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Stabilized Vs. natural turquoise?


#1

Hi all, I’ve been ebaying for supplies and picked up 5 lbs of sliced
turquoise rough…probably from Arizona for about $60. I was trying to
find turquoise prices by lb or gram online…this worked out to
about 2.6 cents per gram, which for sliced material seems really
good to me…but much of what I saw online for sale for around 35-40
cents a gram was stablized. I suspect the stuff I am getting is
natural/untreated. How do prices compare w/ Stabilized turquoise? Is
Natural turquoise cheaper or more expensive on average than
Stabilized stuff? BTW…isn’t turquoise fairly light material?
Wouldn’t stabilized stuff actually be heavier than natural material?

If anyone wants to see the lot…go to ebay and That’s the
item number. Wasn’t sure if the ebay link would be filtered out or
not (know it is on orchid).

Ebay link removed - Sorry no Ebay listings on Orchid

Thanks,
Jeanne


#2

Jeanne,

It sounds like you got a steal of a deal with that turquoise.

Stabilized turquoise is generally a little cheaper than natural
because, as was mentioned by another, lower quality turquoise can be
made marketable with the process. However, that does not make
stabilized turquoise automatically less valuable. When I bought
some beads from the Sleeping Beauty Mine in AZ (when they were
selling beads) the stabilized ones were only slightly less expensive.

The process should not make them heavier - at least not noticeably
so. Turquoise may be lighter than some stones, but not a whole lot.
It is, however, more pourous. That’s where the stabilizing comes into
play. It seals the surface, so skin oils won’t change the color
(which will happen with natural) and the material is less likely to
break. Turquoise is a very soft stone, so breakage is always a
problem. Stabilizing fills in the tiny cracks and crevices with a
kind of plastic type material that would be prone to become
fractures. Stabilizing will, however, make the material darker.

Personally, I think stabilizing makes the stone more useful for
jewelry applications, but it is hard to beat the robin’s egg blue you
can sometimes find in the natural material. You just have to accept
that it won’t stay that way with wear.

Susan
Sun Country Gems
www.suncountrygems.com


#3

Jeanne,

When I buy turquoise, it isn’t real heavy, and it isn’t real light
either, but it’s a rock. Your pricing sounds pretty good.

Jerry


#4
   How do prices compare w/ Stabilized turquoise? Is Natural
turquoise cheaper or more expensive on average than Stabilized
stuff?  BTW...isn't turquoise fairly light material? Wouldn't
stabilized stuff actually be heavier than natural material? 

Stabilized means anything that has been used to treat the rough
material. The rough can run from just needing a little fracture
sealing with Opti-Con to prevent it from pulling at the matrix when
polishing, to treating a chalky material with resins under pressure
so that you wind up with more plastic than rock. There is also
waxing and oiling used for treatments. Good natural turquoise has a
Mohs hardness of 7-7.5, or comparable to a corundum, and will
scratch glass easily. Some good quallity natural turquoise will have
a Mohs of 6.5. The natural change of color is called patina aging,
and in natural turquoise is very attractive and highly sought after,
including people buying “old pawn” to use the stones. The finest
natural material with exquisite spiderwebbing will go for $45 per
carat, finished. To check your material for stabilization, heat up a
needle to cherry red and stick it on several places, especially
where there is matrix. If you smell acrid plastic or a resinous
smell, then it is treated. Natural turquoise smells like hot rock.
Natural turquoise is more expensive than stabilized in comparable
color and clarity.


#5

Jeanne,

Gadzooks ! Five pounds of sliced Turquoise for sixty dollars ! That
is an incredible price…problem is. there is TURQUOISE and there
is turquoise. Many Turquoise mines produce PILES of mediocre
material that must be treated or discarded. Furthermore, low grade
Turquoise which has been DYED and treated is very often quite hoaky
looking. By this I mean that it does not have the appearance of fine
natural Turquoise but, rather, a monotonous ,gaudy, off color
appearance. You have either fallen into a great deal or a pile of
poop.

Good natural Turquoise is always much more expensive than treated
material, although some alternative treatment methods do affect a
naturalistic appearance. A good starting point in testing Turquoise
is to hold a piece to your tongue. If your tongue sticks at all it
is probably natural, but not necessarily good natural. If you
suspect material that might be treated, applying a piece to a
grinding wheel will give a distinctive odor suggestive of burning
plastic. Natural; Turquoise, when applied to a grinding wheel, when
you are not wearing a breathing mask, will ultimately result in your
gaining an unpleasant metallic taste in your mouth. Another
classical test for treated Turquoise is to hold a hot needle to the
stone and, if the material turns brown it is resin impregnated. This
latter test isn’t very reliable because all too often the heat of
the needle is insufficient to get a definitive reaction.

I suggest that you get in touch with one of the Southwestern jewelry
supply companies and purchase a small amount of the various types of
Turquoise, treated and untreated, and familairize yourself with the
physical attributes of each. There is no substitute for in hand
experience. Furthermore, Turquoise is infinitely variable inasmuch as
each mine produces its own variations, not to mention the variations
which occur within a given mine.

