China has mines that produce lots turquoise but we get very little
of the high quality, unstabilized material here in the U.S. Almost
everything we get here is medium to low grade and has been
stabilized or reconstituted in resin.
Of course that only speaks about natural turquoise. I have seen huge
amounts of "turquoise" coming out of China that is either dyed
howlite, magnesite, dolomite, or dyed concrete (yes I have seen some
actual poorly dyed concrete). I have seen hardly any of this stuff
that could fool a person by sight if they are experienced in working
with real turquoise. Unfortunately, so much of this stuff is being
sold as genuine turquoise with no mention of treatments, dyes or
I think that the only way you will know for sure what you are buying
is to either deal with a reputable business that you trust, buy
directly from a U.S. mine, or become very experienced in what high
grade turquoise is, what the enhancement and stabilizing techniques
are and how they affect the stone. I don't see anything wrong with
stabilizing natural mid-grade turquoise. If it wasn't done, there
wouldn't be enough sellable turquoise available for the markets'
demand and there wouldn't be enough affordable material. But, I have
a huge problem with dyeing to enhance color or dyeing other stones
and passing it off as natural.
The first indicator about whether or not you are buying the real
thing should be price. If you can get a strand of 8mm "turquoise"
beads for $2.00, they are either reconstituted chalk turquoise or
some other dyed stone. The other way to figure it out is what you
did, smack a bead and look inside. Unfortunately you'll have to buy
the strand to do this since I don't think any bead vendor wants you
smacking their beads. Of course you can just skip worrying about it
at all and just sell all of your turquoise jewelry as "simulated" to
be safe. Or, you can be like me and avoid the stone altogether. I
think the market is oversaturated with turquoise jewelry anyway.
Best of Luck to You,