If you have visited any of our sites, you will know that we have an obsession for Turquoise. Maybe it has to do with its brilliant color, or the limitless number of variations that the gem can possess. Turquoise, unlike others rare gems, isn’t just for the affluent. Rather, it can be worn by anyone, to make a statement of individuality, elegance, or simply add a dash of style to your favorite outfit.
It is truly a universal gem that can be enjoyed by all.
We aren’t the first ones to feel this way about turquoise. In fact, turquoise has a history of being mined by many different cultures, going back almost 3000 years! Here are some of our favorite historical facts about this gem that we have come to love and admire so much:
1. The Egyptians were among the first to mine and use turquoise:
While we here in the states typically associate turquoise with Native American lifestyle of the southwest, the Egyptians were the first documented culture to mine the gemstone. Some mines on the Sinai Peninsula date back as far as 3000 BC. Even the iconic burial mask of Tutankhamun was inlaid with Turquoise.
2. The name, Turquoise, is derived from the French Language:
This gemstone has a rich history and has been known by many names over the years. The current name that we all know it by, turquoise, originates from the French phrase pierre torques or “Turkish Stone," named after the Turkish traders who first brought the gemstone to Europe.
3. Our home state, New Mexico, is thought to have the oldest turquoise mines in the U.S.:
Cerrillos New Mexico is thought to be the location of the oldest turquoise mines in the United States. Turquoise from this location was highly valued across the southwest, and was used by Native Americans before the area was claimed by Spanish. There are even specimens of Los Cerrillos turquoise that are on display inside the Smithsonian Museum.
4. Many cultures believed turquoise contained spiritual properties:
Among many cultures, there are long-held beliefs about the spiritual properties of turquoise. The Persian cultures believed that turquoise could predict sickness and death. By wearing a necklace laden with turquoise, the Persians believed that if the color of necklace stayed true, you were healthy and protected. However, if the necklace changed color, it was an indicator of health issues. Native Americans, specifically the Apache, would attach small pieces of turquoise to their bows and arrows. This was thought to bring the archer an unmatched level of accuracy when hunting or engaging in battle.
5. No two pieces of turquoise are alike
Turquoise is formed by the slow disintegration of the host stones, or other minerals that are around it. The host stone has a major influence on the type of matrix that runs through a piece of turquoise. The matrix is formed by the host stone (either aluminum, iron or phosphates). They are thin veins of the host stone that interweave through the turquoise, creating a beautiful spider web design across the blue-green hue of the gem. These veins are never duplicated from one piece of turquoise to another, which means that every single piece of turquoise can be likened to a human fingerprint. You will never find another one like it in the world.
If you find turquoise as intriguing as we do, we highly recommend purchasing a piece jewelry for yourself or your loved ones. Sunwest Silver has one of the largest collections of raw and finished turquoise in the world, and we would be happy to help you with your selection. You can purchase a piece of history today by viewing our inventory at Sunwest Handmade.
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