Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Caring For Your Turquoise

By: Alan Eby

Hello Jewelry Enthusiasts,

In this article I will be talking about caring for the turquoise in your jewelry, so you will be able to keep it beautiful for years to come.

Turquoise is a semi-precious gem stone, that comes in a wide variety of blues and greens it is rather fragile. There are quite a few “enemies” of your turquoise, some obvious, others not so apparent. We hope you all will find it helpful or at least interesting.

The first, and most obvious, “enemy” of your turquoise is physical stress. If you wish to keep your turquoise in one piece avoid dropping it, or knocking it against any other objects as this could fracture or break the stone. Another stress to avoid is extreme temperatures. Most turquoise is both turquoise its self and the mother rock that turquoise is found in. The mother rock is usually referred to as matrix. In extreme temps the turquoise and the matrix will expand and contract at different speeds, often causing cracks in the stone.

Next lets look at jewelry cleaners. Due to the composition of turquoise, any liquid with a low pH (acids) will break down the stone. Most jewelry cleaners are slightly acidic and can attack the luster and/or the color of turquoise. Other items to avoid bringing your turquoise jewelry in contact with are sunscreen, hairspray, perfume, and some cosmetics. Even skin oils can often affect turquoise to a slight degree, usually changing the color over time.

If your turquoise jewelry comes in contact with any of these “enemies” it should be cleaned as soon as possible. To clean simply take a soft, damp, cloth and wipe off the surface of your turquoise. A good idea would be to make a habit of cleaning your jewelry whenever you take it off. This will take care of anything your turquoise came in contact with while you were wearing it.

Finally lets talk about storage. To ensure you keep your turquoise as long as possible in the state and color it is now in. You will want to store your jewelry in an airtight container and if possible store you pieces with turquoise in separate containers from your other jewelry. This will decrease the amount of chemicals that can affect your turquoise.

If you clean your turquoise regularly and store it in a container that it as airtight as possible, and avoid knocking it against anything. Than you should be able to keep your turquoise beautiful for a long time.

What is Turquoise?

By. Alan Eby

Hello Friends,

I'd like to take some time and talk about one of my favorite things, Turquoise!

Turquoise is one of the Earth's oldest known gemstones. It was used by the Egyptians and is mentioned in the Bible quite a few times. Turquoise is a blue/green copper mineral its measured between 5 and 6 on the MOHs hardness scale. This beautiful stone found current popularity in the 70's and 80's due to its use in Native American jewelry being made in Arizona and New Mexico.

For many reasons, less pricey alternatives to natural turquoise have been developed. Along with these, there have also been a few ways to treat poorer quality turquoise to make it usable. I hope that this column will be helpful for those of you who use turquoise in your art, and all those interested in this beautiful and ancient stone.

Very little of turquoise is actually usable, because of poor color or because weakness and/or fractures. This makes natural untreated stone very valuable. Due to these issues and turquoise’s increasing popularity in the 70's and 80's, treatments were developed so more of the stone could be used.

Natural Turquoise, is the turquoise that has a nice color and will hold up during cutting and polishing. Sometimes to protect the polish and luster of natural turquoise, the stone is waxed but other than that Natural should be just that. Natural turquoise will change color over time or in certain conditions.

Stabilization is a process in which weak stone is treated with a mixture of epoxy and resin. This takes an otherwise unusable stone and increases its ability to be cut and polished. A side effect of the stabilization is that the color of the stone will not change.

Enhanced turquoise is a common term for turquoise treated with the Zachery process. The Zachary process is the invention of an employee of R.H. & Co. named James E. Zachary. This process is a secret owned and copyrighted by the company. So while I cannot tell you exactly what they do, I can tell you that it darkens and strengthens the stone. Also the like with the stabilized turquoise the color won't change in enhanced turquoise.

These process are there to increase the value and usability of otherwise worthless rocks. In this economy many are looking for inexpensive alternatives to rather pricey items. One of these is turquoise jewelry. Magnacite is quickly becoming the most popular substitute for turquoise. Magnacite is naturally a white and brown, chalky stone, that takes dyes and a polish rather well. Its found in a wide variety of colors making it not just an alternative to turquoise but many other stones as well.

Reconstituted Turquoise, is stone flakes and chips compressed together with epoxy and sometimes dyed. Its generally a strong and easy to cut composition, it can be useful for carving as well.

Block is plastic mixed with some natural materials and dyed to imitate a large selection of semi-precious stones. Block usually comes in square pieces, and is very smooth. When its being sold its labeled along with the name of the stone its imitating. (example. Block Turquoise, Block Lapis, etc.)

These alternatives are not meant to fool the consumer but to be an economical alternative to a more expensive stone. Sometimes these imitations are sold as natural, sometimes because of a mistake, sometimes it can be dishonest.

I hope this column has been helpful to both artists and jewelry enthusiasts.