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Stablized tourquise health hazard


#1

I have had a piece of tourquise for a long time that I have always
suspected was stabilized. I guess much of it is. I cut some today and
it gave off a smell like I get when working with resin. My assumption
is that the stabilizer is some sort of resin. It will not polish like
other harder stones, however I can get it to polish quickly with ZAM.
My question is: does working with this stuff pose a health hazard?
Any other thoughts about stabilized material is also appreciated. Thanks. Rob


#2
My question is: does working with this stuff pose a health hazard? 

You shouldn’t breathe anything but air. If you can smell it you’re
probably breathing it. Wear a mask.

Paf Dvorak


#3

Rob,

You should always consider any stone, even stabilized ones, as a
health hazard. I also work with wood and consider every piece as
toxic. you can always get another stone but when you lose your
health, it’s gone.

Just my humble opinion

Chuck


#4

Stabilized turquoise is "stabilized’ with a plastic resin that sets
up with an activator. What that resin is, is a trade secret to most
people who stabilize turquoise so I can’t speak to what toxic
chemicals grinding it could release. Go anywhere near Colbaugh’s shop
in Kingman, AZ and you will smell what they stabilize with. It smells
like an auto paint booth within a 1/4 mile of the place.

I’ve never suffered any ill effects from cutting stabilized
turquoise. You are probably in more danger of getting silicosis from
the stone being ground than anything in the stabilizers. I know
cutters who won’t cut anything without a certified respirator. I only
get concerned about toxic and heavy metal stones like Malachite,
Azurite, cinnabar, etc. I rely on a dust collector that was designed
for the dental industry and has a replaceable carbon filter to remove
annoying smells from plastics and the ilk.

Zam is commonly used to polish turquoise.

Rick Copeland
Colorado


#5

You can still find natural turquoise out there, but much (maybe the
majority) is treated in some manner. Toward the end of closing some
of the mines that you have all heard of, much of the best stone was
being treated, I really never understood why. I personally have
continued to work with natural stone out of preference, and as long
as you are using plenty of water on your wheels, turquoise is one of
the easier stones to cut. Zam is a good finish on natural stone also.
On smaller uncomplicated forms I stop using machines after grinding
with a 600 metal wheel. I then go to 220, 400, 600 wet/dry SIC paper,
quickly sanding through each grit (washing off the previous grit with
plenty of water), and then Zam. The resulting finish is as good as
100,000 grit and cerium oxide/Linde “A” or any other polishing agent.
Keep in mind that even the best turquoise is soft enough that the
beautiful finish you are putting on is a fleeting thing, and if the
person that buys the product wears it much, it will soon be scratched
and scarred and hopefully loved. To more directly answer the
question, the resins could be more toxic, so once again, plenty of
water. There are so many ways to create plastic turquoise that it is
hard to keep up with. There are also many unscrupulous individuals
that sell as natural. Some of them go as far as partial tumbling
after treating nuggets to fool the buyers, but you can usually find
some resin that has not come off if you check it under magnification.
I have some beautiful stone that I can’t bring myself to work with,
that is treated, that I picked up at an estate auction and you can
just barely tell there is resin in it. We all have our personal hang
ups I guess. Thomas III


#6

Thanks to all who replied to this question. I was not aware of the
secret nature of stabilization. Your precautions about wearing a
mask is well taken. I have worn one while polishing silver and gold
for forty years.

Rob
Rob and Sandy Meixner


#7

Dear Tom, Turquoise is a passion of mine, I grew up in New Mexico
with some of the finest examples during the 50’s and 60’s. As a buyer
only, it is tragic to have a bracelet of unstablized, and to have one
of the three largest nuggets crumble, and the same goes for a much
worn nugget necklace. And crumbling is not the only problem. I have a
nice necklace that has yellowed because of the body oils it attracted
and absorbed. I still have all the stabilized turquoise I ever
bought, and it is in great condition. So now that I am a jeweler, I
have to consider how the nuggets will last, and if they are not
stabilized, then I should do it myself.


#8
Turquoise is a passion of mine, I grew up in New Mexico with some
of the finest examples during the 50's and 60's. As a buyer only,
it is tragic to have a bracelet of unstablized, and to have one of
the three largest nuggets crumble, and the same goes for a much
worn nugget necklace. And crumbling is not the only problem. I
have a nice necklace that has yellowed because of the body oils it
attracted and absorbed 

How can you say that ? One one hand you are saying that turquoise is
your passion. On the otherhand, you make stabilized turquoise is some
kind of panacea.

