U.S. Turquoise

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United States Turquoise Sources

Most quality turquoise from the United States is found in the Southwest, particularly in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and California.  Turquoise was sacred to Native Americans even before the arrival of Columbus.  Most of the mines in these states have run dry and few are operating commercially these days.  Even more difficult to find is gem-quality turquoise.  Most turquoise today probably comes from Arizona, and is recovered as a byproduct from copper mining operations.  That is to say, turquoise is not mined for its own sake, but rather found in the "stone trash" left behind from the mining of copper.  (Recall that the presence of copper is what makes turquoise blue.) 

Arizona

Most of the mines in Arizona are deleted of their turquoise and are not being commercially mined.  Here are a few mines that are significant, either for historical reasons or because turquoise is still being produced.  Most of the Arizona mines are open pit copper mines, with turquoise being retrieved by others under contract.

  • Birdseye Mine.  This mine has been closed for many years, but produced collector's quality stone.

  • Castle Dome. Located in Inspiration, this mine operated from 1943 through 1953.

  • Cave Creek.  Located to the NE of Cave Creek, Arizona.  There are reports of beautiful turquoise coming from this mine today, but we are still investigating for the details.

  • Kingman Mine.  Kingman turquoise is well know in turquoise circles because of the beautiful blue coloration and black matrix of the stones coming from the mine. 

  • Lavender Pit.  This famous mine is located near Bisbee, Arizona.  The mine is an open copper mine.  Bisbee Blue turquoise is a rich blue, often with brown matrix.  Green turquoise is also found in the mine.  Little turquoise comes out of the mine these days.  Most Bisbee blue turquoise jewelry comes from previously found supplies.  It has been reported that the copper company, the Phelps Dodge Corporation, made few efforts to mine the turquoise.  The stone in which it was embedded was hauled away as the company dug to reach the copper deep below.  The turquoise would then be "harvested" by third parties under lease from the dump.  It has also been reported that the copper miners should "borrow" the turquoise they came upon, stashing it into their lunch boxes, and then selling it on the open local market.

  • Morenci Mine.  Located in the southeastern part of Arizona, this mine produces turquoise of a light blue color.  The mine is no longer producing significant quantities of turquoise.

  • Sleeping Beauty.  One of the most beautiful turquoise stones found in the U.S., "Sleeping Beauty Turquoise" is light blue in color and has little or no matrix.  This mine is still operating, producing beautiful but expensive gem-quality turquoise.

California

In comparison with Arizona, California is a small player in the turquoise world.  Turquoise has been found in the Llanada copper mine in San Benito County; and the Baker, Gove and Apache Canyon mines in San Bernardino County.

Colorado

Turquoise has been found in fifteen mines, according to mindat.org, although not always in commercial quantities or qualities.  In Teller County, turquoise has been recovered in the Elkhorn Claim, the Florence Mine, the O'Haver Claim, the Cripple Creek District, and the Roanoke Shaft.   In Lake County, turquoise has been found in the Sugarloaf District, Leadville, the Josie May mine, and Turquoise Chief Mine.  This gem has also been found in Conejos County, Eagle County, Mineral County, Rio Grande County, and Saguache County.

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TURQUOISE BASICS

Origins of  "Turquoise"
Gemstone Properties

How Turquoise Forms
Color Range
Turquoise Matrix
Natural Turquoise
Treated Turquoise
Turquoise Birthstone

WHERE TURQUOISE
IS FOUND

Australia
China
Egypt
Iran
Mexico
United States
Other Locations

VARIATIONS

Eilat Stone
Faustite Turquoise
White Buffalo Turquoise

FORMS

Beads
Cabochons
Chips and Nuggets

IMITATIONS

African Turquoise

Block Turquoise

Faience Ceramic
Howlite Turquoise

Natural Imposters

Polymer Clay
Utah Turquoise
Vienna Turquoise

TURQUOISE
JEWELRY CARE

Care, Cleaning and Storage

 


Mosaics
Sculptures
Functional Art
 


Books About Turquoise

 

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