By Joe Dan Lowry | Copyright November 2019
11/29/2019 video discussion at end of post.
Turquoise is a massive subject that I believe is broader and more detailed than any one person’s knowledge. Yet, for various reasons, many people through the history of turquoise in the last fifty years claim to be a turquoise expert. I do not believe there is or has ever been a turquoise expert. However, there are hundreds of great people who are in the turquoise industry that have specific knowledge about history, mines, science, art and other valuable information.
A good analogy for me or anyone to remember is that most of our knowledge is specific to the puddle, pond, lake or ocean that we grew up in or that we do business in. Most of us are comfortable in our area of expertise. The turquoise world is much larger than our specific or general knowledge.
I believe that learning about turquoise takes many prisms of knowledge and involves all of us. By the time I think I know a lot about turquoise; there are new mines, new imitations and new people with new stories and information. Turquoise is and will always be bigger than any one person and that is part of turquoise’s allure. Meet someone, have a conversation about turquoise and learn something new every day. Hopefully after you read this blog, you will have a new respect and appreciation for the many aspects that each persons unique knowledge brings to the turquoise world.
Here is a brief analysis of categories of specific knowledge to learn to become the first turquoise expert in the history of mankind. We do not need all this knowledge to be in the turquoise business, but we would need all this knowledge to claim to be an expert. Consider the time, access and money that will need to be spent for someone to claim they are the expert. Most of us are a part of the knowledge of turquoise. Think globally as each of these categories are defined.
All indigenous cultures starting with the Egyptians. Were any of us there? There are some great researchers that study these subjects. Modern and current history of mines, productions, prices, color and matrix. I may know the current owner but do I know the past 7 owners. History is from beginning to current.
What is turquoise and how does it form. Not just at one turquoise mine but every mine location around the world. Participate in or complete scientific studies of all turquoise samples from each mine site in the world. Each color and each host rock must be sourced and tested. The Egyptian mine sites are at least 5,000 years old and host rock and colors can change at different areas and depths of any mining area. There are some great geologists and mineralogists who have studied turquoise.
Do you own a mine or two. Do you have enough money and time to visit every turquoise mine in the world. How would you gain access to sites owned by copper and gold companies? What miners will give you access? Do you speak the language? When you get access, do you purchase all the samples you will need for photography, testing and cutting? There have been and are some great miners out there who can tell you all about what makes their mine special.
Turquoise cutters around the world learn to “read” each turquoise source they shape and polish. One cutter could spend a lifetime cutting turquoise from one or two mines. Cutters are also the ones who know the “secrets” of cutting, such as oiling, filling holes, dyeing the matrix and doublets. Did you know that a large percentage of the Lander Blue turquoise stones were filled and the matrix was dyed black? A turquoise expert would learn every nuance of every turquoise.
An imitation is made to “imitate” an original. There are many kinds of imitations of turquoise in the world. An imitation can be made of a specific mine, such as Sleeping Beauty. An imitation can also be as simple as selling a turquoise mined from Mexico as if it is from the Sleeping Beauty mine in Arizona. Turquoise from China has be sold as an imitation of the Lander Blue and Lone Mountain mines from Nevada and the Kingman and Morenci mines in Arizona. An imitation is so much more than a cheap piece of plastic. To be an expert in turquoise, you would need to know all the past, current and future imitations.
Writers and Authors
How much personal knowledge about turquoise does the writer or author have when they write about the subject turquoise. Most writers and authors interview various people in the turquoise industry to write an article or author a book. How do the writers and authors know that their information is correct. In one of my future blogs, I will share the wrong information in books, magazines, research and opinions. Of course, I will start with my own books and articles. It is actually fascinating how misinformation gets passed along.
Incredible cultures, art and uses of turquoise for over 5,000 years. How much of the above turquoise subjects does an artist learn or is turquoise generally an end use gem?
Old Knowledge/New Knowledge—Older Person/ Younger Person
We need everyone! I am pretty sure that the older person in turquoise is not up to date on everything new. New people, new mines, new imitations. Eventually, we get older, a little less “eye quality” and memory can also become issues. And how much time does the young person have to go to mines that are closed or cut turquoise that is no longer available or meet the old guys who have passed on.
Galleries, Salespeople, Collectors
Just because someone has been in business forever does not mean they know everything about turquoise. There are some great galleries, salespeople and collectors that have some great information about the items that they sell or collect.
If you are a turquoise expert, please do not be offended by this blog. Inform and help me and others. It amazes me how many people love turquoise in all its beauty. The mystical qualities of turquoise is a world wide phenom. Just the color of turquoise or its multiple uses could take a lifetime to learn. My suggestion has always been: Enjoy turquoise for the best reason….yours.
There is only one thing more colorful than turquoise itself
And that is
The color of the character who mines, sells and collects it