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The History of Turquoise Jewelry - Part 2

by Gary Glandon March 23, 2017

The History of Turquoise Jewelry - Part 2

Read Part 1 of The History of Turquoise Jewelry by Clicking Here

     While the Egyptians made great use of turquoise in their jewelry and valued it highly in their culture, they weren’t the only ancient people to utilize this beautiful stone. The next great area that incorporated turquoise into their jewelry was China, over 3000 years ago. In fact, it is still the national stone of Tibet and is widely used throughout all of China. The ancient Chinese acquired most of their turquoise through trade with other nearby Civilizations, such as the Persians. Historically, the Chinese used turquoise for carvings more so than in jewelry. However, American turquoise has become incredibly popular in China today. Because of low labor costs, Chinese Turquoise is now one of the most common turquoises on the market and, unfortunately, is often falsely advertised as American turquoise, which is much more in demand.

     Persia, which is modern day Iran, has been mining turquoise since antiquity. Two great mines produced much of the Persian turquoise, the Sarabit el-Khadim and Wadi Maghareh were the oldest of these mines and have been producing turquoise for over 2000 years. Some of this turquoise was used to cover the domes on palaces in Persia.

     Persian turquoise has long been regarded as some of the best turquoise found anywhere in the world. With its robin egg color, it has always been very desirable. Persian turquoise was even highly prized by the Native Americans who used a lot of it in their turquoise jewelry before it became so hard to find.

     The Persians even had a hand in the name “turquoise.” Great trade routes of this stone were developed from the Persian mines to northern European countries. These turquoise stones had to pass through Turkey and thus the Europeans came up with the French word “Turkish” which evolved into “turquoise” in the 13th century.

     Of course, we can't talk about the history of turquoise jewelry without mentioning the Native Americans. Turquoise mines in America have been around for centuries. In fact, archeologists have found turquoise as far back as 200 BC. 

     Native American turquoise jewelry began with hand-carved beads that were made into necklaces and even used in clothing. Although the Native Americans are well known for their use of turquoise, different tribes used the stone in different ways or not at all. It wasn't until after the Spanish came to America that the Native Americans began using turquoise and other stones in silver. The Spanish traded their silver and taught the Native Americans silversmithing. Even today, you can still see Spanish influence in much of the Native American jewelry, such as concho belts and squash blossom necklaces. The Native Americans come up with many new designs and styles, but they always seem to stay true to the history of their people and of turquoise.

Now you know a little about the expansive history of turquoise jewelry!

Take a look at some of our handcrafted turquoise jewelry here!

Turquoise Squash Blossom Necklace - Stagecoach

Gary Glandon
Gary Glandon


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