Ron Mills,
Mills Gem Co.Los Osos, Ca.


#6
Good natural turquoise has a Mohs hardness of 7-7.5, or comparable
to a corundum, and will scratch glass easily. Some good quallity
natural turquoise will have a Mohs of 6.5. 

Excuse me Kathrine, corundum has a hardness of 9 and anything over
5.5 will scratch glass. It looks like you might have typed a
sentence and then changed it. You are correct that some natural
turquoise will be up to 6.5 but I never

have heard of any over that. Anyone else?

Just wanted to keep the record straight.

Cheeers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#7

Corundum is a ‘9’ on the hardness scale - it is incredibly harder
than turquoise. Scratching glass is hardly a modern test, especially
with all of the different hardnesses of glass available!

Lee


#8

Sorry, Your assertions about the hardness of Turquoise are totally
off base. Turquoise is seldom anywhere near Moh’s 7on the hardness
scale. Since most Turquoise is impregnated with resins you can also
assume that muchTurquoise is about as hard as the plastic that it
has absorbed i.e. about a hardness of 3…

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca


#9
Sorry, Your assertions about the hardness of Turquoise are totally
off base. Turquoise is seldom anywhere near Moh's 7on the hardness
scale. 

There is turquoise from Cripple Creek, Colorado that is silicated and
some of the hardest ever found

Richard Hart


#10
 Since most Turquoise is impregnated with resins you can also
assume that muchTurquoise is about as hard as the plastic that it
has absorbed i.e. about a hardness of 3....

Ron, I thought “gem” and “high” quality turquoise could be nearly a
hardness of 5?


#11

I would be surprised to find any turquoise with a hardness greater
than 5 1\2. further if your tongue sticks to it is probably
chrysacola. At Tucson last Jan turquoise sold for $60 per lb.for
stabilized Chinese to $300 for untreated sleeping beauty.A pound will
make 15-20 good sized bracelets


#12

All, can I claim stupidity as an excuse? I’m not a lapidary. Sorry,
meant to say Mohs Seven. Yeah, it’s rare, but it does exist. Persian
"Old Rock" is probably the most well known, but there are "Old Rock"
deposits in the U.S. I have one piece in a bracelet, ahem, set around
35 years ago, that is still as beautiful as the day it was set. It
cost $25 for just the stone at the time, an exhorbitant price, and it
was bought from Thunderbird, a reputable place for turquoise. So I
may not know much about the science, but I do have a discerning eye
for beautiful turquoise. So, mea culpa and move on.


#13

The parcel arrived at my mother’s place…haven’t seen it myself,
but she said It had some nice colors and fairly large but somewhat
thin slabs in it. Will hopefully see it all in about 4 weeks when I
finally move from Norway to USA!!! I finally got my place sold here
in Norway! Asheville, here I come!

Jeanne


#14

Dear Strammy,

Your contention that a stuck tongue denotes chrysocolla is well
intended, but unfounded. Yes, chrysocolla can be porous, but seldom
is, whereas natural Turquoise is typically porous. This is exactly
why old pawn very often has green Turquoise; the stones have
absorbed oils from the wearers’ skin, thus turning it green. It is
also the basis for treatment…low grade Turquoise readily accepts
adulterants. On a more practical level, it is advisable to soak
natural Turquoise in water for several days prior to cutting it with
an oil cooled diamond saw otherwise it will absorb the oil.

Ron Mills, Mills gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#15

Richard,

I am well aware of the claims that Cripple Creek Turquoise is hard;
some contend that it is as hard as quartz. Nonetheless, I am unaware
of any definitive proof that it is that hard. It seems to me that
GIA might put the issue to rest. As for silicated turquoise that too
is a conundrum. I have heard that contention applied to variscite
from some mines in Nevada and I also know from first hand experience
that Nevade variscite is highly variable in hardness. In either case
it would seem to me that you could hardly call either mineral pure
if it were variable in molecular structure. True, other elements can
be present, but they typically are present only at the trace level.
It may be that it would be possible for other minerals to be present
within the Turquoise. Chalcedony could quite conceivably be present
as an admixture, but I would think that microscopic examination
would determine whether this were true. Here again, we would be
talking about a rock, not a mineral. It is fascinating, but a bit
too nitpicky…

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#16

Excuse me Kathrine, corundum has a hardness of 9 and anything over
5.5 will scratch glass. It looks like you might have typed a
sentence and then changed it. You are correct that some natural
turquoise will be up to 6.5 but I never

have heard of any over that. Anyone else?

