Unlocking the Turquoise Birthstone: A Guide for Amateur Jewelers


Brief Overview on Turquoise Birthstone

The universe of gemstones is vast and colorful, but amongst the myriad of precious stones, one particular gem stands out with its unique hues of blue and green – the Turquoise birthstone. Named after the French expression for “Turkish stone”, turquoise has been coveted for centuries, not just for its distinctive color, but also for its supposed metaphysical properties.

This article aims to take you on an insightful journey, unraveling the mystery and charm of the turquoise birthstone. Whether you’re an amateur jeweler, a gem enthusiast, or simply someone captivated by the beauty of turquoise, this comprehensive guide will serve as your beacon into the world of turquoise.

Turquoise, primarily recognized for its striking namesake turquoise color, is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral. Composed of hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum, the stone’s color palette ranges from heavenly sky blue to invigorating sea green, depending on the mineral composition.

As a birthstone, turquoise is associated with the month of December, promising to bestow peace and good fortune on those born in this month. Not just confined to December-born individuals, this gemstone, with its rich hues and ancient lineage, has captivated jewelers and gem enthusiasts alike.

From its geological formation to its historical value, from recognizing authentic turquoise to understanding its symbolism, and from tips on working with turquoise to a comprehensive buying guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about this fascinating gemstone.

Whether you’re seeking to fashion a stunning turquoise necklace, desiring a pair of chic turquoise earrings, or exploring the idea of unique turquoise engagement rings, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate the turquoise terrain with confidence.

So, let’s embark on this exciting journey together, unlocking the secrets of the turquoise birthstone and exploring the mesmerizing world of this enchanting gem.

The Origin of Turquoise

Geological Formation

The genesis of turquoise, the captivating sky-blue gemstone, is a fascinating tale etched in the annals of geology. Turquoise forms when water percolates through rocks rich in copper, aluminum, and other minerals. The process is slow, often taking millions of years, and it predominantly occurs in arid regions where the rate of evaporation exceeds precipitation.

The resultant product is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum, which exhibits the distinctive blue to green turquoise color. The hue can vary depending on the balance of these elements: copper yields a splendid blue, while iron and chromium lend a greener shade.

The most eminent turquoise deposits are found in Iran, the Southwestern United States, and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Each location offers its unique variant of turquoise, distinguished by specific color ranges and matrix patterns.

Historical Use and Value

Turquoise has a rich and storied history that dates back over 5000 years, augmenting its allure beyond its natural beauty. In Ancient Egypt, it was immensely valued, adorning the regalia of Pharaohs and serving as talismans in the afterlife. Archeologists have unearthed turquoise beads in ancient Mesopotamian ruins, indicating its use as a decorative material in that era.

In the American Southwest, Native American tribes like the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni have long revered turquoise. They have used it in ceremonial rites and as a fundamental element in crafting turquoise jewelry, including turquoise necklaces and turquoise earrings.

In many cultures, turquoise is regarded as a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune, or a talisman against evil forces. Its historical significance and enduring symbolism have only added to its value as a gemstone, making it a cherished element in the realm of jewelry-making and beyond.

Recognizing Authentic Turquoise Birthstone

The allure of turquoise lies in its characteristic hue, a mesmerizing blend of blue and green that echoes the majesty of earth and sea. However, not all that glitters is genuine turquoise. In this section, we will delve into the nuances of color variation, texture and hardness, and explore common imitations to help you recognize authentic turquoise.

Color Variation

The shades of the turquoise color range from a sky-blue to a more greenish-blue, depending on the levels of copper and iron present during its formation. Higher copper content lends turquoise a more azure hue, while iron infuses it with a greener tint. Some turquoise stones showcase a matrix or web-like pattern of brown or black veins, the result of the host rock’s remnants. These color variations are a natural indicator of authenticity and contribute to the stone’s unique charm.

Texture and Hardness

Turquoise is a relatively soft gemstone, registering a 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale. It has a waxy to sub-vitreous luster, and its texture can range from relatively smooth to porous and chalky. High-quality turquoise is dense and non-porous, often receiving treatments to enhance its hardness and color stability.

