There are five “kinds” of turquoise as
described by law:
turquoise - turquoise that is so hard and beautiful that
it is simply mined, cut, polished and set into a piece of jewelry or carved into
a fetish or sculpture. Less than 3% of all the turquoise on the market worldwide
turquoise - soft or "chalk" turquoise has been
infused with a clear epoxy resin. The resin, under pressure, absorbs into the
rock, which permanently hardens the rock and deepens the color. (Kind of
like the way a sponge turns a deeper color when you get it wet.) Unlike the
collectible natural turquoise which deepens in color over time by gradually
absorbing oils from the skin as it is worn, the colors in stabilized turquoise
are permanent. Most of the turquoise on the market is stabilized and should not
cost as much as natural. Stabilized turquoise can be very beautiful, and is a
good buy. (More than 97% of the turquoise
on the market is stabilized.)
turquoise - soft or "chalk" turquoise that
is stabilized as described above, except that the epoxy resin is also dyed.
Colors in treated turquoise have a tendency to look artificial. Prices should be
much less than natural or stabilized.
turquoise - turquoise "chalk" that is very low
grade and has been ground into powder, saturated with epoxy resin, dyed, and
compressed into blocks or cakes to be cut into shapes for jewelry making. Prices
should be most inexpensive.
turquoise - there is no turquoise in this category.
Either there are stones like Howlite (white stone, very porous) dyed to look
like turquoise or there is pure plastic (epoxy resin) that has been dyed to look
like turquoise. It is a shame that these materials are set in silver and priced
as if they had intrinsic value.
reconstituted and imitation turquoise can be made to look remarkably like
collectible stones. Trust is the bottom line. Be sure that the seller guarantees
that the jewelry is what he or she says it is, not just verbally, but in
writing, including a signature on the sales document with the name of the store
on it. Also be sure to shop at businesses that offer refunds, whether the item
was bought on sale or not.
Source: Originally published by Indian Arts and Crafts Association,
4010 Carlisle Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107