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Turquoise is one of the most popular semi-precious stones you can find and is a highly desired gemstone for jewelry. This gorgeous stone with its intriguing hue has the prestige of being the only gemstone with a color named after it! Though it isn’t anywhere near as expensive as a diamond or sapphire, turquoise has no less a magical effect than these expensive stones.
In this comprehensive shopping guide, we’ll walk you through our top tips for buying the perfect turquoise!
- What Is Turquoise?
- Know Your Turquoise Varieties
- Choosing Turquoise Color
- Choosing Turquoise Cut
- Considering Turquoise Clarity
- Turquoise Carat Sizes
- Choosing Turquoise Jewelry
- How to Care for Turquoise Jewelry
- Be Aware of Turquoise Imitations
- Know How to Spot A Turquoise Imitation Like A Pro!
- Turquoise Treatments and Enhancements
- Turquoise Meaning and Symbolism
- Where to Buy Turquoise Jewelry
What Is Turquoise?
Turquoise is an opaque mineral with a beautiful greenish-blue hue. The name ‘turquoise’ is derived from the French word for Turkish, because history tells us that the stone was first brought to Europe from Turkey. The stones were excavated from the mines in Asia and were brought in through the trade routes that passed through Turkey. Hence, Turkish stone.
Turquoise forms over millions of years, occurring when water oozes through rocks that contain certain minerals such as copper and aluminum. When this happens, a chemical reaction is set off and veins are formed, which later bunch together creating turquoise!
Know Your Turquoise Varieties
Turquoise varieties are generally known by the location where they were found. Each of these varieties have distinguishing factors. For example, famous Persian turquoise is not as porous as other types and so has a better polish while American and Mexican varieties are quite porous and have lighter green-blue colors.
A common variety that is found widely is turquoise matrix, which refers to turquoise containing parts of the host rock. If the matrix is included, this means that it contains the vein-like inclusions so often found on turquoise.
Choosing Turquoise Color
A dazzling blue turquoise gemstone. See this ring on Etsy.
In terms of value, color and saturation are critical factors of turquoise, so check for this when buying. Although the word turquoise evokes a certain color in mind, there are actually several shades of blue and green under this umbrella. You can find the stone in light sky blue, mid-range blues, deep blue, blue-green, vivid green, sea green and leaf green. In terms of value, evenly distributed, mid-range blue colors (which in trade are referred as Persian blue) are the most valuable turquoises.
Choosing Turquoise Cut
The turquoise gemstone can be cut into many shapes, the most popular of which are cabochons, ovals, beads and chips.
Long turquoise earrings with no faceting. See them here.
Because turquoise is naturally very beautiful, cutting is not a critical factor to bring out its beauty. Turquoise is sometimes be faceted or used in its rough form depending on the style of the piece of jewelry.
Considering Turquoise Clarity
Turquoise is generally opaque, although you can find the rarer translucent turquoise as well. Typically, the stone has a matte appearance and is not a sparkly gemstone. Most turquoise contain included matrix which refers to dark spidery inclusions, which can range from dense to light.
Although shoppers generally prefer clear and glossy turquoise free of any inclusions, turquoise with inclusions can have intriguing designs that make it attractive.
Turquoise Carat Sizes
Turquoise is often mined in large slabs and then is broken into smaller chunks for jewelry. You can find it in a variety of sizes, although stones of about 4-8 carats usually work well for jewelry. Larger stones would be more favorable for ornamental pieces. The price for turquoise varies but averages around $30 to $40 per carat for a quality piece.
Choosing Turquoise Jewelry
Turquoise is an ideal stone for a chic, classic look. It best suits cool skin tones but even warm tones can pull it off if worn well. Of course, it’s important to ensure that the stone you choose complements the rest of the outfit. Luckily, turquoise is a versatile colored gemstone and goes well with many other colors. Turquoise best complements neutrals (brown, black, white, gray, nudes). For a striking contrast, pair it with warm colors.
Minimalist turquoise studs with matrix. See them here.
Choose quiet minimalist turquoise jewelry pieces to tone down the look for casual or office wear. If you want glam up a minimal outfit, then a statement piece of turquoise jewelry will really stand out. Yellow or rose gold adds a classy, vintage touch to turquoise jewelry, while white metals give it a modern look.
Turquoise make excellent eternity rings and can work as a wedding band. They’re also an excellent choice for promise rings because in many traditions, giving a turquoise ring means ‘forget me not’.
Turquoise and diamond eternity ring. See it on Etsy.
How to Care for Turquoise Jewelry
Turquoise is a fairly hard gemstone with a ranking of 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale. What this means is that other stones that are harder than turquoise can damage it when they come in contact in a harsh manner. If turquoise is stored together with harder stones such as diamonds, they are more prone to damage.
