Turquoise:  A Piece Of The Sky

Turquoise: A Piece Of The Sky

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 him over.

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!

Click here to read about — and see an image of — rare Sacred Buffalo turquoise.


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