[Source] 'Persian' turquiose beads

A potential client is looking for a strand of ‘Persian’ turquoise
beads. must be all 12, 13, or 14mm and close to flawless. MUST be

My usual source doesn’t have this. Any Orchid folks dealing in fine

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718

Most of the time when people see this type of material they are
loooking at Sleeping Beauty. Unless they really know thier stuff ,
and few do when it comes to turquoise, they just want the clean blue
look rather than the actual Persian. New , clean Persian beads would
be very expensive and rare. I would LOVE to find out if you come
across any so please let me know.

R.H.& Co has the best Sleeping Beauty material and even it though
“enhanced” commands big retail prices. I just bought a strand of
graduated beads, clean and dark blue, to retail at $2,400 and that
was a DEAL for them. The strand starts at 9mm and graduates to a
central 14mm bead. I will knot this and clasp it with 18K for more
money. Even R.H.'s cabs go for $2 a carat in the smaller sizes but, I
have tried other suppliers material and though it looks the same when
worked with is clearly inferior.

Sam Patania, Tucson


Good luck finding true Persian turquoise in any shape or form or of
any size. That stuff is like finding hens teeth! The last piece I
saw of the genuine stuff was one I acquired for my wife over 30 years
ago. It cut two beautiful stones (for a ring and and pendant). That
was the last time I saw the real thing.

Cheers from Don in SOFL.


A few months ago, I visited a very high-end jewelry store (with a
doorman, no less) in downtown Walnut Creek, CA. They had beautiful
turquoise jewelry, with very clear stones, and I asked the quite
elegant salesman if it was Sleeping Beauty. He said, “I’ve never
heard of Sleeping Beauty–it’s Persian.” I asked if he had any idea
how the supplier had obtained this turquoise and his answer,
basically, was “I really can’t share that modom.”

Now, I’ve noticed that someone from Tiffany’s has been posting to
Orchid. Tiffany’s has a fairly new store right down the street from
the above-mentioned business. Might Tiffany’s like to comment on this
issue? Is it possible for very high-end companies to obtain Persian
turquoise? How? If it isn’t, I would imagine that the store manager
might be “interested” in hearing from Tiffany’s about this fraud. All
they’d have to do is send one of their elegant salespeople down the
block to ask the same question I did…

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Elk, CA

Good luck finding true Persian turquoise in any shape or form or
of any size. That stuff is like finding hens teeth! 

I believe that the scarcity of finding Persian Turquoise in the USA
is due to the US Government’s ban on doing business with Iran.

It is apparently prohibited to import products from Iran directly to
the USA.

We have Persian Turquoise in Brasil imported before the ban by the
USA. We have mostly sold it to the Persians in Brasil and the USA
interested in replacement stones for their Persian made jewelery.

  • and we also have an Iranian friend who goes back and forth to Iran
    from Brasil bringing Lapis and Turquoise to Brasil and Brazilian
    colored stones to Iran and could probably bring back the beads in
    which you are interested or rough from which to cut them.

Best regards,
Robert Lowe
Lowe Associates - Brasil
Gemstones, Rough, Specimens
Tucson - Feb 1-6, 2006, GJX Booth # 205
e-mail: robertplowejr@juno.com (in USA til April 1st)
e-mail: @Robert_P_Lowe_Jr1 (in Brasil after April 1st)

Today the term “Persian turquoise” is interpreted more as a
description of color quality rather than an indication of source,
but I understand there is still some mining done at Nishapur Deposit
in Iran as well as Afghanistan and other locallities in the Middle

Also, the beads could have been from an estate.

Sounds like the sales associate was a bit of a pompous and arrogant
jerk, but that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong.

He said, "I've never heard of Sleeping Beauty--it's Persian." I
asked if he had any idea how the supplier had obtained this
turquoise and his answer, basically, was "I really can't share that


that sounds like pretentiousness trying to cover up for ignorance,
not intentional fraud.

