The name 'Turquoise' originally came from the French word for 'Turkish', as these gemstones were originally imported from Turkey. The first use of 'turquoise' as a colour name was recorded in 1573! In cultures around the world, Turquoise was esteemed as a holy stone, which brought good fortune. In ancient Egypt, grave furnishings with Turquoise inlay have been discovered, dating from approximately 3000 BC. The people of the ancient Persian Empire would wear Turquoise as a protection against unnatural death. We now know that unstablised Turquoise can change colour due to many factors, but at the time it was believed that the Turquoise transformed as validation of the wearer's fear of impending doom! Our turquoise comes from a mixture of working mines, old private collections and secret stashes! Originally sourced from mines ranging from the south west USA, northern Mexico and China.
The South West USA is a significant source of Turquoise, with Arizona boasting the most important mines in terms of Turquoise value. Arizona's Kingman and Sleeping Beauty mines are considered to produce some of the best gemstones in the industry.
Turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty mine in Arizona has a pure sky blue colour with very little veining or webbing. The mine closed in 2014, making the material in circulation even more precious.
Family run today, the Kingman mine is one of three prehistoric turquoise mining sites in Arizona. The mine produces every colour of turquoise from blue to green, and varying volumes of matrix.
Castle Dome mine, located 30 miles from the Sleeping Beauty mine in Arizona, has been closed since 1979, when the source of turquoise was depleted. The mine produced bright blue to green turquoise.
Prized by native cultures and used for decoration for hundreds of years, a lot of turquoise is sourced - but not necessarily mined, due to a great deal of ancient trading - from Tibet, where it is highly revered as a symbol of the sky. Shaped beads are traditionally given to Tibetan children, as they are believed to keep them from falling. Having formed in grape-like bubbly nodules, the colour ranging from darker blues to green, this turquoise is generally threaded with dark matrix, giving a highly desirable 'spiderweb' appearance. Cut from the original black host rock, there may be traces of staining from ancient iron ore. A conservative estimate for old trade beads is 300-500 years, but some may be older than 500 years given that the beads were used in trading since roughly 1000 B.C. Historically there hasn’t been much mining in Tibet, as the turquoise was all picked up by hand from the surface so as not to scar and deface the earth, but this practice may well have changed in recent years.