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Yellow Turquoise

The Turquoise Group .Turquoise identification and nomenclature is
compounded by several problems. Turquoise is part of a group of 3
minerals ( Hydrous Aluminum Phosphate and a solid solution of [
Copper - Turquoise ], [ Iron - Variscite ], [ Zinc - Faustite ] .

So Turquoise can be a chemical solid solution containing Copper,
Iron, and Zinc in varying amounts . The Hydrous Aluminum Phosphate
allows substitution of some of the ( Copper and/or Iron and/or
Zinc ) .

Variscite may be interspersed with other phosphate minerals - (
Crandallite, Wardite, Gordonite, and Hydroxylapite )

If this is not confusing enough, there are several other minerals
Prosopite, and Howite are used as substitutes , with and without

Stabilized Turquoise, Treated Turquoise, Reconstituted Turquoise,
and Imitation Turquoise, are all separate considerations which add
to the confusion.

Faustite is yellow - apple green colored stone.
Variscite is yellow - green to blue green.

A retired lapidary dealer from Farmington N.M. told me that if it
would cut and polish, was moderately durable, and in demand, it was
likely sold as turquoise.

Gemstones of North America Vol 1 - John Sinkansas. *
Gem and Lapidary Materials - June Culp Zitner *
Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones - Joel E. Arem *
Gemology II edition - Hurlbut & Kammerling **
Dana’s Mineralogy IV edition - E.S. Dana

  • in print or easily available, ** in print but expensive,
    Google does not have all these subjects treated well , if at all.

You expected an easy answer about a gemstone , used from earliest
times, available world wide, has such variety and is still so much
in demand ? It is my favorite gemstone.


    Nope.  And I couldn't afford them if there were any.  I live
100 miles from the nearest city of any decent size, in the Ozarks. 

Wow, this post and the one from Dawn in Texas are reminding me what
a strange place I live in. I’m in the Chicago (Illinois, USA) area
and live within 30 minutes of any chain store known in the US. A
friend lives within 10 minutes of the same kinds stores, including
IKEA. Plus all the local stores.

I can get anything I want, sometimes 24 hours a day.

I can get slide film processed in three hours.

~Elaine, drunk on the possibilities!

Seriously though, thanks for reminding me to appreciate what I have.

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

    I have the impression that Fire Mountain has become less
reliable over the last couple of years. They carry so much junk now
that I've almost given up looking at their catalog--it gives me a

Me, too. I just gave my copy of their catalog to my mother the other
day. That’ll keep her busy for a while!

    On the other hand, I have never had any reason to suspect that
Rio sold me anything that wasn't what they said it was. 

Since I’ve mentioned Rio in this thread in a slightly negative light
regarding gemstone misnomers, I’d like to make something clear.
While they do list a few misnomers in their Gems & Findings catalog,
the they provide on some of their gemstones is
considerable. Some items even have gemological such as
moh’s hardness, refractive index, specific gravity, etc. They even
explain what some of the terms mean. I believe all of their natural
gemstones have treatment, or enhancement disclosures, as well.

The other thing besides misnomers I railed at a bit is the "A-Grade"
or “AA-Grade” type of description. It’s the same sort of thing that
FMG uses, with their “C” and “D” grades. It’s too subjective of a
system to give a universally understood idea of what you get when
ordering. This may well be at the root of the quality control issue
that has been mentioned. Apart from that, I think Rio Grande does a
splendid job of describing their gem materials, especially with
treatment disclosures.

Also, while I’ve never ordered a gemstone from Rio, I’ve bought a
fair deal of metals and tools from them over the years, including my
bench. I’ve never had to return a thing.

James in SoFl

Years ago, when I first started working with silver, I got FMG
catalogs, and I swear I don’t remember them being this junky, not by
a long shot! The final straw for me was the several pages of some
cheap stone that was marked “dyed” - “Not permanent dye”.

So if you’re silly enough to use this stuff, its going to bleed all
over the customer.