Keep your turquoise jewelry safe to prolong its life. See this pendant here.
The outer surface of turquoise is very permeable, meaning that it can absorb liquids or gases it comes in contact with. Wearing turquoise jewelry while doing household chores such as cleaning with harsh chemicals, using soaps, harsh shampoos or applying makeup, can sometimes permanently damage it. Even chlorine in the swimming pool can discolor turquoise. Make sure you remove all pieces of turquoise jewelry when doing these activities.
Wiping the surface of the stone with a cloth that is dipped in hot water is the ideal method for cleaning the stone. But the stone should be dried immediately and use of any kind of soaps are strictly not recommended since they contain oils that can damage the stone. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner.
Be Aware of Turquoise Imitations
As mentioned earlier, modern technology has helped in inventing many chemical formulas that create a final product similar to turquoise. You would be hard-pressed to find the difference if you aren’t a gemologist. These synthetic imitations come cheap and seldom have the effect the original stone has. There are also many natural minerals that look like turquoise. For example, variscite can be confused with turquoise, although it is greener in appearance.
The most prevalent imitation today is colored howlite. Howlite is a grayish white mineral that not only takes on the color of the dye it comes in contact with, but also looks very similar to the original stone. But it is very important to recognize these fake stones because they do not come under the faux turquoise label but instead is sold as white turquoise, an extremely rare form of turquoise.
Know How to Spot A Turquoise Imitation Like A Pro!
Here are some ways that you can check if the stone you hold in your hand is a true turquoise or a fake.
- The first is the price. If it seems too good to be true, then the dealer is probably ripping you off. Imitations always come at a cheaper price and real turquoise can be very valuable.
- Check the saturation of the stone. The inside of the stone should be blue through and through. If it is white then it is most probably howlite as the dye used to turn howlite into turquoise does not penetrate beneath the surface. Wipe the stone with some nail polish and a cotton bud. If the cotton bud becomes blue and the stone in that patch turns lighter, you know that the stone is a dyed howlite.
- Howlite has a Mohs ranking of approximately 3.5, making it softer than turquoise. If your stone scratches easily, it may very well be a fake.
Turquoise Treatments and Enhancements
The raw state of turquoise, though attractive, isn’t always made for jewelry. The higher-grade stones can withstand the test of time but the medium and low-grade stones have to be enhanced through various treatments to enhance their appearance as well as make their surface stronger. The commonly used enhancement method is called the Zachary process. The end result is a stone that not only looks colorful but is also very durable.
Some of the enhancements include natural turquoise, stabilized turquoise, plastic turquoise, dyed and infused turquoise. Be sure to know the origin of the stone before buying.
Some people don’t prefer stabilized turquoise since they believe it to be artificially dyed stones or somehow fake. But know that even high-grade turquoise sometimes needs stabilization. It is a necessary process to make the overall color look as even as possible and to make the stone strong.
Turquoise Meaning and Symbolism
Turquoise is the birthstone for December and turquoise jewelry make excellent gifts for a December born baby.
Turquoise used to be valued as a mystical stone that had protective and healing properties. One belief was that turquoise stones emit a pale blue color if the owner of the stone is sick and it entirely loses its color if the person dies. But the stone regains its former glory when the ownership transfers and changes according to the health condition of the new owner. Hence, turquoise can be considered the health indicator of the wearer.
Turquoise has been valued by cultures around the world, including Persians, Chinese, Native Americans and Egyptians who regarded turquoise as sacred and believed that wearing the stone would bring unusual luck as well as power to the wearer.
The metaphysical nature of the stone has influenced many and it is believed that the stone has properties that can cure sickness. Other cultures also believe that turquoise can help communicate with the spirits and turn fortunes in one’s favor.
*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Where to Buy Turquoise Jewelry
When buying online, ensure that you are buying from a top-rated vendor with a proven track record. We recommend starting your search on Etsy and Amazon as these platforms have endless options to suit various budgets and styles.
For those that want something more special, unique, and handmade, Etsy has a huge assortment of vendors that offer a variety of all types of turquoise jewelry. Their turquoise jewelry ranges from a few dollars to pieces that costs thousands of dollars.
As it is one of the biggest online retailers worldwide, it’s not surprising that you can find all kinds of turquoise jewelry here. The range is extensive and will take some time to go through, but it’s well worth it.
Of course, since every vendor on Etsy and Amazon have their own policies and rules you might need to do a bit more digging and research, but that’s ultimately worth it in the end when you manage to find the perfect turquoise jewelry. Use the site’s extensive rating and review sections to gauge the quality of each product.