White Turquoise

Just try to keep in mind that there are many misnomers for
When you come across a gemstone you don't recognize,
it's often labeled with one.


I have a student in a metalsmithing class who loves turquoise. She
also has some cabs that look pretty much the same, but are white,
with veining. She insists that they are “white turquoise”, and that
it is just my opinion when I say that there is no such thing. After
all, the guy who sold them to her said that’s what they are! If she
could afford it, she would probably show up with some yellow rubies
and white emeralds too. I don’t know why she is so determined not to
believe me. I do have this right, don’t I? I don’t seem to have a
book that says, in so many words, that turquoise can’t be white.

[Orchid] Rare(?) White turquoise?


Noel -

I just saw “White Buffalo Turquoise” at my favorite gem shop in
Tucson. Shawn Starr, who bought it, wasn’t there to answer my
questions, so I had just looked it up a few days ago and found this:

“White Buffalo” Turquoise

When discovered in the Dry Creek Mine, north of Austin, Nevada, in
1993,they were not sure what it was. Because of its hardness, it was
decided to send it in to be assayed and their suspicions proved
correct; it was in fact White Turquoise. It was not until 1996,
however, that it was finally made into jewelry.

The chemical name for Turquoise is Aluma Phosphate which, in its
pure chemical state, is white. Turquoise takes on color via an
intrusion of either copper or iron. In the case of Dry Creek ore, the
slight coloration, when present, is the result of copper. The more
intrusion, the darker the color.

Blue turquoise forms where there is copper present, which is the
case with most Arizona turquoises. Green turquoise forms where iron
is present, the case with most Nevada turquoises.

White Turquoise forms where there are no heavy metals present, which
turns out to be a very rare occurrence. To date, no other vein of gem
quality white turquoise has been discovered anywhere else in the
world. When this current vein runs out, that will be the last of it.
Because White Turquoise is as rare as a white buffalo, the Indians
call it “White Buffalo” Turquoise. The White Turquoise is itself
considered sacred and powerful. The jewelry-making is an honoring or
tribute to the “White Buffalo” Turquoise."

source: Yandre and Teague - an Indian jewelery gallery in Nevada

I haven’t had time to chase down more about this or verify above
statements - it’s not in my older gem books.

The thread from Orchid (above) had some similar but
also suggested it could be howlite, and also that many facts are
played “loose” with this type of newish stone. There is no doubt,
though, that the white turquoise from Nevada that I got is hard and
behaves like some turquoise when cutting (I reshaped a piece to fit a


I do have this right, don't I? I don't seem to have a book that
says, in so many words, that turquoise can't be white. Help? 
[Orchid] Rare(?) White turquoise?

Here’s another link to muddy the waters further:

Turquoise’s chemical composition is CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8 5H20. A URL
from another post:

states that their white “turquoise” contains no iron or copper.
Well, gemologically speaking, if it doesn’t contain copper, it isn’t
turquoise. I’d really like to see the “assay” report mentioned on
the vcnevada.com website. I don’t know what this white “turquoise”
really is, but I’ll see if I can pick some up to test next time I
run across it.

James in SoFl

The chemical name for Turquoise is Aluma Phosphate

News to me. Is “aluma” even a word?

Seriously, according to Pough’s Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals,
turquoise is “hydrous basic aluminum phosphate plus copper,” and is
sky blue to light greenish blue. With no copper, I believe we would
be talking about "hydrous basic aluminum phosphate, AKA wavellite.
Wavellite can be white. But it ain’t turquoise.

I also saw the “aluma” rap on Yandre and Teague’s website. There
oughta be a law…

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry

i think the “white turquoise” is undyed and unwaxed howlite, a
common simulant.

I have two pieces of  "white buffalo" turquoise jewelry with the
same written handout about the history of this stone stated in
Roseann Hanson's   comment.  In the attached URL snapshot of these
pieces, the photo shows that the pendant stone is a pale blue.  

