Turquoise: meaning and common uses

Turquoise

You would be hard-pressed to find a gemstone more steeped in history and lore than this natural stone. It has held the imagination of humankind for millennia; in part due to its kaleidoscopic appearance from sky blue to green, which gives it its signature beauty, but also because of its mystical properties.

This legendary gemstone has held Significance in civilizations across the globe; from the Egyptian Kings of the first dynasty-who commissioned its mining in Sinai- to the people of Tibet, Persia, and the Americans. Each of these communities held beliefs on the mystical properties of this stone and was in most cases used by royalty. You can find authentic handmade natural stone jewellery by clicking here.

The gemstones are opaque minerals that are a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium. Its extraction occurs in Iran, Afghanistan, China, and the United States. The name of these gemstones comes from the French word turquois, which means Turkish, as the minerals first, came to Europe through Turkey. The finest of this gem has a maximum Mohs hardness of 6, with a waxy lustre and takes a good polish despite its relatively low hardness. It also undergoes treatment to enhance its colour and durability.

Treated stone is also considered legitimate by craftsmen and dealers, so it is essential to make sure you are getting a natural stone and not a treated variation.

Typical uses of Turquoise

 

Adornment

Even among those with no cultural ties to this legendary gem, it’s still praised for its aesthetic value. Surprisingly, even without the brilliance and lustre of other natural stones like emeralds and sapphires, its variety of colours holds a deep fascination for many.

Those that are blue are especially popular with or without their regular fine matrix as they evoke the majesty of the sky and the ocean. In the past, it was valued as an ornamental gem, often regarded as a symbol of male power- so much so that some men didn’t consider their hands well adorned unless they wore a ring of these natural crystals. But it was not only used to decorate the physical person.

In Persia, it found use in decorating objects like turbans, bridles and prime buildings like mosques, both inside and out. Probably the best-known pieces inlaid with this stone were the pharaoh burial mask found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. This gem is more popular than ever today and is used in fashion rings, necklaces, brooches, bracelets and many more pieces of jewellery.

Protection

This gemstone has been revered in many cultures, both old and new as a talisman and amulet. It has for centuries been believed to possess the power to protect riders from injury due to falls, and other bad lucks or accidents.

It was worn in the ancient Persian Empire around the neck or wrist to protect one from an unnatural death. If it changed colour that would signal the wearer was approaching doom (though it was discovered that this gem does indeed change colour due to light or a chemical reaction).

The Navajo also used this stone as talismans for luck and protection against contagious diseases and is still held sacred by many Native American communities to this day. The Aztecs also inlaid this gem together with other natural stone jewellery into objects such as masks, knives and shields for amulet like use.

Physical healing properties

This gemstone has also had strong cultural connections with physical healing throughout the centuries. As a throat chakra stone, it is believed to help heal ailments in that area such as sore throats, respiratory issues, migraines and allergies.

It also works well as a strengthening stone. It is known for being an anti-inflammatory and detoxifier- working to purify the blood and eliminate toxins from the body. It has also been associated with healing many other ailments affecting the eyes, ears and neck.

Mental and emotional healing

In addition to healing physical ailments, this gemstone has been esteemed as a healing stone for emotional and mental well being. It provides solace for the spirit and helps our mood and emotions by inducing a sense of serenity.

As it is also a purification stone, it also works to dispel negative energy from the wearer’s environment. It acts as an excellent calming stone, helping you find peace in troubling situations which allows you to express yourself confidently in public.

It is indeed one of the stones used in litho therapy, which is an alternative system of medicine that uses the energy and colours of gems such as amazonite and others to harmonize the body. Litho therapy uses the energy of stones to keep the balance between the mind, body and spirit.

This practice has been used for healing in rituals and ceremonies since the Egyptians studied the placement of crystals on the body and the symbolism of the colours of different stones.

The use of semi-precious stones to cure diseases was also often advocated for in the Middle Ages by alchemists. This type of healing was developed into an official branch of homoeopathy in France in 1965.

Zodiac birthstone

In western culture, this gem is associated with those born in December and fall under the sign of Sagittarius. Sagittarians are usually optimistic people who love freedom and are spontaneous and fun. They have a quick moving pace and are very adventurous.

Since this gem is a stone that provides the wearer with calmness and serenity, it is an excellent choice for Sagittarians. It can help them with their communication and bring them peace in troubling situations.

Treatments

Though the original form of this gem is held in the highest regard especially by purists, this stone undergoes treatment using various methods to enhance both its colour and durability. Here are some of the treatment methods used on this gemstone.

Waxing and oiling

Light waxing and oiling were the first treatments applied to this gem in ancient times. Since its lustre is not particularly brilliant, these treatments provide a wetting effect to enhance the glow. Intrinsic pieces that have been oiled and waxed are prone to developing a white surface film when exposed to too much sun, and you should therefore not go sunbathing with it (though they can be restored with time).

Stabilization

This process (epoxy binding technique) first came about in the 1950s. Most of the gems from America go through this treatment process, though it is a costly and lengthy process. The material is treated with plastic or water glass to produce a wetting effect and improve durability. It’s estimated that about 85% of this gem mined today is in the form of whitish chalkstone. Stabilization helps to deepen the colour and make it hard enough to work with. The colour also stabilizes permanently, which may be a turnoff for you if you like the colour-changing properties of this stone.

Dyeing

The pores of the gem get injected with dye to improve the colour or to darken the matrix to create a higher contrast between the gem and the matrix. Dyeing is done during the stabilization process and can enhance the colour or completely change the appearance.

Reconstitution

Reconstitution is one of the most extreme methods of treating this gem. It comes to play when the fragments are too small to be used alone and are therefore powdered and bonded to form slabs which are then cut into jewellery. This type of jewellery is typically inexpensive and looks a lot like genuine gems.

Backing

Backing occurs when finer pieces of this gem, found in thin seams, are glued to the base of more durable material for reinforcement purposes. This process does not diminish the overall value of a high-quality gem and instead prevents the stone from cracking.

While skilfully treated jewellery can be a good option for those who can’t get natural stones or for those who prefer them, the buyer needs to know that they are getting a treated piece. With the real thing getting harder to spot, this can be a daunting task.

When shopping for the natural gem, you should make sure that you buy from a well-known, reputable dealer and get a written guarantee that it is indeed natural; you can also ask for a signed certificate of authenticity.

How to care and clean your gemstones

This stone can be rubbed clean with a jewellery polishing cloth. Treated stones should not be cleaned with heat or solvents as this can damage their surface; do not use ultrasonic cleaners either. It would be best if you also protect your gems from prolonged sun exposure as this can damage their surface. Store the stones separately from other pieces to prevent it from being scratched by harder pieces. You should also remove your jewellery before performing household tasks or applying cosmetics to avoid the chemicals discolouring it. If you care for your gems properly, you should wear them for a long time to come.