For over twenty five years I have discussed and written about my theory that turquoise trade in the
Western Hemisphere is regional. I have spoken at symposiums, written papers and books that have included different aspects of why turquoise trade is regional. Thankfully, over the last ten years I have found a little more reception to my studies from the academia world. Some archaeologists have even used parts of my theory to help develop their own studies. I still believe that the true history of trade in the Western Hemisphere needs to be restudied and rewritten in more aspects than just turquoise.
I have always appreciated all the different people who have helped me through the years. The study of
turquoise takes everyone! It is amazing how many people or institutions owned a mine site, an artifact, a story, specific information or even ideas about the past. Sometimes it is difficult to not offend someone or an institution when you use their information or their artifacts in conclusions that disagree with their conclusions in their own studies, their books or their turquoise related businesses. Anyone who knows me knows that I think turquoise is bigger than any one person’s knowledge and bigger than science. I have made my fair share of mistakes in my studies but continue to learn. Please enjoy this blog. This blog is so long that I included some pictures to keep you entertained.
The study of human behavior in social, cultural and linguistic situations is sometimes the most important
tool when studying past cultures, written documents and books about turquoise. In life, we as humans can arrive at different conclusions using the same information. We can ignore information that does not fit our agenda, beliefs, values or ideas. Many times we are predetermined to think about turquoise in certain ways. Where and who we get our turquoise information is important but not always correct or complete. Our initial influences are powerful factors in how we think. Some of us look at turquoise scientifically; others look at turquoise culturally, while others just like the color turquoise as an accent in jewelry. There are so many ways that we can all enjoy turquoise.
The following information shows how past information in interviews, books, artifacts and scientific information can all be used to create a bigger study about turquoise and turquoise trade in the Western Hemisphere. I will also show how exaggerated stories or misinformation is continually quoted by the scientists.
How is the Information Gathered?
To understand the information available for the research of turquoise we must understand that information and the collection of information involves people. We are all a little passionate and colorful when we share what we know or heard about turquoise. The following discussion is to show how I came to question some of the documents, books and past information about turquoise. I have been asking if the following general statements are true and researching what influence these statements, books and assumptions have had on today’s accepted history of turquoise trade in the Western Hemisphere.
Why was the Cerrillos mining area established as the only logical location for all turquoise artifacts discovered in the western hemisphere?
∙The Spanish conquerors located Santa Fe as a capitol.
∙Friar Marcos de Niza wrote about great turquoise ornamentation and value.
∙The Santa Fe Trail ends in Santa Fe.
∙The Hyde Expedition documented the Cerrillos area.
∙George Kunz understood and wrote about the value of the Cerrillos turquoise.
∙The United States became the center of university classes, influence and perspective from the white European perspective all over this hemisphere.
∙Joseph Pogue wrote his fabulous book Turquois, in 1915.
No other turquoise mine is written about with as much veracity and continual romance as the Cerrillos mining areas. As the world continues to discover more turquoise sources and artifacts around the western hemisphere; certain archaeologists and researchers continue to quote the cookie cut past written information with themselves having limited or no source turquoise knowledge? This adds to the confusion about turquoise.
Directions traveled, destinations written about, romance, final locations and people all influenced how the Cerrillos area turquoise mines became synonymous with turquoise trade in the Western Hemisphere. How would we determine if the information and conclusions are correct that we hear and read? How influential was the printing press, culture and tourism in the information that is accepted.
I have a Few More
Why did the Mesoamerican cultures travel thousands of miles to get turquoise at what is now Cerrillos?∙Traveling from Mexico City, Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico is 2,343km (1455.873 miles) using a direct modern road route.
∙Where did the Mesoamerican cultures get their jade, spiny oyster and mother of pearl. Spiny Oyster comes from the Gulf of California.
∙Did the Mesoamerican cultures already have the interest and ability to mine jade and other rocks?
∙How primitive were the people that crossed the Bering Land Bridge? Do humans forget information? If the Land Bridge is the source of migration 15,000 years ago. Why is there no Bronze Age until Nazca culture in the South? Why did the people in the Northern part of the Western Hemisphere not develop as other cultures around the world? Did their brains freeze from the cold crossing? Why did the cultures in what is now North America not develop metallurgy?