Stabilized turquoise is a scourge for turquoise lover. There is no
reason to stabilize turquoise, unless material is not worthy of been
called turquoise. If you go to my website, you shall find an article
"Understanding Turquoise". Here is the link
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zq0

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#9

Hi Pat, I believe I ended that posting with “we all have our own
hang-ups”, or some such comment. I personally prefer to use
untreated stones, and I don’t judge your decision to widen your
range. Mr. Cogswell is a favorite of mine, and way out of my league
in general. I read a Penland jewelers book lots of years ago that
included a project or two by him, where he used some plastic in a
pin. I try to draw inspiration from those that I admire, but for the
life of me, I could not get myself to let go and use plastic. Daniel
Brush, also a great artist, beyond being a jeweler, made some corian
and gold pieces with rubies and diamonds;same thing, I could not make
myself work with corian. Out in my shop today I have all manner of
materials that I have collected over the years, including plastics,
and corian, that I intended to someday use in jewelry, but it is very
rare (usually a custom order) that I can pull it off. A sculpture, or
any sort of strictly art piece no problem, but not with jewelry. I
have not had the problems with quality stone, that you have. I also
love turquoise, and it was the first stone that I worked with past
soft stuff like soapstone and alabaster, so 40+ years. I know of many
pieces that my longtime customers have, and of course family and
friends. Simply don’t have the problems you mention, except the
change in color from body oils, and that is at a minimum because the
better stone is denser. I am repairing a pendant that I made 15 years
ago, or so, that belongs to a sister-in-law who won’t stop wearing it
in hot tubs. It is different kts and colors of gold with a piece of
apatite that I cut, and a turquoise bead out of very hard turquoise.
The caustic materials in the hot tub have eaten through the solder
joints twice over the years, and this time the bail wore through from
chain rub, but other than a slight change in color in the bead (she
never takes it off), still not a bad looking piece of jewelry. With
all the stone treatment today, I walk a hair line that’s not very
straight. The industry has accepted heat treated stones, irradiated,
diffusion coated, every kind of dye job and plastic imaginable. I
simply can’t afford rubies and sapphires that are not treated. I
still have ivories that I purchased, or had given to me, all legal,
but where is the moral line. Bear claws, and a full set of sea lion
teeth. I lived in British Columbia for about 6 years, and a friend
pulled the teeth out of a rotting carcass up the beach from where I
lived, and a friend of mine hit the bear coming home from a trip.
These sorts of moral questions float around my head every time I
notice something in the shop I have taken the personal responsibility
for, that has that kind of tag. Do I simply get stuck with the karma
no matter what? Should I have not thanked my friend for braving the
rotting smell of that sea lion to get me those teeth knowing that I
would make a nice piece of jewelry from the waste? Still confused,
Thomas III


#10

Leonid,

I hope this stays civil. First you go into great detail on aspects
you want to bring out in your blog about turquoise. But one glaring
thing popped into my little pea brain. If you discount any turquoise
because it has inclusion of some other mineral that might change the
color from the perfect blue of Persian turquoise, then what do you
have to say about sapphires? They are not all the same color. The
differences being “GASP” the minerals that change their colors. Are
they still sapphires when they are orange, green, or purple?

Turquoise is mined in many places on this planet. Some have "GASP"
inclusions in them to strengthen the crystalline structure. Some do
not. Look at Opals. They are a silicate. Do we discount an opal say
from Peru because it doesn’t have that nice rainbow effect? What
about the various Australian opals?

Do we say one is good and another crap? What about Emeralds? Do we
say the Jardin affect is bad and only Emeralds that are flawless are
good? Or do we say it has to be a certain perfect color? I could go
on, but I’m sure you are getting the idea of what I’m talking about.

The differences in the initial make up of a stone can also bring out
what is beautiful. I go for the beauty. What I do not go for and do
not agree with unless you fully tell someone what has been done is
the enhancements. In regards to the subsets of enhancements of
softer stones of the opaque nature ie turquoise in this discussion, I
do not believe in the dying, compression, or even heat treating. If
people do go for setting these types of stones, it must ALWAYS be
disclosed. I find this personally abhorrent. With those types of
enhancements, they become man made imitations of the real thing.

Excuse me in advance, but I disagree with you on this score. Our
backgrounds are similar, but different. I have a heavy background in
chemistry, but mine went to a different area. I can expound upon the
Krebs cycle and ases til the cows come home, but you would probably
go glassy eyed when I start going into the chemical reactions of
reverse transcriptases. I know enough of what you all are talking
about when you start breaking everything down to the bonds, electron
numbers and such, but in the end, I don’t think you would give to
potty breaks nor would I want more huge steaming piles of male bovine
solid exhaust put into a discussion just so that we all sound smarter
than the next. that kind of minutia is unnecessary most the time.

