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The History of Turquoise

September 16th, 2011 Jewelry

Turquoise is widely thought to be named for the Turkish traders who introduced it to Europe. The gem forms when groundwater drips through rocks that have aluminum and copper in them. It is often found in copper deposits in desert environments. The oldest pieces are from Persia, which used to be the biggest producer. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the U.S. discovered high quality turquoise out West and has been the largest producer of the finest quality ever since.

The blue-green mineral has been around for centuries. Turquoise jewelry has been found on some of Egypt's mummified remains and ancient Greek philosophers referred to it in their writings. The ancient favorite remains a popular stone and is used in all kinds of jewelry.

There's plenty of evidence to prove that the original inhabitants of the Western hemisphere used turquoise. In the U.S., two Native American tribes - the Anasazi and the Hohokam - mined the opaque gem in the Southwest. It was a popular item to trade, as evidenced by archaeological findings far from their mining sources. For example, nuggets originating from New Mexico have been found in Aztec regions.

Turquoise was believed to bring good luck, so many cultures used the stone as a talisman. Believe it or not, the ornament was also used medicinally. People thought they could cure ailments like blindness by placing the stones over the eyes or grinding it into a powder and ingesting it. The mystical arts used the bauble to predict the future and influence states of mind. Today, many people wear turquoise on jewelry, often mounted in silver, to add a pop of color with a fun, natural feel.