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Turquoise can be described as an opaque, blue to green mineral which is a hydrous phosphate of aluminum and copper. Owing to its scarcity and unique hue, the mineral has been prized as an ornamental stone for thousands of years dating back to the First Dynasty probably 3000 years ago. The word turquoise was coined in the 16th century from an old French deviation of the word Turkish since it was first introduced in Europe from Turkey. Currently, the gem has depreciated from its original value after the introduction of imitations and synthetics into the modern gem market.
Turquoise has an average hardness of 6 which is slightly above that of window glass. This property makes even the smallest particles of the mineral fragile when exposed to force. Other properties like color and lustre depend on the minerals grain size. With regards to luster, large grains of turquoise are waxy, transparency is normally opaque but might vary to semi-translucent in small grains. Just like luster, the gemstone has different variations of color. These are white, powder blue, sky blue, blue-green and yellowish green. Research has proven that copper is the causative of the blue color while the green color occurs as a result of iron impurities or dehydration. Although the gem is highly fragile, it has a nice polish and hue which appeals to most people.
Iran which was previously known as Persia plays home to one of the biggest turquoise mines. The mine is specifically found at the peak of the Al-mersai Mountain in Nishapur. Another important source of the mineral is Sinai in Egypt. Materials from Iran and Sinai have significant differences in that turquoise mined from Sinai is greener and more translucent compared to the material mined in Iran. In the United States, mines can be found at California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. However, most of the mines are nearly exhausted; only the mine at Apache Canyon, California is currently operating at commercial levels.
Turquoise has been used for many applications. One of the earliest is the adornment of leaders in Egypt, Persia, the Indus Valley, and Mesopotamia. In most civilizations, it was thought that Turquoise held special properties which made it change color depending on the wearer’s health. It was also believed that the gem protected the wearer from untoward forces. Later on, the gem was used to decorate special buildings like Persian palaces and Mosques. It was also used to make jewelry and bridles for members of loyal families. In modern times, turquoise is used to make jewelry, trophies and decorate buildings which still maintain ancient architecture.
The price of a turquoise gemstone depends on where you purchase it. However, it is currently selling at an average $ 80 per carat in the US market. If you are after items which have been decorated using the gemstone, the price of such an article will largely depend on the carats of turquoise used on it. You can purchase it from auctions, fixed price gem stores or specializing internet shops.