Turquoise is often somewhat porous, and in my experience, it’s not
uncommon for the best and hardest samples to get a good deal of
their hardness because of silica that has infused the turquoise. That
could increase the hardness to near seven, I’ll bet, though I’ve
never tried to test it. I’m aware of some treatments that have been
used with turquoise that do exactly that, infuse silica into the more
porous turquoise rather than the more common resin treatments. My
understanding is that these are then tricky to detect because it
tries to mimic something that can occur naturally. I’ve not
encountered any that would appear to be any hard than that, or
frankly, even quite as hard as quartz itself. But anything is
possible, and I do have some old bisbee stones that, along with an
undramatic lack of intense color, seem quite hard, and even have some
individual clearly defined quartz crystals imbedded in it. Someone
testing the hardness of these could easily be fooled by those
imbedded small crystals.

Peter


#17

I have a piece of pilot mountain turquoise, not only is it darn
close to a six. It has also held it’s color thru three rings that I
have worn out around it. I have abused that turq. to a point of the
ridiculous Yet it remains as blue as the day I cut it.

Ringman


#18

I have some very rare, beautiful, sky blue, spider web Kingman
turquoise I inlaid in a ring in 1976. It does not stick to the
tongue and has not changed in color since it was inlaid. I cut the
stone myself and know it is natural. I found a piece of mating
turquoise in a bunch of raw material in Tucson. When I went to pay
the marked price for the stone the dealer did not want to sell it to
me. I brought it home. The stone is so hard it cannot be scratched
with a knife blade.

Lee Epperson


#19

As to the question of natural turquoise: this posted by a member of
this list. First it needs a look over. His turquoise may be natural,
or maybe not. As soon as you cut it you will know, it will smell like
glue if usually treated. I believe that the word stabilized should be
gotten rid of, let’s face reality, this is plasticized and should be
by law declared such. Most of this stuff, virtually all of it, looks
phony. If you cut you can spot most all of it across the room,
period. This “stuff” is not turquoise. It is chalk and plastic. A
piece of stabilized was tested by a lab in California and analyzed
about two years ago, it was over 70% polymer, i.e. plastic. I forget
where the result was published. That is what the “resin” is, it is a
plastic. Do not get me wrong I have a few pieces left over that are
heavily metalized, the problem is that the matrix between the rock
and metal is very soft, this undercuts, I have a diamond unit and
that dose not solve it. It should be treated. I do not recall the
details, but acetone and epoxy can be used for that. I also have two
pieces of opal that can also use that. I forget the exact formula but
this consists of using the acetone and both tubes of epoxy and
soaking the material. The directions are on the rockhound list in the
archives of past posts. I will save up until I have enough to
justify a batch of the problem rocks.

I do not meat to snub this, some of the better is hard to tell just
by look, especially if set. That is acceptable. But most of this has
a look that screams to what it is. Most should be regulated to
costume jewelry, the kind featuring cast base metal etc.

I almost can not believe the misI have seen on the list.
As in Persian “Old Rock.” That is not the right term. The term is old
mine or new mine. This has nothing to do with when the material was
mined. Most turquoise can be stained by body oils, old mine is immune
to that, out of Chinese material I have one piece that would be
called porcelain, this would be classed also as old mine (beyond
doubt). How can you tell? Unfortunately usually only by warring it
over time, best to treat all of it as new-mine, unless you like green
turquoise (It can be stained etc. and discolored by oils from your
skin). Which I do, although I like the blue better, I find Fox Mine
attractive, that tends, like most Nevada turquoise toward the green.

What should it cost, natural can go for as little as ten cents a
gram or less. Depends on material. And size shape etc. and if it has
a name. Hopefully the turquoise fad is over and prices will reflect
it. Ebay is usually the very worst place to get anything; there are a
few exceptions, but not for stone, usually you are very lucky to get
anywhere near to what you pay for. I know of two places selling good
quality for just over $200 a kilo. Sorry I will not post it.
Sleeping Beauty if you have a tax number will sell direct to you,
$250 a pound for large light blue flats. Darker is more, non flats
less etc. Most of what you see is the less expensive, going for
higher prices in smaller lots. Some of that you can get direct for
under $100 lb. There are of course several selling small amounts of
certain material for high prices, Gram Cabbing, Color Wright, but in
this case what you get is what is called cherry pickings. You are
lucky to find any as good in a larger lot; as to if it is worth it,
depends, you cannot beat quality. As to the Cripple Creek, some time
back I was strapped, out of curiosity, I asked if I could buy a
half-pound, they said yes (at the same rate). A few weeks back SFJS
was selling off small parcels at very nearly the exact price as
buying by the pound (sorry it’s gone). As for the garbage that there
is not enough natural, this is pure ----, anyone saying this is a
liar, or ignorant, they just don’t want to pay for it. Moreover this
is pure rationalization to justify the material they want to sell
you. The truth of this is self-evident providing you do the legwork.

Sincerely, Love to Cut


#20

Jake

Without stabilized/treated turquoise a high percentage of turquoise
jewelers would be out of business. I assume that you are one of the
purest that can afford natural turquoise and would like to " gotten
rid " of our bread and butter.

By the way I,am one of those un-purest who make my living
Stabilizing Turquoise which in my humbly opinion is a pretty good
product for the price.

Best regards…Please don’t take this criticism personally…it,s
only business.

Steve