Monday, February 08, 2010

Answers: Spot the Turquoise

Last week, I posted some pics from Marg's private collection of Turquoise samples, and asked you to spot the fakes. Well- I was being tricksy - because only the last item was actually not turquoise. These beads are synthetic.

Everything else was actually genuine turquoise - what was really different is that some of them are stabilized, and some are natural - completely untreated.

Turquoise, in it's natural state, is mostly pretty soft and crumbly, from a cutting and polishing point of view. Not soft from a being-hit-over-the-head point of view, but in terms of cutting out a cabochon, putting a nice shine on it, and not having it break at the last moment and waste all your work viewpoint.

Sure - there is some good hard stuff, but mostly it was mined out years ago. What's left is really freakin' expensive.

So let's look at this pic. On the left in my hand is a chunk of stabilzed chinese turquoise. On the right is a chunk of natural, untreated turquoise from Nacosarri, Mexico. The piece on the right, despite being half the size, cost more than 3 times as much.

Let's look at another sample. These are two pieces from the same mine - the Tunnel Mine in Mexico. The natural piece is the lighter one at the top of the picture, the bottom one is stabilized. In this case, the more expensive one is actually the treated one, being about 30% more - which really makes sense - it's had work done - so to speak.

These pieces are thin, btw. Like a home cut potato chip. You'd be hard pressed to do much with them.

Which brings us to the topic of location. Next week - a map!

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