Stabilization is not evil. I’ve seen malachite that is a very fine
furry mass. Yet with the help of stabilization it turned into the most
magnificent chatoyant gem stone. Albeit a semi precious one. I’ve
also in the past kicked around rock hounding in many states. I’ve dug
for turquoise in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. You can find great
colored stones that sitting side by side, due to deposition may have
not gotten that one crucial ingredient to make it harder. Now you
would throw the softer one away. Yet it’s beauty would rival the one
next to it. Mother Nature didn’t make them completely equal in
stability. I find no harm in stabilizing the softer rock to make it
equal. Call it my form of rock equality. Do I think all turquoise is
worth the equality? No! I do discriminate. The stuff they are calling
white Buffalo turquoise is nothing more than Howlite. I personally
know of a deposit out on the Arizona strip that has wonderful color,
but is too powdery. It will crumble in your hands just trying to
break it out of the host rock. I would not stabilize it. Powder is
powder. Talc would be diamond hard compared to this stuff. Yet if the
rock had initial strength I would go after it.

Then there is the problem with natural stones. Mother nature does in
some instances bestow her magic, and make a stone impervious to
outside forces that would change the color. Yet look at Topazes. A
lot of material would bleach out white in the sun. Is it still a
topaz? Clear faceted topaz can rival diamonds in beauty. But the
perfect topazes are the darker reddish brown, the oranges browns, the
darker yellows. Then you have Labrodorite. It too can change color in
sun light. Conch pearls too can change colors depending on usage and
contact with body oils. If it were a perfect world, I would not have
to add oils to the outer layer of my body to protect it. Yet my
father never did nor did he burn. Life is not fair, nor is nature. To
me stabilization makes gem stones (semi precious) equal. It is not
enhancement, it is protection.

Leonid, I value your expertise. I often enjoy your input. Yet there
are times I would like to meet you in person so I could see for
myself your body language in these discussions. I may be interpreting
you wrong, or I might be interpreting you properly. I can’t say. We
may just end up agreeing to disagree. After all we are the same
composition theoretically. Yet you may be worth more than me since
you may have more melanin than I have. Yes the same, but different.
I doubt you are glow in the dark white like me. I enhance my hair,
and I stabilize my skin. Just think though, I’m not claiming to be a
gemstone so we are safe.


#11

Dear Leonard, loved the link on turquoise, it was really one of the
best I have read. I found it rather ironic when you commented in
your article: "Nodules larger than 4 inches in size or even more, but
with increased size, the quality decreases. The reason being is that
in outer zones of a nodule, Turquoise is replaced partially with clay
minerals. Such turquoise is soft and have chalky texture Only the
inner core nodules contain what we are looking for, precious
turquoise. "Today at Fire Mountain gems, they have hundreds of
listings for turquoise under 10 are actual real turquoise. JnsBeads
has nearly a thousand, and none of it would pass the tests as
turquoise. All Tribes Silver, who are a major supplier for Native
American jewelry, No real turquoise is available, it is all clearly
marked Magnasite. Availablity is one of the biggest problems, and
when it is available, it has a value that takes it out of the common
persons budget. At any given time there are only 1-2 mines operating
in the United States. Most of the available turquoise then comes
from Mexico, and again we do not know what we are buying.Maybe I have
not been able to afford top quality turquoise, but right now, it is
hard to find the real stuff, and harder still to not have to alter
it. I bought six nuggets from Sleeping Beauty, and one of the nuggets
crumbled while just inspecting it. 95% of what is on the market is
not true turquoise, but varasite and magnasite, howlite, and just
plain old painted jasper. Of the remaining 5% it is hard to find
none stabalized. So where does that leave the common
purchaser… At this moment on the market, I prefer
stabalized Respectfully, pat


#12
What about Emeralds? Do we say the Jardin affect is bad and only
Emeralds that are flawless are good? Or do we say it has to be a
certain perfect color? I could go on, but I'm sure you are getting
the idea of what I'm talking about. 

I wrote this piece about turquoise few years ago. The reason was
similar to current subject and I just wanted to show how much there
is to know about a single gem. And believe me, I have only scratched
the surface. If we expand this discussion to other gemstones it will
be really monumental work to do it with even modicum of diligence.
There is no substitute for a good course in gemology, supplemented
with additional reading of everything one can get their hands on.
That will be my recommendation.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13
I bought six nuggets from Sleeping Beauty, and one of the nuggets
crumbled while just inspecting it. 95% of what is on the market is
not true turquoise, but varasite and magnasite, howlite, and just
plain old painted jasper. Of the remaining 5% it is hard to find
none stabalized. So where does that leave the common purchaser. 

