Posted on December 12, 2019 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
One of the most popular semi-precious stones worn in the U.S. is the blue-green beauty we call turquoise. Turquoise is a mineral created when water containing copper and aluminum, among other elements, leaks through rock, forming hardened veins or nuggets. Sometimes referred to as the “oldest stone in man’s history,” turquoise has played a role in many ancient cultures, the earliest of which (that archeologists are able to tell) is Egypt’s first dynasty with the first known use of turquoise appearing the mummified arm of Queen Zar, circa 5,500 BCE. It’s also believed that turquoise appeared on The Breast Plate of Aaron, as detailed in Exodus.
In the Americas, turquoise was valued as a sacred stone by native tribes who lived in areas rich with turquoise. The Zuni, for example, carved colorful shapes from turquoise and created stunning mosaics of turquoise in their jewelry. Before the introduction of modern tools to these regions, turquoise was mined with stone tools. By the late nineteenth century, North American native tribes in the Southwestern United States began setting turquoise in sterling silver, using inspiration from European styles to create a distinct style of jewelry that’s still recognizable today. The Navajo, in particular, are credited with this beloved style.
Present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and California have produced the most turquoise in the United States with Arizona boasting the richest supplies. Sadly, due to the high cost of production, depleted mines, and the decline of the copper mining, an industry that often went hand-in-hand with turquoise mining, turquoise is increasingly difficult and expensive to source. One of Arizona’s most prominent mines, Sleeping Beauty, ceased production in 2012, and as a result, the price of untreated high-quality Sleeping Beauty turquoise has risen dramatically. Given the challenges facing the U.S. turquoise industry and the increased incentive to value natural resources and treasures, it’s likely that the value of turquoise will continue to increase.
Indeed, the spiritual value placed on the stone seems unwavering over the millennia. Once revered as a holy stone capable of bringing good fortune and warding off evil, the contemporary crystal healing tradition regards turquoise as a stone aiding self-forgiveness and strength. As a healing stone, it is sometimes used to treat depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and panic attacks. It is believed that turquoise helps us honor ourselves.
Whatever mystical associations turquoise may conjure for the wearer, it's undeniably one of the most beautiful and unique national treasures.
Are you a fan of this fascinating stone?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Pexels