The problem I have is that about 10 years ago, my daughter bought
the ring (shown with no stone) in the same white turquoise, but the
stone fell apart into a zillion pieces. Actually, the stone in the
ring was very thin, about one mm at one end that I saw, and all the
material inside the bezel was a red lacquer. I’m not surprised that a
stone this thin would break out of a ring regardless of the type of
stone. Here is the picture:

My daughter, who dearly loves the ring, would like the stone
replaced. The settings are stamped by a Native American artist, “JP”.
The artist is John Ptero (John and Margaret), from somewhere in the
Durango, Colorado or Arizona area. The jewelry was purchased from Red
Canyon in Durango, Co. but staff there no longer knows how to contact
the artist. My daughter’s preference would be to return the ring to
the artist for stone replacement or exchange.

Can anyone help me find John Ptero? My daughter lives in Ft.
Collins, Co, so if he is anywhere in the Colorado, Arizona area, she
would be willing to drive to his location. Thanks in advance for
any help.


I don’t believe a white stone can be called turquoise as it does not
contain copper. Copper gives turquoise it blue color.

However it is not howlite. I have seen pure white stone that is as
hard as turquoise and polishes well. One dealer calls the white
stone he found pristine. It is a great stone if you need pure white.

There is another stone on the market that is white with spider web
purple matrix. It is beautiful if you like white and a purple matrix.

Both stones take a very nice polish.

Both stones can be seen at the Rodeway Inn in Tucson during the Feb

Lee Epperson

 I do have this right, don't I? I don't seem to have a book that
says, in so many words, that turquoise can't be white. Help? 

No, and I’m sure you don’t have a book which says it’s red or orange
or lavender or purple or any other color except some shade or
combination of blue and green either,because, by definition, it
doesn’t occur in any of those colors. There is no reason to
specifically state that turquoise is none of those colors because by
a definition accepted from ancient times it’s somewhere between an
intense blue and a yellow/green, which, as you state, is caused by
some combination of copper and iron. The people who are calling it
white turquoise are the same sort who came up with the “red emerald”
misnomer smoky “topaz” etc., etc.,etc…The references say what it
is, not what it isn’t.

Jerry in Kodiak

I’m betting that it’s Howlite. Howlite is white and often dyed to
imitate turquoise. I’ve even seen it referred to as “howlite


Nancy; This may not help, but the spelling is probably Platero.
There are families of silversmiths by the last name of Platero both
in Arizona, New Mexico, and at Acoma Pueblo. In Barton Wrights book
Hallmarks of The Southwest, there is a John Platero listed but
doesn’t show where he lives. Also, in Dr. Gregory Schaaf’s book
American Indian Jewelry I, there are several Platero’s listed but no
John or Margaret. You may find it easier to just locate a good
silversmith near you to replace the stone, than to find the original

best wishes,
John Barton

Continue from:

I would agree that for the most part there is no such thing, But I
also have two smaller cabs of the Original dry creek white turquoise
that do have miniscule spots of blue green tinge in a few small
areas. I also have several cabs and a few pieces of rough material
that are very near white , or at best a very pale near colorless
blue that I collected at the Cerillos Turquoise mines nearly 25
years ago. so very much of the mined Turquoise is so absent of color
that Eastman co makes special polyester resins with a blue or blue
green dye to “Enhance” the material so as to make it sellable and
cutable as well.

Getting back to the Dry Creek White Turquoise, it actually came from
the old played out Burnham mine in Northern Nevada; Burnham produced
some of the most beautiful Turquoise mined in the US. as did the
Landers property and Fox.

I used to buy from a dealer in Rio Rancho New Mexico whose name was
Eddie Mauzie, who had tests run by a laboratory that verified that
the material was in fact a copper phosphate compound which would
seem to qualify it as a Turquoise.

Now there are two new contenders one called White Buffalo which is
quite different in both color and hardness of the Dry Creek/ Burnham
material it has a more vitreous luster and seems slightly harder
more in the range of 5+ MOH and the newer White Horse which is the
material that does show nice spiderweb patterns. It is actually
Magnasite and still selling as a White Turquoise hardness will be
between 4 and 5 MOH

My experiences are not that of an expert, I started cutting
Turquoise in 1975 and was helping stabilize every thing from
Howellite treated in a vacuum chamber with Tydee bowl to getting
some of the last Landers red web that came out of the hole.

