“Is your turquoise stabilized?” This is a question I get asked all the time. Many people are actually proud of the fact that they will refuse to buy turquoise that has been stabilized, only to go to another store or vendor and purchase turquoise that has been stabilized. Yep, you read that right. They end up buying stabilized turquoise elsewhere, thinking they are getting “natural” turquoise just because someone told them it was natural.
Surprisingly, there are also many people who believe the myth that stabilized turquoise is a bad thing or means you are getting fake or dyed turquoise. This is not always the case, but you can be fooled if you are not careful.
Stabilized does not mean dyed, it means the color has been stabilized, but you DO need to be very careful. Armed with a little bit of information, you can protect yourself against buying turquoise that is not the real deal.
In truth, *about 97% of all (I’m not kidding… all) turquoise on the market today is stabilized. Stabilization is necessary in order to maintain the beautiful color of your turquoise and harden the stone. Turquoise changes color over time because it gradually absorbs oils from the skin as it is worn and as it comes into constant contact with the natural elements. The colors in stabilized turquoise, however, are permanent. The color is stabilized.
Another reason for stabilizing turquoise is that turquoise is a relatively soft stone. Stabilizing hardens the stone so we can easily cut and drill it. (By drilling I mean the little hole we put in the bead so you can string it.) The hardness of gemstones is measured on what is called the Mohs (sounds like hose only with an M) hardness scale measuring from 1 to 10. As a comparison, diamonds are a 10 on this scale; turquoise is a 5 or 6.
Now here is where some of the mis-information comes in. Many people associate stabilization with dying and treating the stone. We (meaning our shop) stabilize our turquoise under pressure using a clear organic process that absorbs into the rock, permanently hardening it and deepening its color. Sort of the way a sponge turns a darker color when you put water on it. We use a proprietary colorless process, meaning we created our own closely guarded formula that organically stabilizes without the use of dyes. All of our turquoise beads are natural color and you will get that in writing when you purchase from us.
Just so you know… it is during the stabilization process than many other processors use dyes to color the stone to make it more blue, which provides a higher perceived value to the stone. In other words, it is very easy to take a stone that is not turquoise (like Howlite for instance) and make it look like turquoise to an unsuspecting buyer. It is also easy to enhance cheap turquoise to make it look like the more expensive Sleeping Beauty turquoise or other American mined turquoise. Those who dye and enhance turquoise know that American turquoise is more valuable and a true investment turquoise that has steadily increased in value over the years, and they know they can put a higher price tag on their turquoise, thinking you won’t know the difference.
If you prefer natural color turquoise, my advice is that you make sure if you are buying stabilized turquoise that the process did not include dyes of any kind. Stabilized does not mean “dyed“. This is another misconception floating around in the public domain. When in doubt about anything during your turquoise purchase, insist on getting it in writing from the seller. Ask them to certify the turquoise as natural (not stabilized and not dyed) or natural color turquoise (stabilized but not dyed or enhanced in any way). You can see some examples of dyed turquoise on our website at http://www.theturquoisechick.com/examples.htm to help you discern your purchases online or in person.
Also, please check out our reference guide to the five kinds of turquoise as described by law available on our website. Here is the link: http://www.theturquoisechick.com/kinds.htm Remember, knowledge is the best way to protect yourself when buying turquoise online or otherwise.
Until next time…
Copyright © 2011 Lin Valentine and Southwest Turquoise
This article may not be used without the express written permission of the author.
If a stone is advertised as turquoise it could be referring to the color rather than the stone. If it is advertised “turquoise like” or if advertised with turquoise in front of the name of the actual stone, i.e., turquoise Howlite, then you know it isn’t turquoise and the price should be lower than what you would expect to pay for actual turquoise.
Everybody has their pet peeve. Mine is “purposeful misinformation” when it comes to selling gemstones. Not just turquoise, but any gemstone. You know, when you ask a seller or dealer a question about a stone they are selling, they should have an answer for you.
At first, the number of people who told me they like knowing the mine their turquoise comes from when they buy from us surprised me. After doing some online research, however, I was even more surprised to see the number of sellers who never even mention what kind of turquoise they are selling. It was all labeled the same, just “turquoise”, i.e., Turquoise Necklace or Turquoise Earrings, etc. After asking around I found that the sellers didn’t know where their turquoise came from.
In checking further, I was astonished at how many people were selling turquoise on the Internet that was clearly not turquoise at all, but rather, dyed stone of some kind. That was several years ago. Not much has changed since then. In fact, I think the situation is worse now.
It’s very hard to tell sometimes whether or not beads are dyed, especially if you only have photos on the Internet to look at, but there are some things you can watch out for.
One of the most common problems for consumers is the enormous amount of dyed Howlite being sold. Because of the veining, it can be very hard to tell if you are getting real turquoise or an inexpensive stone like Howlite that has been dyed to look like turquoise.
Here is a link to a page I created for you with several different photos of dyed Howlite.
This will give you an idea of what to watch out for. The egg photo on this page is used as an example on Wikipedia of what dyed Howlite looks like and how real it can look to an unsuspecting buyer.
There are also some photos on this web page of plastic beads next to authentic turquoise beads so you can see the difference. Of course you won’t have the luxury of seeing these side-by-side when buying online or perhaps even in person, but you can at least get an idea of what to look for. You will notice that up against the ‘just a little bit too perfect’ fake beads, even spherical turquoise has some color variation which is apparent in all natural color beads (i.e. the little swirls of color variations you see, plus the beads are not all exactly the same color).