∙ Why is the Europeans value system of blue turquoise now accepted in Native America? Most ancient southwestern artifacts are green, green blue or blue green.
∙What is the original definition of the word chalchihuitl? Did the Nahuatl language differentiate between jade and turquoise/green or blue?
What if the Spanish or the easterners had come from a different direction? (North, West or South) (Anasazi Park, Utah; Stone Hammer mines, California; Paquime, Mexico; Swarts Ruin, New Mexico; Snaketown, Arizona,and many other locations.
∙Do we comprehend what we read? The Hyde expedition refers to a one-hundred year old pine trees and lichen covered rocks on the top of and/or in the bottom of the dumps of the Mount Chalchihuitl area. (1857 A.D. -100 years =1757 A.D.) Lichen grow 1 to 2 mm per year. Evidence of stone tools can be right next to metal tools when a stone wall collapses.
∙Do we believe in science? Turquoise is a water-based mineral. It does not do well with heat. Building a fire along a wall of turquoise and then throwing water on the heated wall does not encourage any of the turquoise to be usable when you are finished using this old wives’ tale.
∙Who were Friar Marcos de Niza, George Kunz, and James McNulty as personalities and what was their interest in turquoise?
∙How many papers have been presented about turquoise identification (fingerprinting) and trade that have proven to be false? Thankfully, this continual misinformation has thankfully helped build tourism in New Mexico.
What we do Know?
There is enough technology, modern knowledge and transportation to study turquoise.
The study of turquoise will take everyone working together.
There have been many mistakes made in developing information about turquoise. Every time I make a presentation or write, I learn, add information and correct other information.
The following discussion points will show some issues in turquoise writings, books and research that has influenced a few “conclusions” through the years.
Friar Marcos de Niza, George Kunz and James McNulty gave out a lot of information that I believe was not scientific or correct.
The Cerrillos area is most people’s starting point in the Western Hemisphere to write about turquoise.
Even The British Museum!
British Museum, 2006
Published a book by Colin McEwan and others concerning a new scientific study of their museum’s nine Mesoamerican artifacts.
Not one Mexican mine site was studied or mentioned. In the modern era (2006) How can any study be scientific; if the science they are using is wrong and multiple known mine sources in Mexico are not part of a study about Mexican sourced artifacts?
In Pogue’s book published in 1915: Within the Introduction it states, “No large deposits of turquoise have been found in Mexico or Central America that would supply the quantity needed for the many items that have been found, or which must still lie buried.”
There is plenty of turquoise mine sources in what is now the countries of Mexico and Chile.
Most people who write books or have information about turquoise only know a sliver of information. A miner knows their mine. A cutter knows the trade of lapidary and the sources they have cut. A retail store owner knows their merchandise. Everyone can read a book, but who did the author interview to get the information and pictures? How does the author or the future researchers know the information is correct?
Turquois, Joseph Pogue (1915) Tiffany Blue, Patricia MaGraw (2006) The Great American Turquoise Rush, Philip Chambless and Mike Ryan (2016)
George Kunz and James McNulty each continually stated that they get $200,000.00 per year of turquoise out of the Cerrillos area.
Two million dollars worth of turquoise was produced out of the Cerrillos area in one decade (1890-1900). It is stated over and over in books and has influenced how researchers use the Cerrillos area historically and currently. Turquoise trade, uses, productions, qualities and prices are all referenced using this type of information in books. But is all of the information true? What occurred at the same time that the turquoise production and value increased in 1891? Human nature is the clue for the answer. Sometimes people might have ulterior motives. Gasp.
Turquois, Pogue (1915) page, 135 “From this point of view the output of the Cerrillos deposits alone from 1890 to 1900, the period of greatest productiveness, is estimated at $2,000,000.00;” This time, this specific quote is from George Kunz.
Where is the evidence? Riches? Houses? Secured barriers to the mines?
