Turquoise of stunning beauty has been mined in Iran (formerly known as Persia) for over 5000 years. Although Iranian production accounts for just a small proportion of the world’s total output, its turquoise still sets the standard for quality.
In Iran, turquoise is called “Ferozah,” which translated means “victory.” It is Iran’s national gemstone.
It is believed that the first specimens of turquoise to which the Europeans were exposed probably came from Iran via trading posts in Turkey. One must wonder, if the Europeans who gave this gemstone its name new of its true origin, would you be reading the Persquoise Guide?
The best of Iranian turquoise is rich blue, with less matrix than most turquoise mined elsewhere. It is also distinguished by white patches. Turquoise is never a hard mineral, but Iranian turquoise is usually harder than turquoise mined in other locations. Today, only the turquoise coming from the Southwest U.S. comes close to Iranian turquoise in color richness and beauty.
The Persians classified turquoise into three quality groups:
- Angushtari. This is first quality, suitable for the finest jewelry. These stones had the rich blue “Persian turquoise” color with little marking or matrix.
- Barkhaneh. This is second-quality turquoise, much like Angushtari but with more markings and matrix.
- Arabi. These stones were considered third-rate due to a pale blue or green shade or unwanted speckles. (Spots in Persian turquoise tend to be white, not black.)
Turquoise is commercially mined in Iran in just one location: a section of the Ali-mersai mountain range, outside of the city of Mashhad. Mashhad is the capital of the Khorasan province.