The Thing About Turquoise…

January 26, 2023

The Thing About Turquoise…

Howdy! When we met out on the road (or even if you found me online) you may have noticed I work with lots of Turquoise. Turquoise isn’t just a color, it’s also a phosphate mineral comprised of copper and aluminum.  The colors of this class of stone varies across blues, greens, browns, yellows, even lavender with hits of neon green and the clear, sky-blue of classic Sleeping Beauty mined stones (those are NOT larimar, don’t get me started). The deep, greens, swirling blues and the cobalt blues are all Turquoise, Turquoise, Turquoise. I can be super nerdy about where a particular piece is from, my apologies if you felt like you walked into a “Turquoise Nerd Zone!”

Often, I’m asked what is it about Turquoise that pulls me back to it, time and time again? Well, I’ve already started talking about the colors, so let’s dive into how turquoise is formed, gets its colors and later I’ll talk about the feelings and memories this ancient stone evokes in me. Let’s dive into this (possibly nerdy) topic.


First, turquoise is not a primary formation rock, it’s a secondary replacement precipitate accretion, developing as water seeps through (primarily) volcanic rock to sediments and/or fault lines under the ground. As the water seeps into the cracks and crevices, oxygen interacts with copper and aluminum which precipitates (anyone remember high school chemistry?? A precipitate is a solid that forms out of a solution (in this case, copper, water, potassium, sediment, and earth sludge.)), and replaces other, original sediments. Ultimately, turquoise is formed by the relentless penetration of earth by water.

The colors and shades and differing colored matrices of turquoise are unique to each region and mine where turquoise is found. Sometimes, like in Bisbee, AZ, finding turquoise is a byproduct of copper mining. Each area reflects the minerals and elements present when the seams of turquoise are formed and the matrix the host rock or sedimentary rock which was not dissolved. Truly, each piece is one of a kind.

In the United States, turquoise is found primarily in the desert or dry regions of the Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and California. Intermixed iron causes green and yellow turquoise, while included zinc causes blue-green mixes. Worldwide, turquoise is found in other arid regions like ancient Persia (Iran, Armenia, Turkey), Egypt, Tibet, Australia, Mexico, and several regions in China.

All the shades of turquoise : OSJ in Tucson, AZ


All the cultures from these areas coveted turquoise and believed it had important metaphysical properties. Ancient Aztecs valued turquoise over gold, believing Quetzalcoatl (their feathered serpent God and progenitor of all Mesoamerican peoples) taught them how to cut and polish turquoise. One-way Aztecan royalty and high ranking people were identified was by how much turquoise they wore. Native Americans believed it had apotropaic (having the power to avert evil influences or bad luck) properties. The Persian people used it in mosaics and on domes, symbolizing the tranquility of heaven and ancient Egyptians associated the stone with their fertility, sky and love goddess, Hathor. Tibetans call turquoise the “Sky Stone,” a symbol of the sky brought to the earth.  When used as a token of love, they believe turquoise protects both the giver and recipient. In so many cultures, turquoise is valued as a symbol of wealth, spiritual awakening, protection and as a treasured partner in the journey of life.


And that’s why I’m so OBSESSSED with Turquoise; it carries feelings and emotions across the decades; it anchors me in the swirl of modern life. For me, the colors of turquoise are the shades of the sea and the sky. They are the mix of clouds across the heavens and their reflection in the oceans. I don’t know if it brings me enlightenment or wisdom, but it feels ok to hope that it does. The colors of turquoise are the colors of vacation, of peace, of the sun and sea and moon. They remind me of long days at the beach, the ocean tumbling my body in a swirl of salt, sand, and sea. Turquoise is the poetry of sunscreen and sandwiches and long days and nights on bridge watch in the Navy where hints of blues and greens sparkling across the water brought the soft exhale of a day finished or the sweet inhale of a new day begun. Turquoise is the color of my hopes, my dreams, my slice of peace and heaven in the striking Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Turquoise is irreplaceable, it’s precious and it’s tiny earthen fingerprints. No two pieces are ever the same. Like us, like humans and our lives and journeys. Turquoise changes over time, like a pearl, the oils of our skin merging with the stone as we live fiercely and dream fiercer.

Turquoise is everything, all at once. For me, and maybe for you (since you’ve read all the way to here). (Whispering- message me about these pendants or check out my on-line turquoise collection HERE.)

American Southwest Turquoise pendants by Margaret at OSJ


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