There is actually Howlite for sale on the Internet right now called “Sleeping Beauty turquoise Howlite” and is priced in the range of what you would expect to pay for turquoise. Believe me, there is no such thing as “Sleeping Beauty turquoise Howlite”. This is clearly dyed Howlite and has no actual turquoise within the stone itself.
To their credit, some sellers will actually tell you they are selling turquoise Howlite (turquoise, referring to the color in this case). Obviously this is dyed stone because Howlite is white in its natural state. If this is what you like and what you want, then by all means buy it! Buy what you are attracted to. Obviously, the seller is being honest. Just make sure you are not paying authentic turquoise prices for an inexpensive stone that has been dyed.
I receive mail frequently from people asking me to tell them if they bought “real” turquoise or not or asking me to tell them something about the turquoise they bought from a “dealer” they found online. The most recent letter was from a woman who was told she was buying Pilot Mountain turquoise. The picture she sent me was of travertine (also called Mexican Onyx) and reconstituted turquoise inlay. In reality, there was very, very little turquoise in the beads she probably paid handsomely for.
There are times when dyed Howlite or other stone dyed to resemble turquoise looks so real that the average person cannot tell. The very best way you can protect yourself from misrepresentation is to obtain written documentation of your purchase. Turquoise dealers are required by law to accurately and truthfully represent the stones they are selling. The Federal Trade Commission guidelines suggest that buyers get a receipt from the seller that includes vital information about their purchase such as the condition of the turquoise they are buying, the mine it came from and whether or not the color is natural or dyed.
If you are buying a Native American made piece of jewelry (with or without turquoise) you should also make sure you are buying the real thing by asking for the name of the person who made the piece and the name of the tribe, and get it in writing. An authentic piece of Native American made jewelry with documentation is far more valuable than a replica. A reputable dealer will not hesitate to give you this information.
A customer should always be able to trust the person who is selling to them and should be able to “get it in writing” when in doubt. Your biggest defense is to educate yourself about turquoise as much as you can and to always “get it in writing”.
Until Next Time… Rock On!
Copyright © 2009 Lin Valentine and The Turquoise Chick
This article may not be used without the express written permission of the author.
TURQUOISE – the Master Healer The Spiritual History of Turquoise
The world over, Turquoise is known as a Master Healer. Native Americans and Shaman’s around the globe use Turquoise to give aid and guidance during a Vision Quest. To receive a Vision Quest is to understand your purpose in life.
According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), turquoise is one of the world’s most ancient gemstones. Archaeological excavations have revealed that Egyptian royalty wore turquoise jewelry as early as 5500 B.C. Chinese artisans were carving it more than 3,000 years ago. Native American tribes have worn turquoise as a ceremonial gem and bartered and adorned their jewelry with it for thousands of years. Turquoise was just as valuable then, and the Native Americans used Turquoise to pay for goods. The Navajo and Hopi in Arizona value Turquoise as an attractor of prosperity and fertility of the soil.
The world over, wherever Turquoise is found, the local people all have the tradition that this sky blue stone is THE Master Healer. There are still some things that scientists cannot understand. What we DO know is that it works. The healing quality of healing stone vibrations is very real.
Turquoise is par excellence for spiritual attunement, healing emotions, and balancing the auric bodies. It is great for relieving and dissipating sadness or grief. There is an uplifting quality as well as a calming quality to Turquoise. Can you imagine wearing it in your energy field? It is an experience you just have to try.
Because Turquoise is so effective on the etheric planes and because healing first takes place at the etheric levels, Turquoise is used to strengthen the entire anatomy. From headaches to repairing physical damage to the body, Turquoise works beginning in the energy field, where illness starts.
Turquoise is often used for skin disorders due to stress. And in ancient times it was used for eye problems, especially cataracts. Due to the copper content, it is powerful for arthritis and rheumatism. In addition to being the Master Healer, Turquoise is treasured as a powerful success and good luck stone.
It is useful to note that blue Turquoise (there is also green) works with the throat Chakra and lungs. Turquoise contains a high amount of phosphorus which is used in Homeopathy for lung problems. Even the ancients advised Turquoise for lung and breathing difficulties.
My love of Turquoise and desire to share it with others led me to begin a business selling Turquoise several years ago, starting with the gorgeous Sleeping Beauty variety. Our first store only carried only Sleeping Beauty Turquoise in only one size, 8mm nuggets. It was great! After receiving many requests for other sizes and shapes we expanded our store over time into what you see today at The Turquoise Chick. The price of turquoise has almost doubled in the past few years so our prices and our inventory look much different today than they did back then. (Which is a great reason to invest in American Turquoise! It is running out and getting more and more valuable over time.)
Turquoise colors range from light to medium blue or greenish-blue. Spider web turquoise, a popular variation, displays veins of matrix (its host rock) in web-like patterns. Persian (Iranian) turquoise is considered the finest quality and also the most expensive. It exhibits an intense light to medium blue, typically with no matrix. It has the ability to take on a glossy polish. Other turquoise varieties including American, Mexican, Egyptian, and Chinese are a significant source today. My Sleeping Beauty Turquoise comes from the Sleeping Beauty Mine located in Gila County, Arizona.
One of my greatest joys is working with and introducing people to the Master Healer. There simply is nothing like it! I guarantee it!
On the Internet since 1995
Copyright © 2008 Southwest Turquoise and The Turquoise Chick
PLEASE NOTE — WE ARE NOT DOCTORS. All suggested uses are gleaned from centuries of folklore and personal experience. Also, it is useful to note that no two people respond the same to vibrational healing energies. Persistent symptoms are best treated by your personal physician.