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Zachery Treated vs Natural Turquoise


Thanks for your input on this method of turquoise treatment. I find
the Zachery treatment to be very intriguing. I never knew about it
until recently and I think it remains largely unknown.

Question to all Orchid members:

Do you think natural high quality Sleeping Beauty turquoise that has
the potential to absorb oils / liquids is more or less valuable than
similar quality Zachery treated turquoise from the same locale ?

(The Zachery treated turquoise contains no resins or dyes, is darker
blue, better sealed and thus has a lower chance of absorbing oils /
liquids with resultant color change.)

Please post your opinions. Thank you.

Steve Green
Rough and Ready Gems
Gem Briolettes, Drops and Ultrasonic Drilling

    Do you think natural high quality Sleeping Beauty turquoise
that has the potential to absorb oils / liquids is more or less
valuable than similar quality Zachery treated turquoise from the
same locale ? 

This issue always depends on two things: 1, who is buying, and 2,
who is selling. Well, actually, there is a third, but it doesn’t
apply to Sleeping Beauty, and that is: does it REQUIRE treatment to
be an acceptable gem material? Examples would be blue topaz,
tanzanite, Mong Hsu ruby, etc. Most of these, and many other gem
materials are always treated.

Some buyers view natural, untreated gemstones as the most rare, and
therefore most valuable. Others view the added stability and
improved color as a value addition, along with the cost of
treatment. It depends entirely on that buyer’s viewpoint, and many
argue their position vehemently (and I’m betting that’ll happen in
this thread before it’s all over).

A good salesperson will make an airtight argument either way. The
best ones can get a customer to believe that any enhanced gemstone
was treated “to finish what nature would have done” to bring out the
color/stability that their product has, and that treatment has
greatly increased its value. That same salesperson will also take
advantage of the elitist customer whose discriminating taste
requires “a gemstone that is naturally perfect, with no artificial
enhancement by the hand of man” and will sell it for a premium.

I know just such a person, who, in my opinion, ruins perfectly good
(however weak the play-of-color is), solid opal by gluing it to
practically any dark mineral to darken the base color and brighten
its play-of-color. You should hear his pitch about how well-improved
his opals are as he drops one on the table from six inches, or so,
telling the client that it is “so much stronger now, and will never
crack, as so many do.” This man will take fifteen dollars worth of
material, epoxy it together, polish it and sell it for a thousand.
In some ways, I despise what he does, but I envy his payday.

I realize the above paragraph says nothing about turquoise, but it
illustrates my point about sales technique.

Oops, I forgot to answer the question of whether I think natural
Sleeping Beauty turquoise is more valuable than treated. Yeah, I do.
I don’t care if it may absorb oils, is less stable, etc. I guess I’m
an “elitist with discriminating taste” But, I’m also a gemologist
who tries to collect examples of EVERYTHING. Which is more valuable
matters far less to me than being able to observe the difference, if
that makes sense. All I want are examples of every gem material in
existence that display all of the observable characteristics that
gemologists use to separate gems for identification. Is that asking
too much? (BTW, that’s a rhetorical question).

James in SoFl

I’m a long-time lurker and never-poster, but I’ve got to weigh in on

I adore turquoise, and personally think that the ability to absorb
oils is one of its intriguing features. It’s like pearls; they take
on the character of their owner. Turquoise does the same, and the
patina of the years is just part of its character.

Of course, I like my turquoise very grungy, discolored, and
imperfect. But not yellow.