Common Imitations

Unfortunately, counterfeit turquoise is common in the market, often masquerading as the real deal. Imitations can be crafted from dyed howlite or magnesite, materials that mimic the gemstone’s texture and veining. Even reconstituted turquoise, a byproduct of leftover turquoise ground into a powder, mixed with resin, and dyed, can deceive an untrained eye.

However, these imitations often flaunt an unnaturally uniform color and lack the natural matrix patterns genuine turquoise possesses. Further, they may fade or change color over time, unlike authentic turquoise.

Becoming familiar with these distinguishing features is the first step to becoming a discerning collector or jeweler. Up next, we will delve into the rich meaning and symbolism of turquoise, further solidifying its status as a beloved gemstone for countless individuals.

The Meaning and Symbolism of Turquoise

Traditional Beliefs

The turquoise birthstone has a rich history permeating across many cultures. It’s a gemstone that has been held in high regard for thousands of years, its unique hue resonating with our ancestors’ beliefs and traditions. The ancient Egyptians, Persians, and native tribes of America adorned themselves with turquoise jewelry, believing it to be a powerful talisman.

The turquoise gemstone, with its distinctive color, is often associated with the sky and water, symbolizing life, purity, and protection. It was believed to possess protective qualities, warding off evil spirits and bringing good fortune to its wearer. Some cultures even considered it as a bridge connecting the spiritual realm with the physical world. For more on the traditional beliefs surrounding turquoise, you may wish to explore the blog post on turquoise meaning.

Birthstone Significance

According to modern gemstone lore, turquoise is associated with the month of December. It’s a symbol of prosperity, success, and good fortune. As a birthstone, turquoise is said to imbue its wearer with a sense of tranquility, balance, and inner peace. It is also believed to stimulate creativity and enhance communication skills, making it a popular choice for artists, writers, and public speakers.

Turquoise, as a birthstone, is a token of celebration for those born in December. It serves as a reminder of their unique traits and potential, and the vibrant hue of turquoise is a reflection of their vibrant spirit and zest for life.

When set in turquoise jewelry, such as turquoise rings or turquoise necklaces, it not only adds a splash of color but also carries the profound symbolism and emotional resonance attached to it. Wearing a piece of turquoise jewelry is not just a fashion statement; it’s a personal expression of one’s identity, beliefs, and aspirations.

In conclusion, the turquoise birthstone is more than just a beautiful gem. Its rich color, filled with depth and complexity, mirrors the age-old beliefs and modern significance attached to it. It remains a gem of choice for individuals seeking a symbol of protection, prosperity, and personal growth.

Tips on Working with Turquoise Birthstone

The allure of the turquoise birthstone is undeniably captivating, and its versatility offers a plethora of opportunities for creation. However, to truly unlock the potential of this gemstone, one must understand the key techniques in working with turquoise.

Cutting and Polishing Techniques

Turquoise, being a relatively soft gemstone, requires careful cutting and polishing to preserve its natural beauty. Cutting should be done on a trim saw with a thin blade, ensuring that the stone is kept cool with water to prevent heat damage. It’s crucial to remember that the softer nature of turquoise makes it susceptible to chips and scratches, therefore, a gentle touch is necessary.

Polishing, on the other hand, can highlight the stone’s unique color and texture. A common method is to use a lapidary wheel with varying grits. Start with a coarse grit for shaping, then gradually move to finer grits for smoothing and finally, polishing. The final polish should bring out the stone’s brilliant turquoise color.

Care and Maintenance

Turquoise requires specific care and maintenance to retain its luster and color. Avoid exposing the gemstone to harsh chemicals, cosmetics, and prolonged sunlight as these may alter its color and cause fading. When cleaning, use a soft, damp cloth and steer clear from ultrasonic cleaners that can cause cracks.

It’s also essential to store your turquoise properly. Keep it separate from harder gemstones to avoid scratches, and wrap it in a soft cloth or place it in a fabric-lined box. Remember, proper care can significantly prolong the life of your turquoise gemstone.