If some one had access to an accurate way of accessing the true
physical properties of the material I would put up a piece of the
Dry Creek just to see whether it was in fact Turquoise, although it
would be a moot point, that material to is now extinct I have dealt
with some of the largest Turquoise dealers in the southwest, one
thing I learned many years ago, what they aren’t sure of is what
they will swear to.

That doesn’t necessarily make them dishonest, but it doesn=92t imbue
their credibility either.

The late Bozo Quinn was sitting in a bar one evening in Tucson and a
bit on the tipsy side when he heard of some gentlemen from the mid
east that were hitting Gallup and Flagstaff with some killer prices
on so so Persian Turquoise. if I remember right it was around .30
per carat, as the night and the drinks laid on Mr. Quinn, headed for
Flagstaff with a close to 100 lbs. of great material from Globe,
which he was normally selling for .20 to .35 for the best natural "
in those days Natural meant it wasn’t dyed howellite" or stabilized.
Waxed and wiped with India Ink was a different story different. He
also had some of the prettiest green material I’ve ever seen, he
said it was Sadie Green Turquoise, and was selling every thing at
.20 a carat. Still feeling no severe pain.

Long story short but the twenty cent a carat Sadie Green Turquoise
turned out to be a Very rare material called Faustite, I found this
out when it cost me a perfect score at the California State Fair in
1980 - 5 points for miss labeling. I’d labeled the ring as Gold with

Oh Well live and hope we learn
Ken Ferrell
Jete, deplace, et demode-


You say you’re not a turquoise expert, but if your thirty years
experience don’t qualify you as such, I don’t know what would!

Jerry in Kodiak

Indian Jewelers Supply sells cabs of two varieties of something
called magnesite - one is white with dark veining, and the other (the
“Wild Horse Magnesite”) is white with patches of brownish or pinkish
coloration and dark veining. The texture of the veining is very
different from that of howlite; it reminds me a bit of head cheese!
IJS sells this stone and howlite as substitutes for white turquoise
for the “White Buffalo look.”

I know diddly about this stone, but I’d be keen to hear what the
G.G.'s here know of it.


Jessee Smith
Cincinnati, Ohio


Magnesite ( magnesium carbonate) is a realtively common mineral
which has many of the physical attributes of Turquoise except that
it is never green or blue in nature. It has a hardness of four, but
can sometimes be much harder through intimate association with
chalcedony. There are a number of locations in California where this
latter association is common. Many of these locales produce a
beautiful dark green chrysoprase with cauliflower like bunches of
magnesite…the net effect is unique and quite beautiful. In
Australia there is also an occurence of this type which is even more
beautiful inasmuch as the snow white magnesite is surrounded by a
light bright green chrysoprase. In either locale it seems that the
magnesite has become indurated by the silica solutions and the
result is a stone which has both hardness and toughness…the
magnesite does not undercut when polishing !

Magnesite pebbles with black veining can also be used for display
purposes. I have several pounds of tumble polished magnesite which I
sometimes use as a background in displaying jewelry. It is very

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

P.S You may be walking on magnesite without knowing it…it is a
favorite for deck and balcony floors. In this form it is ground up
like cement and mixed with water.


While I am certainly no expert on the subject, I have a few leads
that you might wish to pursue. Years ago when “white Turquoise” hit
the market it created quite an upset among the mine owners. This
material from what I understand was picked up off the mine tailings
by a guy in Texas, who then began marketing it as white turquoise.
The owner of the Godber Burham Dry creek at that time was Larry and
Janet Everrett, who has since sold the mine to Bruce and Jerry Woods.

http://www.woodsturquoise.com The Everretts had the “white
turquoise” tested, basically the findings were that it was not
turquoise and was completely void of copper which gives turquoise
it’s coloring. This could be considered the precursor to turquoise.

I don’t know if this address is still good but you might be able to
contact the Everetts and get a copy of the testing

Everitt's Minerals & Gallery
54225 North Circl Dr
Idyllwild  20
CA  92549 20

Hope that helps

Unpatterned magnesite makes good intarsia material for tans.

Rose Alene McArthur


My understanding is that white turquoise is actually howlite (or
other white stones) saturated with black shoe polish. The polish
permanently affects the matrix.

Wish I had known that earlier. I bought a gorgeous cab some time
ago and paid a lot of money for it. Still have it.