Even in the part of California within shouting distance of GIA;'s
original offices, or their new ones, it’s very easy to find jewelry
store sales people with absolutely no formal or even informal
training of any sort, who’s slim knowledge of gemology comes entirely
from what they’ve heard or been told, often from/by other equally
uniformed people just in their own store, or perhaps by the folks
from whom they bought the merchandise (who, of course, are also often
just salespeople without all that much training either). pretty
sad, but still common enough.

And the thing is, often such people are convinced that their
misis somehow more reliable than that heard from those
school indoctrinated self important folks who call themselves
gemologists, who’ve clearly, in their view, not got enough actual
experience in the field to justify telling THEM anything… Just
wait till those silly beginners, with just a bit of book learnin in
them, have been around the business a while and then, perhaps
they’ll know the real story…

Don’t laugh. i’ve actually heard pretty much this exact tale not so
long ago from one such sales person, who thought I was just an
ordinary customer. Didn’t know I was goldsmith and a G.G…

Apparently the sales person was unaware that the term “persian” is
more often used to describe a quality of turqoise, than an actual
source location. Were it actually “persian”, that would mean from
Persia, which of course we now know as the country of Iran. When was
the last time you heard of turqoise that had any time recently been
obtained from Iran? There are significant quantities of the finest
U.S. sourced turqoise that would easily qualify for the “persion”
quality descriptor, which indicates a very fine quality characterized
by a depth/intensity of color, freedom from matrix, and a high degree
of density/solidity, (as opposed to the more porous samples so often
seen). The finest Sleeping Beauty mined material might easily be
“Persian” quality…

Peter Rowe

I have a source for iranian turquoise beads of various sizes. The
man is Iranian and has the following contact numbers and e-addresses;


Germany: Ch. Meister
39028 Schlanders- Tirol (Sud)
Hauptstabe, 15

Iran: Iran Turkis
IR-91767 Mashhad
Khosravino Avenue

I have phone numbers if you need them. Just let me know. I only met
them once at a jewelry show here in Kuala lumpur and bought a string
of lovely beads. All hand made and hand drilled and beautiful color.
I can’t vouch for anything other than that but I hope they come here
this year as I would love to buy more.

Good luck,
Sharron in hot, hot., hot Kuala Lumpur

I had heard several years ago that Sleeping Beauty was taken to Iran
(Persia) to be cut in the Persian style. The Persians do have a
distinct way of cabbing which is to have a realtively large under
cut under the largest diameter of the cab. I would call it a girdle
on a facet and don’t know what term to give it for a cab and the
under cut makes a pavillian of sorts, again excepting it is a cab .
In discussing this type of cut with the same man who told me about
Sleeping Beauty going to Persia he informed me that this is done to
increase the carat weight per stone. I can see no benefit to this
type of cut in closed back bezel setting which is typical of US work.
Why would Sleeping Beauty be sent to Persia to be cut and in what
time frame would this have occured? I would guess because of the
availability of skilled cutters and the lack of available clear
Persian turquoise to cut. Price increase due to being able to call it
Persian instead of Sleeping Beauty would pay for the trip. Persian
getting $4 to $8 a carat for clear material ( wholesale) , and
Sleeping Beauty $2 per carat. Time frame I would guess, and I should
call the Sleeping Beauty mine to ask, 1970’s? I will ask Robin
Hacobian, the R.H. of R.H. and Company about this. He brought many
thousand carats of matrix turquoise from Iran when he first came to
the US because it could not be sold in Iran. Matrix stone being
looked down on there. My father bought it in the early 60’s and
according to my father , Robin returned to try and buy the lot back
still have some of the original papers with Persian writting on them
which Robin was fascinated to see a few years ago. Oddly enough, I as
a high school student in the late '70’s just prior to the deposing of
the Shah , lived in Tehran for a year. I will write back about what
Robin has to say.

Sam Patania, Tucson

   Sounds like the sales associate was a bit of a pompous and
arrogant jerk, but that doesn't necessarily make him wrong. 

