Turquoise: A Quick History

Turquoise has a long history. As far back as the ancient Egyptians turquoise has been a sought-after stone. The Pharaohs and their families were mummified with gold and turquoise death masks, scarab beetles and bracelets. In China, ornate carved dragons, beautiful vases, and detailed turquoise tiles adorned wealthy houses. In North America, the Navajo Nation has worked with turquoise for time longer than memory. During the 12th and 13th centuries turquoise was introduced to France from the region of Turkey. Hence the name of the stone: Turquoise, which meant “of Turkish origin” in Old French.

From Left to Right: Egyptian Scarab Beetle, Chinese Dragon Tiles Seljuc Arabesque Vase, Navajo Naja Pendant.

In Navajo culture, Turquoise is the SkyStone. Legend has it that a long time ago the people suffered a period of drought. When finally the rains came the people rejoiced and danced in the rain. As the people danced, their tears of joy mixed with the rain and the earth and became turquoise. Thenceforth the SkyStone carried with it the life-giving qualities and good fortune of rain in the desert. Today the Navajo continue to craft beautiful traditional Turquoise jewelry, and also incorporate modern symbols and styles. These items are continually popular in the US and throughout the world.

Different cultures value different qualities in their Turquoise. In China the greener shades of Turquoise, as well as specimens with thick veins of rock are most valued. Like the Navajo, the Chinese ascribe life giving properties to the stone, in a fashion similar to the perceived powers of green Jade. In modern Navajo design, vibrant Turquoise with less than 50% veining and minimal pocking take center stage. Antique Turkish pieces are more blue than teal and feature very little veining. The ancient Egyptians favored the darker blue and vein-free, or nearly vein-free specimens which they used as inlay accents on gold pieces. Whether you prefer the greens, the blues, the veined, or vein-free varieties of Turquoise, it is agreed  – Turquoise is a beautiful stone in all its variety.

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