Why is Turquoise so Expensive these days?
Most people remember the popularity of Turquoise throughout the decades but in this latest resurgence of the stone’s popularity, why does turquoise seem more expensive than ever before? There are, of course, multiple influencing factors — but mostly, it’s due to the scarcity of turquoise from over mining.
Turquoise in American jewelry often came from mines in New Mexico, Kingman (Arizona), and Montana. Unfortunately, a lot of these mines don’t exist anymore and currently there is only one American mine still pumping out these little blue beauties.
Without a gemologist, it’s hard to attribute an origin point for any particular type of turquoise because it’s difficult to say what mine it came from. However, there are some design factors that help us place and estimate the era of a stone geographically and culturally.
In the 50s and 70s as the style of turquoise jewelry got more chunky, gawdy, and became a statement in itself. Thus, virtually all of the mines in the North & South Americas were mined out & emptied. That’s one of the reasons turquoise is so much more comparatively valuable than it was in the 80s or 90s.
In older pieces, especially Native American and indigenous Mexican jewelry, the addition of turquoise was like the cherry on top; more like a treatment rather than the focus of the piece. This is one of the major identifiable differences between old native pieces and those from a later era.
Persian turquoise is treated with an entirely different tradition. Although American turquoise is pricey due to it’s scarcity, Persian turquoise tends to gem quality, which means that it’s typically glassy with no striations. The rest of the world doesn’t want chunky stones. They want smooth and flawless despite the fact that turquoise is naturally chalky and has trouble retaining its color once exposed to the elements. It’s very soft, so because unlike sapphires which are very hard, turquoise stone breaks and crumbles into nothing very quickly if you don’t handle it delicately.
We honor the tradition of turquoise in jewelry, all over the world & hope that you can enjoy the breadth of our antique turquoise jewelry collection.