I think not…


You are not alone with your evaluation of Fire Mountain. I took
exception to the fanciful naming of “yellow” stones. there was no
truth in disclosure. I contacted them directly to no avail. I
suggested they remove me from their mailing list. I recently
received their latest large catalog and have not bothered to open

I spoke with the Art Clay people who mentioned Fire Mountain as a
good source, and let them know I will not patronize them. They said
they understood changes were being made. I do not see them.

I agree with you, we need more valid reviews of gemstone bead
sellers. Integrity should be rewarded by exposure. I know many rock
and mineral clubs have lapidary material for sale that was self
collected and polished by club members. No deception there.


I bought some stuff from Fire Mountain two years ago and have
decided not to use them any more. Interestingly, I bought three
strands of “yellow turquoise” from them, but when the stones arrived,
I realized that two of three strands were stone but the third looked
like it had been made out of plastic with none of the markings that
the other two strands had. It was a smooth, uniform yellowish green.
I also bought some red jasper from them which looked fake to me.
These were the reasons why I stopped buying stuff from them.

Gloria F

I, too, share everyone’s concern about fanciful naming of stones,
yellow and otherwise, but while Fire Mountain may be less than
forthcoming about accurate nomenclature, they are not alone. I just
returned from Tucson where it seemed the majority of vendors were
selling stones with misleading names. So let’s be fair and not tar
any one vendor unfairly.

We all know that a smart buyer is wary but I think we also need some
regulated standards. This exists in other industries. After all, if
I buy cow’s milk, I can be pretty sure it isn’t goat milk, and I’m
not worried that the pine I just bought for a new deck might be some
other wood.


     You are not alone with your evaluation of Fire Mountain. 

I got the Big Catolog the other day, and they do actually print on
those pages what the Red “malachite” actually is (red banded
jasper). I don’t know about some of the other questionable items.

But since they don’t choose to be equally forthcoming on their
website, in their smaller catalogs, and via e-mail, I just don’t
want to bother.



There are laws that protect buyers from blatant misrepresentation.

It is against the law to sell a gemstone with a misleading name (
example: Topaz Quartz ) Since Topaz and Quartz are two separate
Gemstones the term Topaz is being used to enhance the gemstone
Citrine Quartz actually being offered and make it seem more

There are many gemstones on the market that are offered with
misleading names and you should make a point to avoid all dealers
that make a practice of selling this way.

First you should educate yourself about the products you are selling
( become a Gemologist ). There is no excuse in the eye of the law
for ignorance if you should pass on a misidentified gemstone to a

Second you should confront the dealer that is selling gemstones with
misleading terms to make sure they understand that they are doing a
injustice to themselves and their clients.

Third you should contact the FTC as well as some of the trade groups
such as AGTA to alert them of the problem.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark
Longmont, Colorado
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry

Dear Beverly,

In your analogy about standardization you brought up the issue of
not having to worry about the pine wood that you got for your new
deck. Actually, I wonder if you know how to distinguish amongst the
many woods that are thrown into the category of kiln dried white
woods ? Here in California the aforementioned category is apt to be
comprised of just about any white softwood that is harvested on the
west coast. One of the commonest varieties is white fir and it is a
lousy choice for just about anything. It is warp prone, mildews
easily, doesn’t hold paint well, is prone to insect damage and rots
easily. It also doesn’t hold nails well and has low structural
strength. It is sold right along with pine and spruce and many an
unsuspecting buyer has walked away with it thinking that he has a
quality wood. The only time I ever buy the stuff is when it has been
pressure treated with chemicals that make it rot and insect
resistant. Unfortunately the rules that apply to various grading
systems are often corrupted by special interest groups so as to give
advantage to their members. It is always the same old
shtuck…let the buyer beware !

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

Hi, Sojourner.

I Googled nomenclature (naming) and searched within the results for
"minerals, gems". This site looked helpful:

There is also a link on this site to common trade names for

I have no connection (besides Google) to this site, but there seems
to be extensive on these pages about common names and
misnomers of materials which might be used in beads - I didn’t see
"red malachite" or “malachite, red”.

