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Turquoise Truth

So, we’ve already established that I have a thing for turquoise. Somehow, it is like a little black dress, no matter which one you have, you always want another. No two are quite the same, and this can also be said of turquoise. It is found in so many varieties and colors - each piece is absolutely unique!

The first "fabricated" Turquoise - turquoise fiance
Ancient Egyptian faience at the MET

Let’s talk about the idea of “real“ vs. “imitation" turquoise.

Ancient Egyptian faience was the first imitation turquoise, it was invented to replicate the saturated blue color of turquoise. Because turquoise was so highly sought after but hard to mine, it was extremely expensive. Originally, turquoise was mined from the Sinai Dessert, nestled between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. The Ancient Egyptians called the area, “the Country of Turquoise.” But because this semi-precious stone was so rare and difficult to mine the ever-inventive Egyptians created what is likely the first “fake turquoise”. It is called faience and believed to have been developed specifically to simulate turquoise. This man-made substance allowed the Egyptians to make a wide variety of objects covered in shiny, bright blue glaze like the shades of turquoise. The color was closely linked with fertility, life, and the gleaming qualities of the sun.

What about stones that look and feel a lot like turquoise?

The most common substitutes for genuine turquoise are howlite and magnesite. They are naturally grey or chalky white color stones, but with very similar properties and hardness to turquoise. They can easily be dyed and effectively pass for real turquoise. You can (very carefully) use nail posh remover and a Q-tip to test if a stone is authentic turquoise, if that beautiful color rubs off and exposes white stone underneath – it’s probably howlite or magnesite. Another example is stabilized turquoise, which is real turquoise that has been treated with a substance, like a plastic resin, to harden and deepen its color. Or reconstituted turquoise which is created when fragments of turquoise are crushed into powder and mixed with epoxy. This types of turquoise is not considered fake, but less valuable than a gem grade piece of turquoise.

What does all of this mean to turquoise lovers? Are we supposed to hate what some might refer to as "imitation" turquoise?

My opinion is lets not! When it comes to jewelry I feel that we all need to channel our inner Marie Kondo and if your jewelry "sparks joy", regardless of its exact mineral composition you should embrace it! I use a variety of types of turquoise in my designs… and I’ve even been known to incorporate some high quality howlite and definitely stabilized or reconstituted turquoise – but I still haven’t used any ancient Egyptian faience yet!😉 SHOP TURQUOISE

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