In 1900 $2,000,000.00 is equivalent to $61,240,000.00 in 2020.
In 1900 the price of gold was $20.67 an ounce.
Kunz is saying that 1 carat of turquoise is essentially worth half of an ounce of gold.
There is 5 carats in 1 gram/There are 28.35 grams in 1 ounce
If 1 carat of turquoise cost $10.00, how much is that per ounce?
I ounce of turquoise would equal 141.75 carats
141.75 carats of turquoise sold at $10.00 per carat equals $1,417.75
With inflation in 2018 that is $43,179.65. 1 ounce of gold was 20.67.
Where are the riches, houses, and secured barriers for gold mines and those connected to the gold industry? Where is the evidence for this type of production and value in the turquoise industry? Zero
The Great American Turquoise Rush 1890-1910, Philip Chambless and Mike Ryan (2016) page 43
“During the 1880s, all mining activity in the Cerrillos District was directed toward finding gold and silver. If turquoise was found, it was ignored because the price for the mineral was so low it did pay to bring it to market.”
What changed in 1891? Page 42
“In 1880, New York stock promoters hired a Yale University geology professor named Benjamin Silliman to prepare reports on Mount Chalchihuitl and other New Mexico mining properties. He was considered a mining authority and charged top dollar for his services. In exchange, he had a tendency to exaggerate the facts in the interest of his employers. Silliman’s articles were used to advance the fame and stimulate stock sales in the East.”
Who was pushing the agenda that Cerrillos had great turquoise and a lot of it?
Friar Marcos de Niza, George Kunz, Benjamin Silliman, and James McNulty are who the writers, newspapers journalists and investors were listening too. Many of the Santa Fe archaeologists are still listening to them.
Tiffany Blue, (2006) page 139
Sometimes when we exaggerate we can get ourselves in trouble. Especially if a lawyer asks us about our exaggerations in a court of law.
Lawyer Clancy- “at the time Sena and Purdy were down there, at the time you spoke of–didn’t you tell Mr. Purdy that you were getting two hundred thousand dollars out of the mine?”
McNulty-”I did, and I have told others besides, anybody who will ask me—How much did you get out of here, I says, I will not put it under two hundred thousand dollars.”
Lawyer Clancy-”Don’t you think now that since the time you there to work that you have taken out and shipped away about five hundred thousand dollars’ worth of stones?”
McNulty-”That I do not say. I do not know anything about it. I am under oath now.”
Is there any turquoise evidence that what they said or the Cerrillos Agenda Apologists are saying today?
I think some of what is said is true but the overall story of trade and production and value is not. A miner friend of mine uses two words to describe the Cerrillos area’s written history and production, “boondoggle and incredible”.
Tiffany Blue, page 32
The information that can correct a lot of the Cerrillos exaggerations is right there in existing books.
May 25, 1899-”I cannot find any better specimens than last shipment to stop work. The box contained plenty of good color. But there was not a single piece that we could make any use of.” Tiffany’s was not making “Indian” jewelry. Tiffany only needed stones the size of 1 or 2 carats.
Page 15-”By 1895, Doty pressured McNulty for more stone and better results.”
Page 68-”McNulty regularly received letters telling him the turquoise he sent wasn’t worth much.”
Page 75-”They average a cigar box of turquoise per week”
Page 15-”Each box contained about five pounds of stone.”
Page 52-”a cigar box being worth, as we were told, as much as” $10,000.00”
Page 100, August 13, 1901-”we are in no better condition than we were three years ago.
According to my research, the Cerrillos area mines were more about investor’s money than the production of turquoise. Maybe I am looking at the wrong information and need some help to see more information.
Turquoise, Gem of the Centuries, Oscar Branson, (1976)
Page 43 and 51
This book has so much to do with winners writing history and creating influences for the ages. It was the first book to showcase “American” turquoise in color photography. The nightmare occurred when the author and others had to deal with reality. America’s most famous Cerrillos turquoise area did not have the production or the quality that had been written and marketed for so long. Whereas other cultures and turquoise histories were defined by a grade of turquoise, the American market defined the specific mining area by a name first and not by a conformed grading system. How does America’s most famous mine stack up to the standard of the Persian blue turquoise and the history and influence that Tiffany’s starting promoting so many years ago in the Eastern United States.
