The Passion of
Ancient Egyptians called turquoise “mefkat,” which also means “joy” and “delight.”
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 carved 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 turquoise,” or “Turkish stone.” The name, which
originated in the 13th century, reflects the fact that
the material probably first arrived in Europe from
Turquoise ranges from blue to green in color. The most
prized color is an even, intense medium blue. Generally
pure saturated blue shades are the most valuable.
Turquoise is semi-translucent to opaque. It might have
veins of matrix running through it (matrix is a remnant
of its surrounding rock). The most valuable turquoise
is an even medium blue with no matrix and the ability
to take a polish.
Turquoise is found in only a few places on Earth: dry
and barren regions where acidic, copper-rich ground
water seeps downward and reacts with minerals.
The traditional source for the top color, sometimes
described as robin’s egg blue or sky blue, is the
Nishapur district of Iran, the country formerly known
as Persia. So, quite often, you’ll hear people in the trade
call turquoise of this beautiful color “Persian blue,”
whether or not it was actually mined in Iran. Another
famous producer of high-quality turquoise that rivals
the famous Persian material comes from the Sleeping
Beauty mine in New Mexico, U.S.
Some turquoise is treated to improve its durability,
appearance and polish. Turquoise can be dyed or
chemically treated by adding an epoxy or acrylic resin
for increased hardness and enhanced color.