Barbra, the sales person stated that the turquoise was Sleeping
Beauty material, which comes from Arizona. So he was an arrogant
and pompous jerk, but in addition, he was at least partially wrong
IMO. The term “Persian” is now being applied by some to any sky-blue
turquoise, but it allows for major misunderstanding as it is also a
designation of provenance. In addition, it carries no useful
which would not more clearly and simply be conveyed by
calling the turquoise “sky-blue.”

Of course, terminology which misleads or confuses the consumer is
much loved by those who seek to misrepresent the value of their
wares. So now we have yellow turquoise and “white buffalo”
turquoise, and Persian turquoise from Arizona.

The final irony is that a large proportion of commercially available
turquoise is now dyed, so I guess any chalk turquoise can be
“Persian” under these rules, as long as it is dyed the proper shade
of blue, so a term of provenance which once was synonymous with the
highest quality turquoise may end up being synonymous with cheap
stabilized chalk.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry

When was the last time you heard of turqoise that had any time
recently been obtained from Iran?

Dear Peter, I have purchased in the last 2 years actual Persian
turqouise which ahd been cut and brought through Turkey. THis
material has been coming in some quantity since then. It has green
staining, not clear blue and white matrix. I bought it rough and cut
it myself and LOVE it. A Long with the “Baby Blue” Chinese it is the
most exciting thing to come around in a while. I have seen it at the
Vegas show and in Tucson. In Vegas it was being imported by a
company from Hawaii, can’t remember the name. They were in the AGTA
pavillion. THey were having beads cut as well as cabs.

Sam PAtania, Tucson

Lee, if you re-read the original question on the “Persian” turquoise
I think you will see that it was the customer (who wrote the
original letter of complaint) that mentioned Sleeping Beauty, not
the sales associate. He claimed it Persian from the beginning.

So my original comment stands. “Being a pompous jerk doesn’t
necessarily make him wrong.”

There are significant quantities of the finest U.S. sourced
turqoise that would easily qualify for the "persion" quality
descriptor, which indicates a very fine quality characterized by a
depth/intensity of color, freedom from matrix, and a high degree
of density/solidity, (as opposed to the more porous samples so
often seen). 

In Standard Catalog of Gem Values ( second edition pub, 1994 ) by
Anna Miller and John Sinkankas, Persian spider web and Persian matrix
are listed. " Gem grade Persian is listed at up to $ 150 ct. A grade
Persian Matrix is listed at only $ 100 ct." The matrix is considered
a lesser quality than spider web.

I have one piece of Persian spider web, from Iran, which is the
single finest piece of Turquoise I have ever seen. It was purchased
from a retired individual who worked in Iran some years before. It
is a white elephant, which is perhaps why it is yet unset. I like
spider web and matrix as well as multi colored turquoise.


It has green staining, not clear blue and white matrix. 

Green staining and white matrix, huh? That sure messes up the
classic definitions of so called “persion” turqoise, doesn’t it?

Sounds lovely. how’s the density/intensity of the stuff? That’s
the other thing that i always associated with the best “persian”


I kind of go crazy when the term Persian is used as an adjective
rather than the area of origination. It just muddles the already
muddy story of turquoise. But dealing in turquoise has for years
been made difficult by popular myths and anyone in the Native
American jewelry industry has been dealing with the term “treated”
in regards to turquoise for a long time. I guess it’s the marketing
versus reality break so often seen in any facet of this industry.
Like most turquoise mines the Persian mines produced a range of
colors, hues and hardnesses. Also the matrix stuff was never sold in
anything other than ethnic jewelry, certainly not the high fashion
stuff. But it does exist and is actually more plentifull than the
clear blues. Even in Sleeping Beauty this is true, matrix Sleeping
Beauty is more available than the clear , resulting in the high
prices even if it is “enhanced”. I always have trouble when defining
the term “best” when it comes to a turquoise, I seem to love it all.

I love the greens such as Blue Gem and Manassa or Fox. It is a blast
to cut, I love cutting turquoise, you never know what you will get
and it is quick. I am into immediate satisfaction, of course, and
consider turquoise cutting right along those lines.

Sam Patania, Tucson

I’m behind on reading my Orchids, so bear with me.

