A driving trip to Arizona’s “Indian Country” I saw many fine examples of December’s Birthstone in much of the silver jewelry of the Southwest.  I could see it in the natural rock formations below Jerome, AZ and imagined what the first people thought about its vibrant color against the red and black rocks.  Here are 10 things I learned about turquoise:

  1. Turquoise is found around the world in very dry areas where volcanic activity has occurred.
  2. Turquoise is French for “Turkey.”
  3. Blue colors form when there is copper present (mostly Arizona).
  4. Green turquoise forms when there is more iron present (like most Nevada turquoise).
  5. Gem quality turquoise I hard, while lower grade turquoise is soft.
  6. Cerrillos turquoise mine (Santa Fe and Albuquerque area) is considered the oldest mine, first used around 200 B.C.
  7. A single mine can produce a variety of colors and hardness.
  8. It is often soft and porous, can darken with wear. Can be injected with dyes and resin to enhance color—this lowers the value.
  9. Lander Blue turquoise from Lander County, Nevada is considered the rarest and most valuable turquoise ever mined.
  10. And finally, Elvis loved this gemstone. He called it “turk-waa

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