Turquoise is one of the birthstones for December, the other being the more costly Tanzanite.
One the earliest known stones to be used in jewellery, Turquoise has been found in tombs of Pharaohs dated to 5500BC and in a huge variety of items from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iran) including daggers, bowls and decorative ornaments. It also has a strong association with the south west states of America.
Native American culture calls the stone as Chal-cui-hui-tal, meaning the ‘highest and most valued thing in the world’. I first remember coming across Turquoise at school when studying the Aztecs. They were famous for using the stone, particularly to decorate mosaic masks. They considered the stone sacred and the finest examples were referred to as teoxihuitl; ‘the property, the lot, of the god’.
The name Turquoise derives from is arrival in Europe from Turkey during the crusades, giving it the name ‘Turkish Stone’.
Turquoise is a relatively soft stone, and can vary in colour from bright blue green. Turquoise with more blue contains more copper and green Turquoise more iron.