Unfortunately, describing specific bead materials doesn’t seem to
follow through too well on those shopping pages that I saw at this
site. He does, however, have an extensive list of links to sites
which may be helpful in other ways. Some list catalogs, sources,
have message/exchange lists, etc.

Good luck to you.

Pam Chott

Thanks for the URLs, I guess it just takes knowing what terms to
google, which I sure didn’t.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and it occurred to me
just today that years and years ago (1975 to be precise) I bought a
"Honey Topaz" ring. (Actually it was SUPPOSED to be a graduation
present, but my mom put it on layaway for $10 and then I had to pay
it off myself, so really I ended up buying it for myself).

It was a beautiful stone, a lovely golden color with no inclusions
visible to the eye, probably about 12mm or 14 mm. I paid $100 total
for it in 1975/1976.

Years later I had it appraised, and the jeweler almost snarled at me
over it. Since I had been told it was a “honey topaz” I assumed
that’s what it was, but apparently it was “just” a citrine (and
therefore worth only this jeweler’s curled lip, apparently). In
fact it was appraised 10 years later at about the same amount that I
had originally paid for it, and the jeweler at the time claimed that
had it been a “genuine Honey Topaz” it would have been a “$10,000

Oddly enough, the only time I come across the term “honey topaz” at
all these days is in regard to obviously fake non-natural beads and
what not, such as the "Honey Topaz Amber Flower Spacer Glass Beads"
I found on e-bay. (And I have to wonder if they couldn’t have
crammed a couple more buzz words into that description)

Apparently “honey topaz” was historically applied to darker
citrines, and (as far as I can tell and I count on you guys to
correct me if I’m wrong) there’s NEVER been a “genuine Honey Topaz”.
There is an “Imperial Topaz”, but its my understanding that that
should have a pink or orange tone, and this stone had nothing like
that, it was just a very nice golden honey color.

In any case, I guess the point I’m trying to make is, it would
appear that not only did the original jeweler rip me off for the
"honey topaz" citrine that even today (30 years later) wouldn’t cost
more than about $20 tops in that size, but the second jeweler I took
it to to have it appraised 10 years later was also handing me a line
of guff - Imperial Topaz, which is the closest thing I can guess
might have been equated to “genuine Honey Topaz”, while quite
expensive enough at $1500 to $2k in that size, would still not have
qualifed that ring as a “$10,000 ring” even today, let alone 20 years

I loved the ring, don’t get me wrong (it was stolen in a burglary
when I was living in Puerto Rico) but there’s no way my mother (or I)
would have paid $100 in 1976-money for a citrine instead of a topaz.

So I guess it’s important to me that I NEVER, even inadvertently,
sell a customer something that it isn’t. I don’t want to get into
the disappointment business.


PS - BTW, this same hometown jeweler also made pretty durn good
money selling my mother an assortment of “smoky topaz” items for
major bucks (at least back then) when it was really just another kind
of quartz. It’s a good thing he’s dead by now or I might have had a
thing or two to say to him…

    and (as far as I can tell and I count on you guys to correct me
if I'm wrong) there's NEVER been a "genuine Honey Topaz". There is
an "Imperial Topaz" 

Yes, exactly.

    So I guess it's important to me that I NEVER, even
inadvertently, sell a customer something that it isn't.  I don't
want to get into the disappointment business. 

ZS, I admire your attitude about this subject, and I’m certain
you’ll acquire all the knowledge you need. You’ve done quite well so
far. Learn as you go, and stick to what you know. Expand your
choices and offerings as you expand your knowledge. With this
attitude, you are well trusted and admired.

    PS - BTW, this same hometown jeweler also made pretty durn
good money selling my mother an assortment of "smoky topaz" items
for major bucks (at least back then) when it was really just
another kind of quartz. 

Yep, “smoky topaz” is actually smoky quartz, and very much a similar
misnomer as “honey topaz.” You’ll come across plenty more as you go.
In fact, topaz vs. quartz was discussed here very recently. that
thread began here:

All the best,
James in SoFl