Turquoise is formed by the action of percolating groundwater in aluminous rocks where copper is present, as in the vicinity of copper deposits. Turquoise is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. In recent times turquoise, like most other opaque gems, has been devalued by the introduction of treatments, imitations, and synthetics onto the market, some difficult to detect even by experts. Turquoise is one of the world's earliest-used gem materials. Ranked with the jades of the Orient and lapis in the Near East, turquoise has been revered for thousands of years.
Turquoise is only rarely faceted. Usually it is shaped as cabochons or as beads, or even given a fancy cut.
The Origin of the Name
The name means "Turkish stone" because the trade route that brought it to Europe used to come via Turkey. Some say that in the thirteenth century, Turquoise was named in the mistaken belief that it came from Turkey. Others say that the name comes from the Persian word for Turquoise, firouze, since Persia has been a major source of this gemstone for thousands of years. When turquoise first came to the attention of man is unknown. There are archeological as well as literary references that pre date the Christian era by five millennia. The word "turquoise" is also believed to have been derived from the German term "turkisher steins" which means "Turkish stones".
Best Turquoise comes from Persia
For at least 2,000 years, the region once known as Persia, has remained the most important source of turquoise, for it is here that fine material is most consistently recovered. The four bracelets of Queen Zar, found on her mummified arm, date to the second ruler of the Egypt's First Dynasty, approximately 5500 BC. Turquoise was used for beads by the Egyptians. Combined with other ornamental stones, the turquoise was inlaid in gold by Sumerians and Egyptians to produce very sophisticated articles of Jewelry. The name "Persian Turquoise" is now generally used to refer to any turquoise stone that does not have the black or brown veining commonly found in turquoise mined in the United States and used in a style of jewelry created by the American Indians.
The legendary home of the world's finest turquoise is the mines at Nishapur. Turquoise became a major trade and barter item for the early Persians. Persian turquoise was found in ancient graves in Turkistan and, in the 1st to 3rd century A.D., in graves throughout Caucausus. Persian stones were much coveted in Afghanistan and as far north as Siberia.
The Beauty of Blue Turquoise
Turquoise, the robin's egg blue gemstone worn by Pharaohs and Aztec Kings, is probably one of the oldest gemstones known. Yet, only its prized blue color, a color so distinctive that its name is used to describe any color that resembles it, results in its being used as a gemstone.
The true value of turquoise is in the beauty of the stone. Buy at the level you can afford and buy what speaks to you, what you find most attractive. There's no stone like turquoise, and rarely are two pieces alike. An interesting thing about turquoise is that its value will increase to the individual who wears it - it becomes a part of you.
An Ancient Gemstone
Turquoise is an ancient gemstone, and has been highly regarded in many of the world's civilizations. Among the ancient empires it is best known among the Persian and Native American civilizations, where it was the most popular ornamental gemstone.