Turquoise Earrings: A Guide
Turquoise has been prized for a long time because of its distinctive color and captivating beauty. It has been a beloved stone used in jewelry for centuries and can be found in ancient pieces from the Native American, Asian, Egyptian, and Persian cultures. Turquoise is also believed to offer protection and good luck, and earrings made from this stone are often worn as talismans.
While many people are familiar with this stunning blue-green stone, they may not be as familiar with what to look for when buying turquoise earrings and other pieces of turquoise jewelry.
Keep reading for our comprehensive guide to earrings and other jewelry made from turquoise.
What Is Turquoise?
Turquoise is considered a semi-precious mineral. It is known for its vibrant blue and green coloring and the black vein-like pattern in the stone. There are various turquoise mines around the world, each producing a unique color and pattern of turquoise.
Turquoise is traditionally paired with sterling silver and is something that can be worn to any occasion. As a result, there has been an upsurge in the demand for turquoise earrings and other jewelry.
Before you decide to purchase your own turquoise earrings, read on for everything you need to know about this captivating gem.
How It’s Formed
When copper deposits in igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock are exposed to minerals such as phosphate, iron, and aluminum, turquoise stones are created. It is a delicate geological process that can only take place when the climate and conditions are right for turquoise formation.
As a result, there aren’t many turquoise deposits in the world. Most of the world’s turquoise mines are found in China, Iran, and the Southern part of the United States. The U.S. is the country that produces the most turquoise.
Symbolism and Benefits
In many cultures, turquoise is believed to symbolize protection, healing, and good fortune. Jewelry made from turquoise is often used as a talisman to ward off negative energy, invite positive energy, and bring the wearer good luck.
Some cultures believe that these stones can help to promote good communication and soothe anxiety. These stunning stones are also symbolic of inner growth and spirituality.
These properties are believed to be even more powerful when turquoise is used in earrings, as earrings are located close to the heart and face.
One of the main draws of turquoise jewelry is, of course, its beauty. The striking blue color of turquoise earrings is bound to add some bohemian chic to your ensemble, and they can be impressively versatile. Overall, turquoise jewelry makes for an excellent addition to any collection.
Turquoise comes in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and settings. Because there is such a wide variety to choose from, the choice can be difficult and you may not know what to look for when shopping for turquoise jewelry. Before you hit the checkout button, it can be helpful to know more about the factors that affect the value of turquoise.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for turquoise items.
Turquoise is ideal for those looking for one-of-a-kind earrings.
Because turquoise is a water-based stone that is formed when minerals react with the copper in host stones, the color of it can vary depending on where it was mined, and which minerals are rich in that area. While blue is the most common color, turquoise can range from white to vivid shades of green.
The minerals that give the turquoise stone its color can also affect the durability, hardness, and quality of the turquoise. As a result, some of the most expensive stones are a deep green or pale blue, rather than the bright blue that is most often associated with this stone.
One of the characteristics that make turquoise so unique is the ‘matrix’. The matrix is a web-like pattern made up of veins in the stone. These are typically black or brown, which contrasts with the bright blues and greens of the turquoise. Each stone has a different matrix pattern, making each stone as unique as a fingerprint.
Each of the mines around the world produces a different kind of matrix, just as they produce a unique color of turquoise. The following are some of the prettiest colors on the market:
The Bisbee mine is located in Southeastern Arizona, in the U.S. It produces some of the highest-quality turquoise stones, which are known for their high density and durability. This also makes them more valuable. The stones from this mine are a deep blue, and their matrix is dark brown and black. Turquoise earrings and jewelry made from Bisbee stones are a favorite among collectors but are typically more expensive than other, less durable stones.
Turquoise deposits are typically found close to the surface. However, the turquoise mined at Blue Gem is found deep within the earth. Some has been mined as deep as eight hundred feet below the surface.
The Blue Gem mine is located in the U.S. state of Nevada, and the stones it produces are highly sought-after. They are coveted by collectors for their translucent, reflective look due to the inclusion of pyrite.
These stones are no longer being actively mined, which means that jewelry made from Blue Gem turquoise is rare and very valuable.
The Royston mine produces some of the finest and most unusual stones. One of these is the boulder turquoise.
These stones are characterized by their rust-colored host rock and a thin vein of dazzling turquoise. They have a striking appearance due to their earthy tones of rust, brown, and beige combined with light green and sky-blue veins.
