Ancient yet always at the heart of current fashion – such is the extraordinary quality of the gemstone Turquoise. The brilliant sky-blue stone is one of the most beautiful semi-precious stones and a favorite of all jewelry makers and gemstone aficionados. In fact, it is remarked many a times that no other opaque stone is as stunning and as admired as turquoise.
Turquoise is perhaps the oldest stone known to man; the lucky charm of kings, warriors and shamans. A historical fact unknown about turquoise is that the gemstone is believed to be a holy stone, used to guard against negative energy. The brightness of the stone symbolizes happiness and it is also believed to boost self confidence.
The powerful and opaque stone of protection is soothing to touch, healing for the eyes, as if it is speck of the azure heaven passed down to earth. The unique hues of blue, or blue-green, attribute to the name ‘Turquoise’. The intricate web of cream or brown inherent veins serves to boost its character.
History of the Gemstone And Meanings
The history of turquoise is extensive and storied. From early civilizations to recent times, turquoise history has played a significant role in the esteemed reputation of this stone.
Some historians believe that during the thirteenth century, turquoise was named so due to the false belief that it originated from Turkey. This might be true or that the name ‘turquoise’ has been coined from the French term, pierre turquoise, meaning “Turkish stone”, because Turkey was the main trade route to bring turquoise to Europe and Venetian traders often purchased the gemstone from Turkish bazaars.
For many thousands of years, the use of turquoise has spanned all civilizations, revered as a symbol of wisdom, immorality and nobility.
Precisely when turquoise rose to fame is unknown to man. There is archaeological evidence as well as literary references that precede the Christian period by five millennia.
The four bracelets of Queen Zar, worn on her mummified arm, date back to the 2nd ruler of Egypt’s First Dynasty, nearly 5500 BC.
Turquoise beads dating back to 5000 B.C. have been discovered in Iraq. Archaeological evidence suggests that Egyptians were mining the turquoise in the Sinai in 3200 B.C.
One of the oldest known turquoise-producing sources is Persia, where historians believe the stone has been mined for over 2,000 years. Turquoise stones obtained from this region are famous for their vibrant, robin’s egg blue color.
In those times, Persians assumed that turquoise symbolized the heavens because of its striking blue color and used the stone to adorn the domes of palaces and sacred places of worship. Two mines, Sarabit el-Khadim and Wadi Maghareh are known to be the oldest known mines in the region
The Southwestern United States is a prominent source of turquoise and plays a significant role in the history of turquoise. Archeological evidence suggests that nearly thousands of years ago, ancient American tribes began mining turquoise stones at a spot now known as the mineral Park Mine. Their gems have been discovered from New Mexico to Argentina.
Turquoise was elaborately worn by Pharaohs and Aztec kings. The death mask of Tutankhamen was encrusted with turquoise. The treasure of the last ruler of the Aztecs, Montezuma, now exhibited in the British Museum, consists of a stunning carved serpent enveloped by a mosaic of turquoise.
Indian priests wore turquoise in religious ceremonies when calling upon the powerful spirit of the sky. Many revered turquoise as the universal stone, believing that wearing that stone would make their minds become one with the universe.
Because of its capacity to change colors, it was used in predicts or divining. To the ancient Indian, turquoise, worn or used during ceremonies signified the god of the sky active on the earth.
The Apache believed that wearing the turquoise aided warriors and hunters to aim precisely. The Zuni assumed it as a guard against demons and in Asia it was believed to protect from evil eye. Tibetans used turquoise in traditional jewelry as well as ritual objects. Ancient manuscripts retrieved from India, Afghanistan, Arabia and Persia suggests that the color variations in turquoise indicated the health of the wearer. The stone was also believed to promote wealth and prosperity.
Turquoise rings are still a popular forget-me-not gift in Europe today.
Occurrence And Places of Origins
Mother Nature has been very generous in the distribution of this precious stone. Although super quality turquoise deposits are uncommon, good quality turquoise is deposited in isolated sites on nearly every continent.
In North America, deposits of the finest quality turquoise can be found in numerous southwest states, particularly Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. In South America, Chile is a prominent source of respectable quality deposits.
Turquoise deposits are also found in Colorado, California, Virginia and Utah.
Composition of Turquoise
Turquoise is a blue to blue-green mineral comprising of copper aluminum phosphate. The mineral is a hydrous phosphate of aluminum, which consists of a small trace of copper. The copper is responsible for the blue color of the mineral. When the turquoise mineral is coupled with iron, greenish turquoise is produced. If the mineral has traces of zinc, the turquoise formed will be yellowish in color.
The dark veins and other marks in turquoise are the matrix, parts of the rock that ‘cultivated’ the gemstone. The quantity of matrix present differs, and so does the color of the stone, because turquoise can be formed in different types of rock.
• Black matrix – iron pyrite
• Yellow matrix – rhyolite
• Brown matrix – iron oxide
Physical Healing Properties
Turquoise is believed to be a strengthening stone, beneficial to cure fatigue, depression or panic attacks.
It promotes the physical and psychic immune system, enhances assimilation of important nutrients, and averts pollution and viral infections. It has detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce acidity and regulating stomach, gout, and rheumatism.
Turquoise aids in troubles of the eyes, ears, neck, throat and brain, particularly headaches, cataracts and migraines and problems with balance.
The gemstone is also beneficial to the respiratory system and helps in curing lung disorders and allergies. Wearing a turquoise necklace helps avert tracheitis and other bronchial symptoms. By healing the breath, turquoise may treat speech disorders such as stammering.
Emotional Healing Properties
Turquoise is the most effective healer, providing comfort for the spirit and relieve for the body. It promotes the overall emotion and mood by balancing and inducing a feeling of calm and peace. Keeping turquoise close to the body helps to restore drained vitality and lifts dampened spirits. It alleviates stress and restores focus to the center heart. The empathetic and balancing nature of the stone help the wearer realizes sources of happiness and sorrow, and to attain stability between them.
Considered a stone of purification, Turquoise disperses negative energy and alleviates electromagnetic smog from the atmosphere. It boosts self-realization and helps in analytical problem-solving, thus soothing the nerves when speaking in public.
It helps calm down mood swings, and disbands the dispirited attitude of self-sabotage. If the wearer is feeling bullied or discriminated, turquoise helps in empowerment.
Tibetan Turquoise is considered an effective anti-hysteria stone, used to calm those with an affinity to over-react to situations.
Turquoise ignites the initiation of romantic love, and encourages spontaneity in romantic matters.
The color change in the stone is believed to warn the wearer of impending danger or infidelity.
Spiritually, turquoise cures and cleanses both the male and female energy centers and the physical body. It acts to stimulate wisdom and understanding, and to boost trust, compassion, and the appreciation of beauty.
Turquoise improves the ability to perceive all aspects of ourselves, good and bad, and to combine these aspects into a unified being, and accept and embrace who we are.
Birthstone of December
The turquoise is the traditional birthstone of the month of December and it relates to the zodiac sign of Sagittarius.