The world expects gemstones to have conformity and they generally see quality turquoise as only blue with clarity and no matrix.
Not every mine produces turquoise of the same quality of the Persian turquoise. This Cerrillos picture shows how the problem of average turquoise was solved: They just added Persian and Tyrone turquoise to the picture. Who was going to know the difference? Now! According to this picture; the Cerrillos turquoise from New Mexico is just a good as Persian turquoise from Iran! Now that is marketing!
Why did Oscar Branson choose the nice oval turquoise with clarity to be the “classic” from Cerrillos?
They were trying to compete with the famous Persian blue.
Why did they put Persian turquoise in the picture as Cerrillos turquoise?
Why did they put Tyrone turquoise in the picture for Cerrillos turquoise?
At least it was from New Mexico.
Why did they use such low grade Tyrone turquoise for the Tyrone picture?
They couldn’t afford for the Cerrillos area mines to not have the best turquoise in New Mexico.
I went to Cerrillos Day a few years ago at Turquoise Hill. The Santa Fe archaeologists group had a huge banner up about their turquoise event. They used a picture of a specific Mesoamerican mask as the center piece. At that time the archaeologists did not know that only the bottom eyelids are inset with turquoise. When I informed one of the archaeologists about the eyelids his response was….Please do tell anyone.
To the New Mexico Archaeologists in Santa Fe and Their Colleagues
Over time, some New Mexico archaeologists began agreeing with me that Cerrillos is not the only source of turquoise for artifacts from places such as Chaco Canyon, other sites and what is now Mexico. At one of their last presentations that I attended I was astonished at their lack of science, credits and conclusion. They analyzed a grouping of turquoise samples from a archaeological dig site. Their conclusion was that a few pieces of turquoise from the pile were from one mine source and a few more were from another mine and a few more were from another mine source and so on. They determined that the turquoise samples were from a variety of mines including Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Seriously! Did these ancients go selecting different kinds of turquoise while shopping at the turquoise isle at Walmart? I’ll take one of these, 3 of these and 9 of those. Urgh.
What if most of our interpretation of the history of turquoise is incomplete or wrong?
Cool. Our future generations will have something to do.
∙We are human and have made human errors. Such as trusting that everyone who has been interviewed or wrote something about turquoise new all the facts.
I know I don’t know all the facts. It will take everyone. Even some of us who have been wrong in the past.
∙We have limited science and have continued to jump to conclusions that are incorrect.
∙What can we do?
Let’s get the artifacts, data bases and science that we do have; correctly cataloged for future generations. If we have time and the correct science to finish the study….Cool.
Most past and current information about the Cerrillos mining area is more about repeating and marketing than research?
How did the Western Hemisphere start from the North and develop South?
People are people. We all have a part and we are all somewhat colorful.
Anthropology is more important than finger printing turquoise.
Historically the turquoise trade in the western hemisphere is regional.
Turquoise is greater than science.
There were other American turquoise mines that were supplying Tiffany’s.
Today’s Native American appreciation and marketing of bright blue turquoise is a twentieth century phenomena.
The American Southwest has some of the greatest people and resources to study the history of the western hemisphere. I believe that the Western Hemisphere history of trade has never been completely studied or written. I believe this is a positive statement. It is an energizing and fascinating statement. If it is true that the winner writes history? The current history was written and interpreted by Spanish and American European influenced people. If it is true, that science is impartial: Then everyone who reads this blog should be excited to look into new studies of the Western Hemisphere as it relates to turquoise and trade.
Make sure to tune in to the Talking Turquoise 1/24/2020 on the Turquoise Museum Facebook Page to participate in the discussion of this post on Turquoise Trade.
Is Turquoise Rare? The answer is yes. Turquoise is one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
Rare- (of an event, situation, or condition) not occurring very often. (of a thing) not found in large numbers and consequently of interest or value.
