When you think of turquoise do you just think of Southwest or Native American jewelry? Think again, in ancient Egypt it was mined for it's durability and has been found in tombs. The most precious and sought after turquoise was Persian. It's unblemished and sky blue with a hardness that shines beautifully when polished. Not only will you find fine cabochons in silver but the contrast in yellow gold is spectacular and surprising when found. Persian soldiers would have bridles set with these stones believing as a talisman protecting them from being thrown from their horses during battles which would leave them vulnerable to injury or death.
Turquoise in the United States is mostly found in blues to greens but there are also some additional colors. Deep blues seem to the most popular and show off well in sterling silver jewelry. While green turquoise is supposed to be less valuable, I have to disagree. You must appreciate the imperfections and go with how you feel about certain pieces. I had a Native American customer years ago who only collected green turquoise jewelry. She told me that in her tribe, the Zuni's that women wore green turquoise which represented the earth and female figure while men wore blue representing the sky. So there is much more to it than just value, it is also what it symbolizes in our lives.
Some turquoise can be identified by its matrix. Matrix inside a stone is caused by the surrounding parent rock the turquoise is found in. Some matrix which I find interesting have flecks of iron pyrite within that when polished look like silver. Spider web matrix is just as it sounds with adjoining lines within the stone giving it that spider web effect caused by the thin veins of the parent rock. These veins interweave throughout the stone making patterns as unique as a fingerprint. Sometimes found with veins of browns, rust, black, greens, yellows and white at times. Turquoise has a hardness on the Mohs scale of 6 so it makes it fairly durable and good for jewelry.
Beware of substitutes for turquoise when selecting your jewelry wardrobe pieces. It is porous and will absorb dyes well. Sometimes it will be found treated with waxes, oils or stabilized with plastics to improve the color or fill fissures within the stone. Howlite can be dyed to look like turquoise, as well as plastics and synthetics that are solid blues to look like Persian stones. Some agates are dyed to make them look like turquoise too. If you are not too familiar with turquoise make sure when purchasing your pieces that you are dealing with someone who is reputable. But as always I recommend buying what makes you feel good. Jewelry was meant to be worn, if you don't love it, it will just sit in your jewelry box.
My background was in social work in government agencies but that was over 30 years ago. It was emotional work that took its toll on me some days. I would spend the weekends going to estate sales, antique shops and swapmeets to regroup. Finally I gave up my job and decided to go into what I loved. I started selling my items at shows, swapmeets and privately and I never looked back. I love what I do now. While I am not an expert I do have an eye for the unusual and am always on the lookout for something new and unique. The best part is in the treasure hunt and then the research.