Setting in Jewelry

The setting of turquoise in jewelry requires consideration due to its soft nature. Bezels, the most common setting for turquoise, protect it from knocks and allow the stone’s beauty to take center stage in pieces like turquoise rings and turquoise earrings. Prong settings, while offering a more minimalistic look, may leave the stone vulnerable to damage.

When setting turquoise, jewelers should make sure the gemstone fits snugly in its setting and avoid applying too much pressure which might cause it to crack. Also, it’s best to set the stone last when making a piece to avoid any damage from heat or tools.

Working with turquoise is an art. It’s a process that requires patience, skill, and a deep understanding of the gemstone’s unique properties. By mastering these techniques, you can create beautiful pieces that showcase the timeless appeal of turquoise.

Buying Guide for Turquoise Birthstones

Adept jewel enthusiasts and amateurs alike should remain well-informed when purchasing turquoise birthstones. The following factors can guide your decision-making process, helping you discern the value of turquoise and ensure that you are buying authentic, high-quality stones.

Quality Indicators

When assessing the quality of turquoise, there are several key indicators to consider. The color of the stone is a primary factor; genuine turquoise ranges from sky blue to green, with turquoise color often indicating the stone’s origin. For example, Iranian turquoise tends to be a deep, sky-blue hue, while American turquoise is usually greener. However, consistency in color throughout the stone typically signifies high quality.

The hardness and texture of the stone are also crucial. Authentic turquoise has a waxy luster and is relatively soft, rating between 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. Moreover, the presence of veins or ‘matrix’, which are remnants of the surrounding rock, can add to the stone’s character and beauty, but too much matrix can compromise the stone’s value.

Price Range

The price of turquoise birthstones can vary significantly, depending largely on their quality, size, and origin. High-quality turquoise, known for its impeccable color and minimal matrix, can fetch a hefty price. On the other hand, lower-grade turquoise, often treated or stabilized to enhance its color and durability, is more affordable.

As a rough guide, turquoise can range anywhere from $0.50 to $1000 per carat, depending on the factors mentioned above. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what you’re buying and ensure it aligns with your budget and expectations.

Where to Buy

Turquoise birthstones can be purchased from various sources. Reputable jewelry stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, often carry a selection of turquoise pieces, from turquoise earrings to turquoise engagement rings.

Gemstone fairs and artisan markets can also be treasure troves for unique turquoise pieces. However, always ensure the seller can provide information about the stone’s origin and any treatments it has undergone. For online purchases, look for vendors who offer clear, high-resolution photographs, comprehensive details about the stone, and a return policy.

Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to buying turquoise birthstones. By understanding the indicators of quality, you can confidently navigate the diverse market and find the piece that truly resonates with you.


The Enduring Appeal of Turquoise Birthstones

As we draw to a close on our exploration of the captivating turquoise birthstone, it becomes clear why this gem has maintained its allure throughout the centuries. The turquoise stone is not merely an object of beauty; it is an emblem of culture, tradition, and significance that transcends time.

The enduring appeal of turquoise lies in its unique blend of color, history, and meaning. Its myriad shades of blue and green, reminiscent of the earth and sky, offer a diverse palette that captivates the eye. The turquoise color is a symbol of tranquility and wisdom, which resonates deeply with many individuals and cultures.

From ancient civilizations to contemporary societies, turquoise has been revered and valued. Its historical use spans across continents, marking it as an integral part of human heritage. The rich tapestry of stories and beliefs that surround turquoise further enhance its appeal.

In the realm of jewelry, turquoise stands as an epitome of versatility. Whether it’s embedded in turquoise rings, strung into turquoise necklaces, or set into turquoise earrings, this birthstone never fails to impress. Its ability to complement both contemporary and traditional designs makes it a favorite among jewelers and wearers alike.

Moreover, the symbolism of turquoise as a birthstone lends it a personal and spiritual dimension. The turquoise meaning is deeply intertwined with notions of protection, healing, and luck, making it a cherished gift for those born in the month of December.

In conclusion, the enduring appeal of turquoise birthstones lies in their extraordinary blend of aesthetic allure, historical significance, versatile use, and profound symbolism. As we continue to appreciate and value this gem, we are not merely participating in a trend. We are becoming part of a timeless tradition that celebrates the beauty, mystery, and depth of turquoise.