The Smithsonian has called turquoise the most” important defining gem stone in Southwest jewelry,” and suggested in THIS article that turquoise is becoming almost more valuable than diamonds. Buyers who wish to make the most of their investment in turquoise should be aware of these six myths of buying turquoise.
COLLECTING TURQUOISE IS EXPENSIVE:
Not necessarily. While there’s a lot of turquoise out there at various price points, the most valuable and desirable stones originate from the Lander Blue, Number Eight, Sleeping Beauty, Bisbee, and Lone Mountain mines. These come in a variety of colors, from pale green to midnight blue. The overall choice for most buyers and collectors is a highly polished, uniform medium blue stone with no matrix, such as the Sleeping Beauty turquoise mined in Globe, Arizona. That said, bargains abound for the serious collector. The number one rule? Know your dealer, or find a reputable one who can guide you through the minefields of real vs. fake and investment-grade over faddish trends. Stones from lesser-known mines, such as Hachita or China Mountain, are more easily affordable. And don’t forget vintage pieces—sometimes known as old Indian pawn. It’s easy to get caught up in the color and workmanship (sometimes the turquoise is set alongside coral, jet, or mother of pearl) before you realize you’ve found a treasure at a great price!2
THERE’S A LOT OF FAKE TURQUOISE OUT THERE:
This is true– for the same reason you can easily find fake Louis Vuitton handbags. If the old adage is, ‘there’s a sucker born every minute’, then it’s incumbent upon you as the shopper to know your stuff in order to be a smart buyer. Research is key, in tandem with knowing and trusting the dealer, store, or website.
While turquoise in general isn’t rare, stones from particular mines can be, such as the Sleeping Beauty mine in Globe, Arizona, which closed in 2012.
Real turquoise has color which runs the depth of the stone and can’t be removed, and has a hardness factor between 5-6, while dyed Howlite (created to mimic turquoise) falls around 3.5 on the scale. Real turquoise doesn’t scratch easily, and the matrix (sometimes called veining; it’s the rock the turquoise was formed in) is rarely uniform.
Does the price ‘seem too good to be true’? If so, then it’s probably not as the seller is representing.3
TURQUOISE CAN TAKE A BEATING:
Not true. You’ll want to exercise care while wearing it, just as you would with any other fine jewelry. Keep your turquoise out of water; remove before swimming, bathing, or doing the dishes. If set in silver, polish only the metal (never the stone) with silver polish. It’s fine to clean your turquoise with a soft, damp cloth. Make sure to initially dry everything with a clean cloth, then air-dry.4
TURQUOISE IS TURQUOISE:
Hardly. Turquoise doesn’t always have a ‘turquoise’ color. Lander Blue is a dark, midnight blue, with a wealth of spider web matrix. Carico Lake runs lime green; Lone Mountain is a medium blue stone with spider web matrix. Sleeping Beauty is an intense sky blue, used often without matrix in jewelry with multiple stone settings. Saturated blue shades are usually the most desirable. Turquoise is most often fashioned as a cabochon (a gem polished, but not faceted) with a flat back, though you’ll also find gorgeous multi-hued chunks set into pendants and rings.5
TURQUOISE DOESN’T INCREASE IN VALUE:
Another myth in buying turquoise is that it doesn’t increase in value. This is most definitely not true. Value is often a personal feeling than a monetary one, but turquoise prices do increase. When selecting a stone, find one which speaks to you, whether it’s a commanding and oversized nugget with lots of matrix or a clear, calm monochromatic piece. While the style and smithing of the metal setting is important (Americans prefer sterling silver, while most other countries choose gold), it’s the stone which speaks. Value is a question left mostly to your trusted dealer; our advice is to always choose a stone which moves you.6
TURQUOISE IS USED PRIMARILY IN NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY:
Much of it is, in the United States. But turquoise has been admired for centuries by the Egyptians, Chinese, and Persians. Some of the most spectacular pieces of jewelry and carvings were created over two thousand years ago in those regions. Turquoise has become the go-to gem for scores of international designers and collectors. Just as yesterday’s ubiquitous pearls— always a sign of good taste— dominated fashion, turquoise has become an emerging preference and de facto choice in everyday wearability.
Whether you’re drawn to calming blue stones or prefer stormy indigo, translucent green, or pieces with heavy matrix, color is always a personal preference, regardless of fashion or trends. For any size, type, and setting of turquoise, as with any other gemstone, high quality is paramount to enduring and increased value.
The Pickle Barrel Trading Post, a family owned and operated business since 2003, is located in Globe, Arizona. Known for a diverse selection of Southwest gift items and exquisite Native American art and jewelry, their carefully curated collection of turquoise is constantly changing, with new pieces arriving daily. Known as experts in their field, the Pickle Barrel staff considers it a pleasure to assist those with questions concerning everything which relates to the world of turquoise.