Turquoise is an extremely ancient gemstone, that is very much back in fashion. The shining sky blue is one of the most popular trend colours in the world of jewellery and fashion.
In many cultures of the Old and New Worlds, this gemstone has been esteemed for thousands of years as a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune or a talisman. It really does have the right to be called a 'gemstone of the peoples'. The oldest evidence for this claim was found in Egypt, where grave furnishings with turquoise inlay were discovered, dating from approximately 3000 B.C.. In ancient Persia, the sky-blue gemstones were worn round the neck or wrist as protection against unnatural death. If they changed colour, the wearer was thought to have reason to fear the approach of doom. Meanwhile, it has been discovered that the turquoise certainly can change colour, but that this is not necessarily a sign of impending danger. The change can be caused by the light, or by a chemical reaction brought about by cosmetics, dust or the acidity of the skin.
In earlier times, turquoises were considered responsible for the material wellbeing of the wearer. The Persian scholar Al-Qazwini, for example, wrote: 'The hand that wears a turquoise and seals with it will never see poverty.' Turquoises were often worn on the turban, often surrounded with pearls, in order to protect their wearer against the 'evil eye'. As talismans, they adorned daggers, sabres and the bridles of horses. It was not until the time of the crusades that they came to Europe. Indeed it is from that period that the name 'turquoise' originates, meaning 'Turkish'.
In South, Central and North America too, the turquoise has always occupied a very special position among gemstones. The Aztecs in Mexico, for example, used to decorate their ceremonial masks with this stone which was holy according to their beliefs. The Indians of North America, who still produce a good deal of traditional silver jewellery with turquoises today, believe that the sky-blue gemstone opens up a direct connection between the sky and the sea.
At all times and over the world, turquoises have been worn as natural protection against the powers of darkness. If in earlier times they preserved horse and rider from unexpected falls, they are regarded today as the protective stone of pilots, air crews and other occupational groups who are exposed to an especially high degree of risk.
In modern gemstone therapy, those suffering from depression are recommended to wear a turquoise or a chain with turquoise beads. The turquoise' cheerful colour is said to endow reticent personalities with more confidence. It is also often given as a gift, a stone of friendship, for the turquoise is said to be responsible for faithfulness and constancy in relationships.
Being relatively soft, turquoises are sensitive. As the colour may pale when the stone has been worn for a long time, even high-quality stones today are treated with wax and subsequently hardened. This treatment makes the sensitive gemstone more resistant. In the trade, there are a large number of reasonably priced turquoises sealed with synthetic resin. They have a fresh colour and good durability. However, many of them are dipped in a colouring medium before being subjected to durability treatment - a process that must, according to the rules of the ICA, be drawn to the attention of the prospective purchaser. And there is also such a thing as a 'reconstructed turquoise', which is made from pulverised turquoise.
Because of their sensitivity, turquoises are almost always subjected to treatment of one kind or another, though this may take any of a number of different forms. For this reason, turquoises which have a good natural colour and are simply hardened with colourless wax or synthetic resin have a much higher value than stones whose colour has been 'improved'. So it is always advisable to purchase valuable turquoise from a reputable jeweller.
The best quality turquoises are of a pure, radiant sky blue, a colour which is highly esteemed with or without its fine, regular matrix. The more strongly the colour tends toward green and the blotchier and more irregular the matrix, the lower the estimate of the stone's quality.
Turquoise should be protected from cosmetics, heat and bright light. It is not a gemstone to take with you when you go sunbathing. It is best to give it a clean from time to time with a soft cloth.