Unique-being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
Let’s compare the rarity of turquoise to diamonds Travel the world or attend the Hong Kong or Tucson gem shows.
Then ask yourself:
How many diamond stores in or nearby every mall in the world? Four or five?
How many diamond stores in every town in the world?
How many turquoise stores in every mall in the world? None
Supply and demand- Supply refers to the amount of goods that are available. Demand refers to how many people want those goods. The demand for diamonds is great and needs a gemstone that is not the rarest to supply such a massive market. How large of a supply of diamonds does it take to supply the mass amount of diamond stores in the world?
Turquoise supplies a much smaller market. By definition of rarity (not market size) turquoise is rarer than diamonds.
Diamonds deserve their place in the world of gemstones as a commerce gemstone. They are an easy gemstone and subject to learn about and grade. They are common enough that anyone can be taught to be an expert within a qualified class study.
Turquoise is a rare gemstone with many one of-a-kind formations that can take a lifetime to learn. The gemstone turquoise is not about conformity but about rarity and uniqueness. Photography is slowly changing the world’s collector’s appreciation for what is rare. Unique is defined as one-of-a-kind and there are many forms of turquoise that are unique.
But, they say a diamond has a hardness of 10 and turquoise is a soft gemstone. The discussion is what is rare not which gemstone is harder. A painting by Picasso or Monet is not a 10 on the hardness scale, but they are rare and will need to be properly cared for. The cool thing about a diamond is that you can wear it forever and not worry about a thing ever happening to it. If you lose it, you can even buy another one just like it.
The world is becoming aware that turquoise’s rarity is defined by the gemstone itself and not by a culture’s uses of turquoise in their arts or by comparing turquoise to other gemstones.
It is through the scientific study of the geology and mineralogy of turquoise that its true rarity and varieties are defined and appreciated. For generations, many in the gemstone community have diminished turquoise’s monetary value and gemstone standing by negatively comparing turquoise’s inconsistencies of its colors, the intrusions of other minerals, and its medium hardness to other gemstones such as a diamond. Turquoise is a rare and collectible gemstones specifically because of these so-called inconsistencies.
A specific geological area and its available mineralogy are what determine the size, density, harness, color, intrusions, and specific chemical formula of turquoise. As each of these diversities in color, clarity, matrix, and source have become scientifically identified and cataloged by picture, the rarest of these categories have become collectibles.
Natural turquoise is one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
In my opinion: If someone counted all the imitations that have been made of turquoise through the years, they would discover that all of the imitations of turquoise are actually rarer than all the natural diamonds.
Turquoise is one of the world’s most rare and colorful gemstones. For generations, many people in the gemstone world associations have continued to diminish turquoise’s monetary value and gemstone status by negatively comparing turquoise’s rare inconsistencies of colors, intrusions of other minerals, and its medium hardness to other gemstones such as a diamond. Turquoise is a rare and distinctive gemstone because of these so-called inconsistencies. The specific geological area and available mineralogy are what determine the unique size, density, hardness, color and intrusions of a turquoise. As each of these diversities in color, intrusions, and source are identified and cataloged by picture, the rarest of these categories have become the most collectible turquoise.
The concept of grading turquoise slowly developed with each culture and civilization that mined and used it in their art and beliefs. Regional and cultural traditions developed into larger trade routes for the gemstone. Trade, culture, fashion trends, supply and opinions have continued to influence various turquoise markets around the world. The interaction and opinions shared between suppliers and buyers of turquoise has made the study of this gem entertaining and sometimes a little frustrating as miners, salespeople, artists and collectors buy, sell and market what they consider the best turquoise.
Unlike other gemstones, turquoise does not have a single grading system. The most well-known tradition used to grade turquoise is the Persian Method, which defines the best grade as a stone with perfect clarity and the deepest blue color. The American Method, defines the best grade of turquoise as one from one of the most famous and rare mine sources, with the deepest blue color and spider web matrix. As the trade of turquoise has developed into a global market, these two methods along with other regional traditions of grading turquoise have competed for acceptance on the world stage. By combining the Persian and American methods, a turquoise collector can define and grade the rarity of most turquoise.