Jacquie Spetz
Beginning silversmith and glass beadmaker
in balmy (gonna be in the 40s again today) Bozeman,MT

How to define valuable, I do kow that the natural SB is less
expensive than the enhanced. I sell both, I sell the enhanced because
it is a look which is more East Coast, or German in my opinion and
that is to say more high fashion than any other part ot the turquoise
trade. Even though matrix stone such as #8 Spider Web (and I as
sometimes purist use this only to define #8 SPider Web Turquoise from
the #8 mine in Nevada) has been sold by me for $90 plus a carat and I
could never get that from any SB. On the other hand any natural stone
has more value because it is more rare than any enhanced or treated
material and I think this way only in the long run. Years form now,
maybe decades after I am gone the natural will be colored changed and
wierd looking but it will still be natural. When I look at old Navajo
jewelry or even of my own grandfather’s and all it had was natural
stone, I LOVE it more than I think I would if enhanced was
substituted. This is what makes me tend toward the natural when I
make my one of work. I have used enhanced in one of and use it for
the high fashion. I Rarely use natural in production work because
natural SB will change so quickly and is not often found in
calibrated stones. Calibrated is absolutely necessary for most of my
production because if it’s consitant size and shape. Also the
production work I do is more aimed at the high fashion silver market,
if there is such a thing.

Sam Patania, Tucson

There is the medicinal aspect to the question of turquoise absorbing

As I understand it, Tibetans wear turquoise until it turns color and
then dispose of it. They believe it absorbs noxious things from
one’s body.

Not being Tibetan, I have no personal experience in this area.


I bought two Tibetian turquoise nugets about the sixe of the first
nuckle of my middle finger ftom a tibet Hill man in DIbrigard India
about 50 years ago. they were strung onto a dirty piecr of string
and were hyng around his necl. I tried to communicate with hin as I
didn’t speak tibet so I asked a small Irish man that came by if he
knew the language and he sait he did. He bargened for me about 10 to
20 minutes for the turquoise and finely decided to sell the two
stones on the string and two smaller stones hung on string and ran
through each of his ear lobes.

I think I paid him 50 rupies for the 4 stones and at that moment I
asked him if he would sell me his Gerker Knife and another 10 to 20
minutes of hagiling price. I finally bought the stones and the knife
for 50 rupies which was worth about .32 penies american money.

The next thing that hapened I asked the Ireshman to ask the tibetian
if I could cut the ea strings and the neck string with the Girker
knife and He backed off and said no. I told the Tibetian that I came
from a area in the U.S.A. that was mountaines and I would be real
careful in cuting the string and I offered hin another 25 rupies and
he then said O.K. I did the cuting and he took his money and I
thanked him.

The Knife was mand made and had a crude Ivory handle which was
crudly made and the blade had a small crack in it.I still have the
Knife and two of the large turquoise and the two little ones I gave
to my Sister in law… The turquoise is stell nicely colered the color
is on the blue to green color with a lot of spitering

I do have a large piece of Persian Turquoise which I bought years
ago at a indian show in L.A for about $250.00 iti is about 60mm long
&40mm wide and shaped tear drom and about 10mm thick . It has
beautiful deep blue color and I Really don’t know how much it is

Billy S. Bates

I have a piece of pilot mountain turquoise, mined out in the early
60’s. I have been wearing this piece for over twenty years and it
has little color change. It is 18 karat stone and beautiful spider
web matrix. I was told by an old Indian jeweler that it was one of
the finest pieces he had ever seen! It’s harder than nails and is
now in it third home as I have worn the others away. Peace, have a
great day, God bless

PS I would never use stabilized!!!

Hi Steve,

It was good to meet you and your incredible briolettes in Tucson.
Looking forward to receiving my order!

As for the Sleeping Beauty turquoise… In my opinion, the untreated
turquoise in this case would have more value, because it’s untreated

  • but this is coming from someone who doesn’t mind turquoise’s
    change in color and thinks it’s just as, if not more, beautiful.

If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say the way I see it in general,
if you have 2 identical strands except that one is treated and one
is not, AND they’re both beautiful, then I would always opt for the
untreated one. BUT since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I
think it’s equally valid for the person who values the original blue
color to believe that the treated one has more value. (So then we
get into that sticky “value” question.)

Hmmm, maybe I should’ve been a politician…