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Telling if a turquoise is the real thing


#1

My brother-in-law gave me some stones several years back. I tossed
them in a drawer and forgot about them until today.

Now I’m wondering what they are. I believe he said they came off a
watch band he got in California.

They appear to be turquoise but I don’t know how to tell if they’re
the real thing or not. They all have a hole drilled in the center, and
some of the holes were partly filled with some sort of stretchy
semi-transparent adhesive. The stones have lots of matrix which is
dull and rough. The blue portions are very shiny. And they need a
good washing…

Is there a way to test them to tell if they’re natural turquoise,
treated turquoise or something else entirely?

The reason I’m asking is that I have a customer wanting something
with turquoise in it. I want to know what these stones are before I
make anything with them.

Photo of the stones is here:

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry
www.featheredgems.com


#2
Is there a way to test them to tell if they're natural turquoise,
treated turquoise or something else entirely? 

IDK about “natural” but to tell if they’re stabilized, tap them on
your teeth. If they feel/sound like glass they’re not stabilized.
Another way is to touch a piece of red-hot metal to the back of the
stone. If they burn and smell like plastic then they are.


#3
Now I'm wondering what they are. 

Take it as one opinion taken from a photo, but my first impression
is they look like howlite… Commonly dyed as a turquoise
substitute. But I could be wrong…


#4

Kathy, they appear to be treated turquoise beads, that would be my
best evaluation. Usually natural turquoise doesn’t have that hard
edge intense blue to it. Perhaps Chinese turquoise. Natural stone is
rarely used in beads since the drilling of beads produces so much
waste due to breakage.

Sam Patania, Tucson


#5

A few weeks ago I bought some turquoise colored rocks in an antique
store. The clerk told me they came from the owner’s mother who bought
or found them in the 60’s in the Southwest. I am also curious about
what these are. Also, should I polish them or leave them in their raw
state?

Thanks, Barbara


#6

Really really hard to tell just from a photo. I agree with Sam
Patinia that the color is suspect but the shape and matrix looks
pretty good. On the other hand, I have purchased Chinese 'turquoise’
only to find it was something else…possibly howlite but maybe one
of the new polymers. One way to tell, but it destroys the ‘bead’, is
to cut off a piece. If it suddenly turns white inside, it is
something that has been dyed. Also, check in the small indented
areas…if there is a slightly yellowish crystalline material it
will be resin and has been stabilized. Of course, if they were
stabilized with the Zachary process, you will never discern that.
Turquoise is one of the most doctored stones I know of and it is
just very difficult to know just what you are getting.

Cheers from Don in SOFL


#7
A few weeks ago I bought some turquoise colored rocks in an
antique store. The clerk told me they came from the owner's mother
who bought or found them in the 60's in the Southwest. I am also
curious about what these are. Also, should I polish them or leave
them in their raw state? 

That depends on what you want to do with them. Since you don’t have
provenance on which mine they came from their collectable value is
not very high. Check to see if it’s stabilized or colorshot.
Stabilized turquoise rough nuggets will have noticeable clear plastic
like matter in cracks and crevices. Colorshot (dyed) turquoise from
the 60’s is usually easy to spot. It has a very deep unnatural blue
spots and is commonly referred to as Tidy Bowl turquoise because Tidy
Bowl (yeah the stuff that turns toilet water blue) was used to dye
pale turquoise back in the day…

You can leave them as is or you can tumble them and polish them.
When tumbling start at 120/220 grit and check it every day. Turquoise
can disappear on you when tumbling.

Or you could have it cut into cabs and set them in jewelry.

Rick Copeland
rockymountainwonders.com


#8

Without close examination it is not possible to tell for sure of
course but I’m confident it is turquoise, not high quality and
stabilized with plastic.

Jerry in Kodiak


#9

Back in the 70’s, in Arizona, when it seemed everything was silver
and turquoise, I met a jewelry instructor up in Prescott, I believe.
He was pretty fed-up with turquoise, and told me about a special
acid he had developed to test turquoise with. You simply dropped the
turquoise into his acid, and if it was genuine turquoise, not
treated or synthetic, it would dissolve…

Jay Whaley


#10

Yeah, but then you’ve lost your nice piece of stone. LOL! I’ve been
working with Turquoise for 35 years, and can tell by handling and
looking at it whether it’s treated or colored, or natural. Without
having it in my hand though, it’s hard to say what she’s got. I’ve
got some of the treated stuff sitting around, from when I didn’t know
any better, some natural that’s too soft and pale to bother with, and
some really sweet gem-quality natural that I’m saving for a special
project.

Michael
www.radharcknives.com


#11

Jay,

You simply dropped the turquoise into his acid, and if it was
genuine turquoise, not treated or synthetic, it would dissolve...

Slight humour here I hope. Reminds me of the old New England test
for witches. Chuck them into the pond, sinking and drowning was proof
they weren’t a witch. Floaters and you had a real witch.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#12

Hello Jay, I like your test for turquoise, if real, the stone is
dissolved. They used to test to see if someone was a witch, they
were thrown in a river. If innocent, they would drown. The difference
between a chattam emerald and genuine is that when heated, the real
one is destroyed. interesting.

Tom Arnold


#13
You simply dropped the turquoise into his acid, and if it was
genuine turquoise, not treated or synthetic, it would dissolve... 

That reminds me of the test for witches - Villagers would toss a
suspected witch in the millpond. If she drowned, then her innocence
was proved, but if she floated, they’d fish her out for burning…

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#14

Hello all,

I have a 340ct. piece of Natural, (untreated) Kingman turquoise. I
got it thirty years ago and no longer know it’s value. If anyone
could help me or send me in the right direction I would much
appreciate it. Contact me off line.

Larry Silva
Da Gama Designs


#15

there is a test i heard about years ago to determine the difference
between real turquoise as stone as opposed to plastic or non stone
turquoise

#1) obtain and light any type of commercial cigarette

#2) relieve a human of possesion of one head hair

#3) stretch hair tight across surface of cabbed or polished alleged
turquoise

#4) briefly on/off less than a second, touch ash free lit end of lit
cigarette to hair stretched on cab

A, hair burns ? not stone or

B,hair does Not burn real stone. i have done this many times it is
not something taught in school or degree programs so all doubting
comments are best kept under control until you try it and find out
that it does work with no illl effects to the jewelry unless it is
plastic -

later goo


#16

Larry, To get a current price point, I suggest you go on line and
google Kingman turquoise. Find out what the current going price is
and apply that to your material. There are so many variables…such
as just the color, the amount of matrix, shape, thickness, etc, etc.
Unless one works with such turquoise every day, they would be out of
touch. I cut a lot of turquoise but lots of it I purchased years ago
and have lost the original price on it…some of it is Chinese or
Mexican and those prices vary as well. Check out the current offers
on line!!

Cheers from Don in SOFL.


#17

One way I’ve learned to tell it turquoise is stabilized when it is
set in jewelry is to take the piece and rub the stone rapidly against
the leg of my jeans until the stone gets hot from friction then smell
the stone. A stabilized stone will have a slight plastic smell to it.
This method will not detect stones stabilized with the Zachary
process or other methods of silicating turquoise but is usually good
for detecting most stabilized turquoise stones.

Rick Copeland
rockymountainwonders.com