Turquoise is one of the oldest gemstones to be used in jewelry. If you ever get the chance to visit the famous Egyptian Museum in Cairo you will see turquoise and gold bracelets that were handmade around 5500 BC, over 7500 years ago. Turquoise jewelry has probably had one of the longest runs of popularity of any style in history.
The Pharaoh Sneferu, the father of the great pyramid building dynasty, organized many of these expeditions to the Sinai Peninsula and adorned his wife with beautiful inlaid turquoise jewelry. On a piece of papyrus that was found in a tomb, Sneferu relates a wonderful personal anecdote about some young women that were rowing Sneferu in a boat on a lake. One of the young ladies accidently drops her turquoise fish amulet in the lake while rowing and becomes very upset about her loss. Sneferu, unable to comfort the girl, commandeers a magician, who parts the waters of the lake (centuries before Moses) so Sneferu can retrieve the turquoise amulet for the young lady. This tale clearly illustrates how important turquoise was for the Egyptians.
The Egyptians' love for turquoise was evident in the great lengths they went to obtain the stone. Egypt didn’t have turquoise mines so they would travel to the Sinai Peninsula, expeditions that came with great logistical hurdles. The Egyptians would send a massive army across the Gulf of Suez in boats that were only designed for travel down the Nile river. Sailing down the Nile was much different than sailing across a body of water 20 miles wide. After the extensive journey to the Sinai Peninsula, the Egyptians were forced to work in summer temperatures that approached 100 degrees. Extracting the turquoise required workers to climb up the side of a mountain to reach the turquoise mines. Little did they know that they were mining a stone that would be sought after thousands of year later. To this day, turquoise can still be found in those original Egyptian mines, if you're willing to work for it.
Read Part 2 of The History of Turquoise Jewelry by Clicking Here