Arizona Turquoise, from 80’s to Today
The 1980s was a decade that made Sleeping Beauty turquoise very popular. During this time, jewelers and jewelry designers sought turquoise that was smoother in appearance and consistent in hue. This variety was named after the Gila County Mine – Sleeping Beauty. The mine has since closed, and as a result the price of this turquoise has gone up.
Remember the bold, big turquoise jewelry from this era? It may be fresh on your brain, since so much of the fashion from that decade has made a comeback. But, just in case you don’t recall, see this vintage piece featuring Sleeping Beauty turquoise on Etsy.
Morenci turquoise hails from southwestern Arizona. It ranges in light to dark blue in color and has flecks of black pyrite. When polished, the black pyrite takes on a silvery sheen. It was among the first American turquoise varieties to arrive on the market.
From the 90’s to today, turquoise from Kingman, Arizona mines have grown in popularity. It varies is shades of blue to a striking green, and often has a white pattern that is dyed black. You’ve likely seen this kind of stone in every style of jewelry from elaborately regal Navajo designs, to sleek, contemporary looks.
As far as Arizona turquoise is concerned, Bisbee and Kingman turquoise are probably tied for first in popularity today. Bisbee turquoise is recognized for its vibrant blue and green colors with delicate patterns and resilient hardness. The only Bisbee turquoise remaining is said to be from old miner’s stashes.
Nevada and Chinese Turquoise
Lander Blue turquoise is mined in Nevada and It’s typically recognized by its vibrant color and unique black spiderweb pattern. It is also among higher priced variations of turquoise.
Hubei Turquoise mined in China is also popular. However, buyer beware. According to industry sources, sometimes Chinese turquoise is not as pure as what is/was mined in the United States. It’s often enhanced with stabilizers or plastics to make it feel more solid or appear a more consistent color. Nonetheless, it still maintains a strong present in the marketplace for its looks and ease of affordability.
The Future of Turquoise
According to Smithsonian Magazine, turquoise is becoming as rare, if not more so, than diamonds, since most of the active turquoise mines have closed. Most of the turquoise produced in the U.S. currently is a resulting bi-product of the copper mining industry. This is in part due to the many restrictions the government has placed on turquoise mining. Less than 5 percent of turquoise mined worldwide have the necessary qualities to be cut and made into jewelry.
Turquoise jewelry has appeared, disappeared, and reappeared on fashion magazine’s ‘hottest jewelry trends’ list over the years. Despite this, it has become more of a staple – like diamonds and pearls were of our grandparents and great-grandparents’ generations.