]
turquoise permeates ancient Egyptian culture. Even items worn for everyday
adornment include some aspect of the turquoise gemstone, or its coloring, as rooted
religious belief and bound in ancient handicraft. From the Book of the Dead, ancient
Pharoanic writings, and culture-study references, this blue-green feature added to the
peoples daily lives.
contend that the early Israelites were led by Moses through the area of
the Sinai mines.[lvi]
Also, some agree
that the ancient Jewish High Priest wore a breast plate of twelve
stones, one of which was turquoise. According to the World English Bible,
39:11 and the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald;[lvii]
What would have been the source of
this stone? Could it have been the same as the
Eilat stone, which many Israeli merchants offer to tourists today? Or, could it have
derived from the ancient Egyptian turquoise mines? Regardless of source, turquoise
a religious significance to those who have passed through the area.
Museum of Northern New Mexico, Taos, NM
The Smithsonian Institution
The Zach-Low Turquoise Museum,
Casa Grande Trading Post, Petting Zoo & Mining Museum, Cerillos, NM
Smithsonian Turquoise Item Pages
Yes, even the SIs webpage backgrounds for turquoise
collections are turquoise in color!
Unmasking the Maya
Art of the Islamic World
Chinese Art, Ruyi Sceptre
South Asian and Himilayan Art
Geological Museum (Overview)
The Geological Society of Egypt
The Egyptian Geological Museum at the
Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA)
[lvi] Alliata, ofm, Eugenio; de Luca, ofm, Stefano. Discussion: The Sinai
Desert and Egypt. 137.
Desert of Zin where were sent down the manna and the quails. Franciscan Cyberspot:
The Madaba Mosaic Map: VI Century A.D. Originally published by Michael Avi-Yonah,
Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Sin". 19 Dec 2000. 29 Aug 2005
Until Next Time
We hope you have enjoyed our
global excursion into the world of turquoise. Please join us next
month for another exciting Mineral-of-the-Month!
Until then, stay safe, and happy collecting.
Dr. Tarek Amin & Susanne Amin, GoRedSea.com
I would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous contributions of our fellow
enthusiasts, collectors, authors,
curators, professionals, and club members who made this
work possible. Thanks!
Dr. Tarek Amin & Susanne Amin, GoRedSea.com
Kilz Casual Colors and Color Place
© 2005 All contributions to this article are
covered under the copyright protection of this article Reproduction of this article must
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Unearthed: An Illustrated Guide by Joe Dan Lowery
The Allure of Turquoise by Arnold Vigil
The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, and Sky by Ellen
the Author: Ken is current webmaster of the Delaware
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