The Chinese have been mining turquoise for at least 3700 years. This estimate is based on the find of bronze work with turquoise overlays that date back to 1700 B.C. It is believed, however, that ancient Chinese civilizations imported most of their turquoise, probably from Persia (Iran). Turquoise was used to carve statues and other art pieces, preferring jade for their jewelry.
Some turquoise comes from the Shanghai region, where the Ma’ashan turquoise mine is located, but most is produced in the Hubei Province, shown in the map above. Turquoise from the Hubei region sometimes obtains the brilliant blues long favored by turquoise enthusiasts. Some of the mines in this area include the Huangcheng Mine, the Jinliantong Mine, and the Labashan Mine, all in Zhushan of the Shiyan Prefecture.
One often reads that China produces 80 percent of the world’s current output of turquoise. We have found no independent confirmation for this figure. We do not doubt it, given our own familiarity with the operations of turquoise wholesale suppliers. However, we suspect that someone, somewhere once posted the 80 percent figure, and that other sites accepted it uncritically. If anyone is aware of objective market share data that can shed light on this issue, please email us.
Chinese turquoise is usually stabilized with a clear epoxy to harden and seal it.