If looking for “Persian” Turquoise, you will have to keep a few
things in mind…

Like war and revolution.

My husband is Persian, and I have a great interest in ancient
jewelry, so I’ve picked up a bit of knowledge here.

The most ancient civilizations, like Persia and Egypt, essentially
mined out their supply of certain favorite gemstones hundreds if not
thousands of years ago. I have read translations of 13th century
recipes for making the pigments for Persian manuscript illumination
(which were largely mineral-based rather than plant-based), that
mention good lapis being at a price five times that of gold, when it
could be obtained at all. When their own was mined out, the Persians
and Egyptians turned to trade. The Egyptians traded first with the
Persians until they ran out themselves. The Persians for centuries
obtained their turquoise and lapis from Afghanistan, which as a more
mountainous and less economically developed country, had more places
left in which to find it. Even in medieval Persian documents
Afghanistan is named as the source of the turquoise of the finest

Back in the 70’s my brother backpacked through Afghanistan, and
bought a very small amount of turquoise of unbelievable beauty.
Truly a light, utterly smooth, robin’s egg blue. No veining
whatsoever. Then he had it set in gold in Iran. The goldsmith asked
him where he had gotten it, then smiled and told him he had bought
it at the best possible place (my brother had had a tip). He
couldn=92t afford more than the 3 pieces he bought (I didn=92t even ge=
one! Sigh=85)

A revolution in Iran, followed by 10 years of war with Iraq, put an
end to much trade in turquoise, lapis, or rugs, or what have you,
for quite a while. Then, remember! Afghanistan was invaded by the
Soviet Union! For the last 15 + years, much of the lapis and
turquoise from there had already been in the “pipeline” before the
invasion. It=92ll be a while before the Afghan mining industry
recovers. They’re thinking more along the lines of cash crops right
now. Odds are, any “Persian” turquoise you see for sale now,
originated in Afghanistan. It has also been on its way to you for a
very, very, very long time. Or in fact it may not come from the
Middle East at all; is just called “Persian” for the cachet.

When I have a chance to speak to any one in Persian trade, I always
ask about stones, rugs, and handicrafts. Anything that the
government considers even remotely valuable is strictly regulated.
The average person going into business there (where industry is
picking up nicely) finds these areas too much trouble and without
adequate return on investment. They are more interested in
telecommunications than in turquoise.

My husband had a chance to visit with a brother recently when both
were on business trips: his brother asked what he could bring me. I
asked for lapis or ethnic jewelry. Sadly, he could not find either,
nor could his extensive network of relations. They must be somewhere
to be found, but he had no connections in that industry. Nor could
he take a good rug or a manuscript painting out of the country, darn

But their cell phones are way ahead of ours=85


32 years ago, I was 16, and was working for a Lee Fadely’s Custom
Jewelry in Anderson Indiana. I did sizings, repairwork, and other
simple tasks at the time- my 1st paying jewelry job. One day he
called me in to his workroom, and said he wanted to show me
something very rare. He had a couple small round cabochons of
turqouise that he was setting into a pair of custom made ring
mountings-matching mans and ladys. He told me they were "Persian"
turqouise and said they were each worth a couple thousand $ each.
Especially big bucks for the time! Being a novice at the time, I had
never seen turqouise like that before and was seriously impressed.
All I had seen till then had been common grade stuff in cheap Indian
style stuff that was so common in the early 70’s. It had no matrix
or veining , was a soft but brilliant blue that almost glowed, and
was absolutely beautiful. It seemed like you could nearly reach into
it. I have seen alot of material that people have labeled as
’Persian’ over the ensuing years, but have never see anything even
remotely like it since.

Ed in Kokomo

Hi Lin.

Thank you for posting this timely and historic

I’ve been seeking lapis rough and natural stone heishi the last
couple of years and was surprised to find so many Afghani dealers in
Quartzsite and Tucson. I’d not visited some of these shows for a few
years - particularly in Quartzsite - and didn’t expect to locate
these numbers.

I inquired about the treatment of the stone beads at several dealers
and was told at each place that the stones were natural material but
had been oiled.

Pam Chott