Turquoise is one of the world’s most ancient gems. Archaeological excavations revealed that the rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with turquoise jewelry, and Chinese artisans were carving it more than 3,000 years ago. Turquoise is the national gem of Tibet, and has long been considered a stone that guarantees health, good fortune, and protection from evil. The gem’s name comes from the French expression pierre tourques, or “Turkish stone.” The name, which originated in the thirteenth century, reflects the fact that the material probably first arrived in Europe from Turkish sources. Turquoise was a ceremonial gem and a medium of exchange for Native American tribes in the southwestern US. They also used it in their jewelry and amulets. The Apaches believed that turquoise attached to a bow or firearm increased a hunter’s or warrior’s accuracy. Turquoise is plentiful and available in a wide range of sizes. It’s used for beads, cabochons, carvings, and inlays. Although well known to consumers, its popularity in the mainstream jewelry industry comes and goes. The biggest and most permanent market is in the American Southwest. It’s also popular elsewhere, among customers who are captivated by that region’s mystery and romance, as well as by the blue of its skies. turquoise is one of the birthstones for December.
Historical source of the finest material (known as Persian turquoise)
No longer commercially important
Hardness and Toughness
Hardness 5 to 6 on Mohs scale
Toughness Generally fair to good
Environmental Factor & Reaction
Heat: High heat can cause discoloration and surface damage
Chemicals: Dissolves slowly in hydrochloric acid; can be discolored by
chemicals, cosmetics, and even skin oils or perspiration
Care and Cleaning
It’s safe to clean turquoise jewelry with warm, soapy water, but it should never be cleaned with steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Some turquoise is treated to improve its surface appearance. Heat or solvents can damage the treated surfaces.
Source: GIA's Library