Friday, April 2, 2010

Turquoise? Really???

There's a forum thread on Etsy about misnamed stones that has been going on for weeks. People there cite interesting examples of creative naming of stones to make them more desirable. Many are man made, others are unnatural looking treated genuine stones. At gem shows I often run into dealers selling "strawberry" quartz or "pineapple" quartz. These fruity gems are usually manufactured stones.

As far as turquoise goes, if it's not blue or blue/green you can't call it turquoise.
So when a dealer at a recent show told me the beads in this picture were "turquoise", I almost choked. Manufacturers have gotten very creative with the use of poor grade or reconstituted powdered turquoise. Howlite, a soft white stone, has also been dyed and used as a substitute for turquoise. So we now find people selling "pink" turquoise, white or buffalo turquoise, lime green turquoise, purple turquoise, etc. I had never seen this particular species and it came in 3 or 4 color combinations.

I did buy some very nice drilled turquoise focal beads at this show. The real deal from a mine in the southwest U.S. I also bought some "stabilized" turquoise beads. How do you know when you have the real deal? Price is a pretty good indicator. A $3 strand of beads is probably reconstituted or dyed something.
As for the beads above... Well, they're going to look very nice combined with some "strawberry" quartz for a piece in my more economical line of jewelry. But what do I call them in my online description?

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