There is no uniform look when it comes to Boulder stones, and each stone is completely unique.
As with other precious and semi-precious stones, the grade of turquoise is indicative of its quality. The highest quality stones have a grade of AAAA, AAA, or AA. These are typically found in very specific locations and are hard to find. They include:
- Stones with unusual or bold colors
- Stones with webbing (or a matrix pattern)
- Stones that can take a high polish
The standard jewelry grade of turquoise is around A, B, C, or AA-. Stones with a grade lower than that would require treatment to be used in jewelry, which lowers the price of the stone.
Compared to diamonds or sapphires, these stones are relatively soft. On the Moh’s Scale of Hardness, Diamonds rank a ten and Talc ranks a one. Turquoise typically ranks somewhere in between these at a five or six.
The harder stones are considered of higher quality, and the softer stones often need to be treated or stabilized to make them more durable and less prone to wear and tear.
If you plan on wearing your turquoise earrings often, you may find that the treated stones are the better option as they are often stronger than the high-grade, untreated stones.
Most of the turquoise earrings and jewelry found at jewelers contain stones that have undergone some sort of treatment.
Natural stones are typically marked as such, so be sure to ask your jeweler which treatments the stones you are interested in have undergone. If you are shopping online, be sure to read the description before adding your payment details and clicking purchase.
Some of the treatments that turquoise often undergoes are:
- Stabilization – During this treatment, turquoise is covered with resin or another substance to fill the pores in the stone. This hardens the stone and helps it to keep its vibrancy for longer. Natural stones tend to change color over the years and are more porous.
- Color Enhancement – This is a less common treatment. To enhance the colors of the turquoise, the stones are treated with chemicals. These usually cost less than untreated turquoise.
Turquoise Alternative: Dyed Howlite
An alternative to turquoise is dyed howlite. Howlite is a white stone with black veins, similar to the matrix pattern. These stones are often dyed blue to resemble authentic turquoise, which is a great alternative if you’re looking for something budget-friendly.
However, if you’re looking for authentic stones, you may be worried you will purchase dyed howlite by mistake. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to know whether the stone you’re interested in is real or not. These include:
- Price – Howlite tends to have a much lower price. If the stone you’re interested in seems too inexpensive to be authentic, it is probably howlite.
- Coloring – Dyed howlite tends to have a very even color, something that is rarely seen in authentic stones.
- Cut – If you are cutting down a large stone and it is white on the inside, it is dyed howlite and not authentic.
- Rub test – Rubbing a dyed howlite stone with acetone will make the blue dye come off. This will not happen with authentic stones.
Popular Turquoise Earring Styles
Turquoise Drop Earrings
Similar to dangle earrings, drop earrings hang below the earlobe. However, unlike their dangling counterpart, drop earrings tend to be stationary and do not move when you move your head. Drop earrings usually make use of a cabochon or inlay setting.
Drop earrings are a simple, elegant style that can be dressed up or down for a variety of occasions.
Perhaps the most classic option, stud earrings are excellent options for casual wear. They come in various shapes and sizes and are characterized by sitting against the ear lobe (as opposed to hanging from or below it). Stud earrings made from these stunning blue stones often make use of a bezel or prong setting.
Studs are a basic must-have for any jewelry collection. Check out these minimal turquoise stud earrings in 14K yellow gold from James Allen.
Turquoise Hoop Earrings
Much like studs, hoops are a basic necessity for any jewelry collection. These are normally made using an inlay setting, where thin slices of stone are set in precious metals and lay flat against the surface. This can be done in a mosaic or channel style setting.
Inlay hoops are one of the most traditional styles of turquoise earrings.
Caring for Turquoise Earrings
Turquoise tends to be less durable than other precious gemstones, which means that your earrings may require extra care to give them longevity. Here are some tips to care for your turquoise earrings:
- These stones are soft and porous, so it is best to protect them from extreme cold or extreme heat.
- Don’t wear your earrings if you know there is a risk of bumping or scratching.
- To clean your turquoise earrings, use some warm water and a soft cloth. Steer clear of commercial cleaners as these tend to be too harsh and will damage the surface of the stone.
- Don’t submerge your stones in water, as it can lead to damage.
- Store your turquoise jewelry separately, as harder gemstones like sapphires or diamonds may scratch their surface if they rub against it.
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