By Marv Baskin
As published in The Desert Advocate
"Well, now hold
on there, Marv,” I hear ya’ll saying. “How in tarnation can turquoise be a piece
of the sky?” Well, sit a spell I’ll tell ya all ‘bout it.
Turquoise has long
been one of the most pop’lar stones here in Arizona and the Great Southwest.
It’s been a big part of lots o’ cultures, not just here in our Americas but
all over our planet! The word Turquoise has French origins and comes from traders
over yonder in Venice, Italy, who themselves bought it from the great bazaars
in Turkey. But the Turks brought it from great mines in Persia (now Iran). It
was one of the most important stones in Pre-Columbian America, Egypt and Persia.
Quite the hot commodity.
These days, its
popularity is global and is one of the most widely used in jewelry and its now
among the most valuable of the non-translucent minerals. Turquoise is the birthstone
for December and the anniversary stone for the 11th year of marriage. Europeans
give turquoise jewelry as forget-me-nots or as a pledge of adoration. In The
Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare uses this symbolism (ya’ll didn’t think I knew
‘bout such things, did ya?) when Leah gives a turquoise ring to Shylock to win
Turquoise is found
all over the world, includin’ Afghanistan. American turquoise is generally greener
than specimens from around the world and has white or brown veins. The famed
Arizona turquoise comes from the Kingman, Morenci and Bisbee copper mines.
If ya own some
of this purty stuff, ya ought to be knowin’ how to care fer it. The most common
dangers to turquoise are scratches, sharp blows, hot water, and household chemicals.
‘Cause it’s a hydrous stone – meaning it contains water – light or water can
change its color, and its relative softness can make it vulnerable to scratches.
The pores of the stone will easily absorb body oils or other oils, causin’ it
to yellow over time. And I ‘specially want you to hear me on this: never use
an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner on turquoise and chlorine (includin’ pool water)
should be avoided.
Like I sez, the
American culture’s not the first to be all giddy ‘bout turquoise. Navajos utilize
turquoise in rain ceremonies, which requires tossin’ the stone into a river.
They say that a piece of turquoise is actually a piece of the sky that has fallen
to Earth. And I cain’t say’s I doubt it. Others have said turquoise has the
ability to connect the Earth and the Sky, the symbols o’ spirit and body. The
Apache believe turquoise combines the powers of the sky and sea to help hunters
and warriors aim accurately. And the Zuni say turquoise can protect ‘em from
demons! Other cultures say turquoise is important in ensurin’ the fortunes of
warriors, hunters, and all tribal members.
But no matter what
ya might believe ‘bout turquoise, one thing’s fer sure: it’s as beautiful as
an Arizona sky!
to read about and see an image of rare
Sacred Buffalo turquoise.