My mother has always told me that turquoise will never go out of style. Our family is Navajo and between my grandmother, mother, and four aunts we have enough communal turquoise to sink a ship. I joke that when my grandmother crosses over, we will open her closet to discover a secret cave overflowing with turquoise jewelry like a dragon’s lair.
It turns out turquoise has been in fashion for over 3,000 years, so I guess once again, momma’s right. With a history this old, turquoise has more than just staying power, it’s part of our human legacy. In cultures across the globe, this ocean-like gem has been used in art, personal adornment, and ceremony for eons. The ancient Egyptians, whom I like to call our fashionista forefathers, were no strangers to turquoise jewelry. Native Americans are perhaps most well known for our reverence of this sky-colored stone, but our distant relatives in Asia also have a long-standing relationship with turquoise. The Chinese, whose homeland is a major source of turquoise, have used the stone in their art and jewelry for centuries.
A couple of years ago, my father visited the Buddhist country of Buhtan, nestled high in the Himalayans, which in my opinion is about as far away from New Mexico as a person can get. He returned with prayer beads and a prayer wheel, both accented with turquoise, and a book that showed the smiling faces of little Buhtanese boys and girls that looked like they could be my cousins!
Perhaps one reason this precious stone seems to connect people around the planet is that it is found in many different countries. Here in the American Southwest, we are home to the famed Kingman Turquoise known for its bright blue tone and characteristic veining, along with the vividly blue Sleeping Beauty stones, and a handful of rare stones from now-closed mines including Lone Mountain, Number 8, and our very own Cerrillos mine. The icy-blue Larimar is one of the most rare and highly sought after turquoise stones in the world and comes from the remote Barahona region in the Dominican Republic.
Rich in turquoise, China has mined it for 2,000 years and now accounts for over 60% of stones used today. Some of the finest stones originated in this beautiful country, including the deep blue-green Cloud Mountain Turquoise with its dramatic black matrix. Historically the bluer the turquoise the more sought after, but today green stones are being given the credit they deserve for their own striking tones. Like their blue sisters, these green stones can be sourced from mines in Nevada as well as China with little very little differences in their appearance.
At American West Jewelry we of course love our turquoise and enjoy finding new and interesting sources for it to keep our stones as unique as our jewelry. While we may be best known for our striking Sleeping Beauty Collection, we also craft a large selection of breathtaking pieces using high quality green stones. But no matter which stone you decide to take home, I think this ancient Arabic proverb sums up our turquoise mission perfectly: “Turquoise given by a loving hand carries with it happiness and good fortune.”