When most people think of turquoise, the typical teal color usually comes to mind. The name of the color we know today was actually derived from the gemstone, turquoise. For most of time, blue turquoise varieties were considered most desirable, while green turquoise was thought to be inferior. It was believed by the ancients that blue turquoise did not lose color over time, and that stones with lesser blues would eventually fade to green. However, history has shown that this is not the case. Since recent times, the demand for green turquoise has increased. In fact, there are several green turquoise varieties that are now considered to be some of the top ranked turquoise available today, including many of Nevada's turquoise and also China's 'Skyhorse' and 'China Mountain' varieties.
Turquoise is colored by traces of copper, the same element responsible for the green-blue color of Paraiba tourmaline. Its greens can range from shades of bluish-green to apple-green or lime-green. Generally, if turquoise forms with less copper and more aluminum, the material tends to be green. But when zinc is also present, it can result a rare lime-green color; a rare hue found only in a few areas, including Mongolia and the United States. Much of the green turquoise from the USA gets its color from iron, rather than aluminum; if iron or zinc replaces the aluminum entirely, the material becomes iron-rich chalcosiderite or zinc-rich faustite. Veining is normal for green turquoise and matrix colors can vary from brown to black, and even from golden to yellow. Black matrix is usually owed to iron pyrite, while brown is usually caused by iron oxide. Golden colors may be due to rhyolite matrix.
Green turquoise is indeed a rarity, but it can be found in a few areas around the world. Mongolia and Egypt's turquoise deposits are known to occur more green than blue. Mines from India are also known to produce green turquoise. China has some very desirable deposits, but much of China's turquoise is often enhanced. The United States is today's leading producer of green turquoise. It is very popular for inlay jewelry in the Southwestern USA. The most famous green turquoise comes from Nevada's Tonopah Blue Gem mine. The Tonopah Blue Gem mine is famed for lime green turquoise with golden colored rhyolite matrix. The material from Tonopah is known to take an excellent polish and it's very hard compared to other deposits. Other notable Nevada mines include the Carico Lake Mine, the Pixie Mine, the Orvil Jack Mine, the Damale Mine and the Stennich Turquoise Mine.
Today, green turquoise is highly sought after by jewelers and collectors. The mining for green turquoise has drastically slowed down since the 1990s due to depleting sources. Thus, many are now buying it as an investment. Green turquoise is thought to possess all the same metaphysical properties as other turquoise varieties. It was especially popular among Native Americans. Some believe that turquoise possesses protective properties. The ancient Tibetans believed that turquoise carried strong healing powers. In Chinese feng shui, turquoise is believed to carry the energy of water. For those who follow Western astrology, it is the stone of Sagittarius. For modern birthstone followers, turquoise is often worn as a traditional birthstone for December.
- First Published: July-10-2014
- Last Updated: August-15-2017
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