December 24, 2012


Earlier this month on the Etsy Fort Worth blog, we learned that Turquoise is one of the birthstones for December.  That blog post can be found by clicking here.

Today I want to talk a little about the different types and quality of Turquoise.  I have a pendant for sale in my shop that I had a customer inquire about the quality of the Turquoise.  Wondering whether it had been dyed or not.   I suspect this is a question a lot of consumers have.

I am by no means an expert on the subject of Turquoise, but do consider myself a collector.  I can only tell you by my own experience how to spot lower quality dyed Turquoise.

Most of the Turquoise I purchase is online.  In the beginning, I had to rely on the descriptions given by the seller.  To a degree you still  have to have a level of trust when purchasing either Turquoise supplies or finished Turquoise jewelry.

Turquoise is a soft stone rating 5-7 in hardness on the MOHS scale. Much of the Turquoise on the market has been stabilized.  This is almost a necessity due to the softness of the stone.  And as a maker, I am grateful for this process.  There is nothing more frustrating than creating an elaborate setting only to go to set the stone and have it break because it's so soft.

A lot of Turquoise on the market has been dyed.  Most suppliers sell these items and disclose the information.  You will see the letters D/S in the description.  This is the abbreviation for Dyed and Stabilized.  Personally, I don't mind stabilized.  Dyed, not so much.

These first three examples are all Turquoise that have been dyed.  For me, the dead giveaway is the intensity of the saturated color.  Natural Turquoise just isn't this dark.

This is Sleeping Beauty Turquoise.  It is highly prized and one of the most valuable forms of Turquoise due to it's bright blue color.  This stone has been dyed for uniformity of color.  Surprisingly it does not diminish it's value.

The following photos are all examples of Turquoise I know to be natural:

Turquoise ranges in color from blue to green and every combination in between.  Color isn't the only thing you should use to determine if a stone has been dyed or not.   I think the most important thing to know about Turquoise is that it most often has matrix of brown or black in it.  It is rare to find a natural Turquoise of notable size that is a solid color without any matrix at all.  For me this is the beauty of Turquoise.  I love the rustic appearance of it.

Another thing you will see often in Turquoise is a backing.  This is due to the softness of the stone.  It helps to keep it strong and to maintain the form the lapidary artist has cut it into.

These are all examples of stones that have been backed.  When bezel set, these backings do not show, but are vital in lending stability to the Turquoise.

If you are a maker and looking for Turquoise stones, I would recommend finding a good Lapidary artist or supplier that you can rely on to disclose things like stabilization of the stone and dyeing.  Good Turquoise isn't cheap.  If the price is too good to be true, it's probably because it is a low quality dyed stone.

This post written by Amy of Amy Nicole Artisan Jewelry.
Visit her shop on Etsy to view her silversmithed jewelry.
Her blog can be found here.