A written certification should be requested with all turquoise purchases. As turquoise has become more rare and expensive it is important to get certification of a turquoise stone’s specific rarity and value. Turquoise has four main categories of rarity, including the condition, mine source, color, matrix and/or clarity. A cabochon’s size, cutting style, weight, hardness and “picture rock” formations can also be used to determine a turquoise’s rarity and value.
The moment that we become fascinated with turquoise and we begin our incredible journey to learn more about the blue, green, white and even the red or purple phenomena; we realize turquoise is a BIG subject. A persons original contact with turquoise is generally their appreciation of it after it is set in jewelry or art. Or maybe they know a turquoise miner or have become interested in the mineralogy, archaeology or mystical qualities of the gem. After an initial introduction: How do we learn more about this colorful gem? People sources, such as miners, cutters, salespeople, jewelers, collectors, scientists and others are a great resource to learn different aspects. Museums, books, magazine articles and the internet are also good outlets to learn. Yet, there is so much information and opinion.
Me personally, I am fascinated by how much information about one gemstone can be so diverse.
It always seems easier for me to just let everyone say and believe what they want. I have many people come up to me and say “This is Lander Blue” or “This is Bisbee” or “I know that this is natural”. I always just agree with them. They do not ask for my opinion or want a conversation. These same people then go and tell everyone that “Joe Dan, said this is Lander Blue, Bisbee and/or natural”
Uh…No I didn’t.
So, how do we learn? My answer is from everybody and everything. Keep the good and lose the bad. Keep learning. Here are some sources of good information but I point out the bad information within.
Turquoise, Gem of the Centuries, by, Oscar Branson, 1976 (page 43 and page 51)
When this book was published, it was the first time that the American turquoise market was visually showcasing the individual American mines. As the American turquoise market was developing: Persian blue turquoise with clarity was the world’s standard to turquoise. Now, the Americans had there own book that pictured some of the variety of colors and matrix from each American mine.
The problem for the author, Oscar Branson and those who believed our American turquoise was as good if not better than any other turquoises in the world: was that the most famous turquoise mine site in America was the Cerrillos mining area near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Cerrillos mining area was famous but did not produce the quality of turquoise that was comparable to the standard of Persian turquoise. Unfortunately, America’s most famous mining area did not have turquoise that could compare to the best Persian turquoise.
Therefore, Mr. Branson used Persian and Tyrone turquoise stones in the picture that represented the Cerrillos turquoise. The Tyrone samples pictured on page 51 represent only low grade Tyrone turquoise. This picture has continued to misinform people throughout the world that the famous Cerrillos area produced turquoise just as good as the Persian turquoise for clarity and deep blue color with nice matrix.
Collectors, salespeople and others still incorrectly use these two pictures to identify turquoise sources and grades for Cerrillos and Tyrone.
Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico, by Colin McEwan…2006 (page 29)
The trustees to the British Museum promoted this book as new and scientific. It is new but it is not correct information about source, trade or science. The map on page 29 does not include any turquoise mine sites or samples that should have been studied from Mexico. This book completely ignores all the Mexican mine sites as possible sources in their incomplete study and conclusions. To ignore these numerous turquoise sites as possible sources of turquoise for their 9 artifacts is not a scientific study or proper research.
Turquoise Unearthed, by Joe Dan Lowry…2002 (page 43)
Publishers have great control over what they publish. When we wrote this book, the publisher had a great passion for turquoise and wanted to include these personal items and information. We told him that this was a copper and enamel reaction that made the color turquoise but did not become the mineral turquoise. When the book was published, we “noticed” he liked his idea better than ours. Oh well, what do you do?
Turquois, by Joseph Pogue 1915 (page 135)
The time and effort that Mr. Pogue put into this book is amazing. No internet and no computer typing or modern travel amenities. Amazing. This book’s diverse study of all things turquoise, is a great example why authors have to interview multiple people for the knowledge and information that is included in a single book. We all should realize that not everyone that an author or magazine writer interviews is totally honest or might even exaggerate the information that they share. Miners, cutters, salespeople and even archaeologists jobs or financial needs should be considered when interpreting information in books and research paper.