But that is true of any gem. And that what makes gemstone precious.
That is why it is important to develop appreciation for gemstones,
untreated in any way. Yes, not everybody can afford it, but that what
make gemstone, a gemstone.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#14

Clearing up a misunderstanding

I never said silver was crap, enhanced gems yes.

I never said true art made from silver was crap either.

A silver ring with an enhanced stone is as I said IMHO is COSTUME
jewellery, no matter how beautiful it may be.

NOTE I did not say it was crap. Inexpensive, yes.

A silver ring with a fine sapphire is NOT costume jewellery. It is a
genuine piece of jewellery.

As for gold alloys, low carat alloys are crap. Why? The major metal
component is NOT gold.

9 karat is by analysis copper with some gold, it has 375 parts of
gold for 1000 parts of metal. It is only 37.5% gold hence calling it
gold is a “nicety”. Hence it is crap.

Now 18 karat gold is 750 parts of gold for 1000 parts of metal, and
is the international minimum standard of quality gold in the WESTERN
world.

HOWEVER most people in the world think even this is crap. How can
this be?

Well if you add the populations of China, India, Japan and the other
Asian countries together you get MOST of the people on the planet.

To them gold is 24 karat (22 at a pinch). Who’d have thunk that? Not
the average Westerner.

The is why many people think the gold jewellery worn by Asians is a
"funny" colour.

This is because in the West people are used to seeing low karat
alloys and do not know what colour gold really is.

Are quality alloys e.g. 18 karat expensive?

My last gold ring had 5 grams of 18kt and a 6mm round a grade party
sapphire (untreated of course). Hardly a large material cost. About
$600 AU.

Richard


#15
As for gold alloys, low carat alloys are crap. Why? The major
metal component is NOT gold. 9 karat is by analysis copper with some
gold, it has 375 parts of gold for 1000 parts of metal. It is only
37.5% gold hence calling it gold is a "nicety". Hence it is crap. 

It’s an Australian standard, so it’s gold in Australia.

Now 18 karat gold is 750 parts of gold for 1000 parts of metal,
and is the international minimum standard of quality gold in the
WESTERN world. 

Is that a pseudo standard, although I sort of agree, I can’t say
I’ve read it anywhere.

The is why many people think the gold jewellery worn by Asians is
a "funny" colour. 

I don’t think pure gold is a funny colour, I don’t particularly like
the colour of fine gold, I like the colours you get when you mix a
nice alloy.

My last gold ring had 5 grams of 18kt and a 6mm round a grade
party sapphire (untreated of course). Hardly a large material cost.
About $600 AU. 

Wow your metal merchant isn’t doing you any favours :frowning:

Regards Charles A.


#16

I have untreated turquoise and also a question about a treatment.

I have a quantity of untreated Peruvian Turquoise mined many years
ago. Some of the pieces are very large. It is not super hard, but is
plenty hard enough for pendants and belt buckles. It’s at least as
hard as amber. And it’s plenty hard enough to take an excellent
polish.

In it’s natural form, it tends to be rather a pale blue/green. But
of course the color is variable.

I heard many years ago that if a person wore unstabilized turq, it
would absorb the skin oil and darken after a while. So I thought I’d
experiment. I soaked some of the turq in mineral oil. Voila. It went
into much deeper very rich colors. Some other turq, from a source I
got separately, no idea where it came from, went a perfect robin’s
egg. Then I used just enough heat to allow the oil to get thinner
and the stones are definitely infused.

It seems perfectly stabile and retains it’s beauty.

I have not treated a lot of it, because I’m unsure where to put this
treatment. I mean other stones are treated just as minimally.
Emeralds are oiled to fill voids, long standing practice and
prefectly accepted as natural. Wherease opticon etc. is considered a
treatment.

And if the stories are true, all I’m doing is speeding up the
process of changing the color by getting oils in there before it’s
worn.

I might add that many people use mineral oil for massage purposes,
so it’s harmless on the skin.

And I must say it’s nice to have a piece of natural turq that’s
solid without crazing and as much as 5" long x 2.5" across.

Just not entirely sure what to call the treated stone. It is
definitely turquoise and it is not stabilized.

PS, I have many small pieces of hard untreated very blue Kingsman
too.

Derek Levin
Gemmaker


#17

My last gold ring had 5 grams of 18kt and a 6mm round a grade party
sapphire (untreated of course). Hardly a large material cost. About
$600 AU.

Wow your metal merchant isn't doing you any favours :-( 

Charles, don’t know how you can make a value judgement from that
statement?

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#18

Hi

pediatricians do not recommend mineral oil for babies. Also in aged
care sorbolene is no longer recommended.

Again just because people do something does not make it correct.

Richard