One of the world's oldest and most famous gems is turquoise. Archaeologists have confirmed that the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt have worn a lot of jewelry with turquoise, and that Chinese artist used these stones for carving arts as back as 3,000 years ago. Today, this is the national gem of Tibet, and there is a belief that this stone brings health, fortune and protection from evil forces.
The name is derived back in the 13th century from french word „pierre tourques“, translated „Turkish stone“. This is an indicator that the material probably appeared in Europe at this time, from Turkish traders.
The stone is often called gemstone of life, and throughout history, it has been used as a holy stone, captivating power, health, and fortune. In ancient cultures, it was given to riders as a talisman, to protect them and their horses from accidental falls.
This gem is found in many cultures- Ancient Egypt, Persian Empire, Ancient China and up to Native Americans. It can be found in some important relics such as King Tutankhamun's golden mask or sword of Goujian. Grave furnishing with turquoise was discovered in Ancient Egypt, dating around 3,000 B.C. Even older relic (dating 3,700 years B.C.) was found in China, in a form of dragon made of 2,000 pieces of turquoise. Turquoise became popular with the decline of church’s influence, allowing the use of gem in various purposes. In Persia, the gem was worn around the neck or wrist, with the purpose of protection against death. Stone was also used for interior and exterior decoration of important objects. During centuries, Persian turquoise is believed to be the most valuable. Native American tribes, including Navajo, Apache and Zuni, used this stone extensively in jewelry. Once again, it is used for it alleged healing properties and protection. Warriors placed gems at the end of arrows, in order to assure accurate shots.
Turquoise is formed when water passes through stones containing copper and aluminum. Various and complex conditions are needed in order to make possible a chemical reaction where deposits of turquoise are formed. The blue color is stronger when there is copper. Likewise, aluminum presence makes shades of turquoise more greenish. If mineral zinc is present, the gem attains yellow-green color, as it is seen rarely and only in few areas. In some cases, there are dark marks, in forms of drops or veins. This is usually associated with the presence of various iron stones. Today's term „Persian turquoise“ is used for stones without these dark traces.
Turquoise jewelry usually has hardness 5-6 on the Mohs scale. The hardest gems are the ones found on surface sources, having the chance to dry. Softer gems resemble chalk. Natural gems are cut and polished, but no changes are made.
It can change color as it absorbs body oil and moisture. Jewelry can easily be scratched, so handle it gently. It should be kept away from harder stones, or another object. Oils, perfumes or commercial cleaners can damage even modified turquoise. Warm water with mild soap is powerful enough for cleaning.
Turquoise is considered to be a birthstone for December, besides zircon and it is stone recommended for Aquarius, Taurus and Sagittarius.