Researching turquoise information in books and articles involves discovering the sources of who and where the information was collected for the books and articles. Case in point, Mr. Pogue had to research information and/or interview someone so he could write about the production quantities and values of the Cerrillos mines. Mr. Pogue states that the gathered production quantities using the U.S. Geological Surveys that were compiled by people such as Mr. Kunz. Even though it is in the U.S. Geological Survey, the information was still collected by people. Why would they misrepresent the information. East Coast investors would spend money on new discoveries and endeavors in gold, silver, turquoise and other opportunities. Where and who did these investors use to get knowledge about new discoveries?
Mr. Kunz and the Cerrillos area miner Mr. McNulty were very colorful people who, I believe exaggerated their numbers. In my research, their numbers do not ad up. One of my many questions. If there were two million dollars of turquoise mined in a span of ten years (1890 to 1900): there is no evidence of it if you have ever traveled in the Cerrillos area, understand mining or read the book Tiffany Blue, by Patricia McGraw 2006. Research proves this kind evaluation and production of turquoise is not true. Two million dollars in the years of 1890-1900 is equivalent to over fifty-eight million dollars in 2017. Where is the physical evidence and personal wealth created with this kind of money.
Yet, there are still archaeologists, authors, writers and others who still quote this section of Mr, Pogue’s book as fact.
Turquoise, The World Story of a Fascinating Gemstone, by Joe Dan Lowry…2010 (page 81)
Readers are always willing to let authors and writers know about the mistakes or misinformation in a book or article. This is good and allows corrections to be made. Many books have spelling, grammar or caption information that can be wrong or missed in editing. A mistake can cause a headache for a reader who is trusting the written information for a research paper or purchase.
I wrote the wrong date (1450 when it should have been 1540) (my editor missed the correction) A reader of the book sent a note and we corrected the date in the new edition. (8 years later).
Albuquerque Tribune newspaper article about the Enchantment turquoise mine in New Mexico.
The writer interviewed me and printed that I said this mine would produce two tons of turquoise per year. My statement was that the state geologist said there was probably a total of two tons of turquoise in the area. Regardless of who made the mistake, wrong information was in print.
Cultures and Traditions
Cultures and traditions have been around for a very long time. I wonder how many traditions and stories about turquoise are true. Not that it matters. If someone believes something, who is going to correct them? Does it really matter if someone believes that turquoise will protect them from the evil eye or that Jupiter is solid turquoise? There are so many thoughtful and stupid beliefs about all turquoise subjects that are tied to traditions. I guess people believe a story that has been around for awhile…must be fact. The traditions of families and cultures are some of the best stories out there. Some are even true. I should know with the two names that produced me; Zachary and Lowry. Boy do we have some “traditions”!
I have had many interviews about turquoise that have been translated into many languages. It takes a great talent and ability to translate. But not all information can be translated clearly and sometimes the translator is not capable of the task. I only speak English but I have heard from others who speak multiple languages that not all translations about turquoise are good.
Laws are written to protect the public. Unfortunately, laws are written by people who interview people so that other people can write a law. Uh. Here we go again. People make mistakes and even laws can be written but not fully explained or understood. One of those laws is New Mexico’s law about what constitutes the condition of a gemstone. Another issue would be how industry leaders such as GIA or other educational based entities define a gemstone’s condition.
Ask a Miner, Cutter, Salesperson, Artist or collector…
What is the best turquoise in the world?
What is an imitation?
What turquoise is set in my piece of jewelry?
You may never get the same answer.
Whichever answer you like best might become the knowledge about that turquoise forever.
As you can see, there is a lot about turquoise that is used for visual identification or repeated information that is not true. As mistakes and misinformation is corrected, we all can learn more about the gemstone that we find fascinating. If you know about mistakes in photography, captions, information or opinion, please share. I collect this information.
Live video discussion 11/29/19: https://www.facebook.com/turquoisemuseum/videos/561598574675501
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 inthe 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