Home Turquoise [Revealed!] Where Does the Word “Turquoise” Come From?

[Revealed!] Where Does the Word “Turquoise” Come From?

by Madonna

The word “turquoise” conjures images of a vibrant blue-green gemstone that has fascinated cultures across the globe for centuries. This captivating gemstone, prized for its stunning color and cultural significance, derives its name from a rich history intertwined with the evolution of language and trade. In this article, we will delve into the origins and etymology of the word “turquoise” to uncover its fascinating journey through time.

Turquoise: A Gem of Timeless Beauty

Before we explore the linguistic journey of the word “turquoise,” let’s take a moment to appreciate the gemstone itself.


1. Turquoise as a Gemstone:

Turquoise is a phosphate mineral with a chemical composition of copper aluminum phosphate. Its striking blue-green color ranges from sky blue to greenish blue, often resembling the hues of tropical waters. The gemstone is treasured for its unique and captivating appearance.


2. Cultural Significance:

Turquoise has held deep cultural and spiritual significance for numerous civilizations throughout history. It has been used in jewelry, amulets, and religious artifacts. Different cultures attribute various qualities to turquoise, including protection, healing, and wisdom.


3. Geological Formation:

Turquoise is primarily formed in arid and semi-arid regions through a complex process involving the interaction of copper-rich water with porous rocks like basalt or sandstone. These geological conditions contribute to its scarcity and value.

See Also: What Is the Turquoise Crystal Called: All You Need To Know

The Etymology of “Turquoise”

The word “turquoise” has a rich and intricate etymology that reflects its long history of trade and cultural exchange. The term has evolved over time and has connections to multiple languages and cultures.

1. Ancient Origins: “Pierre turque”

The word “turquoise” can be traced back to the Old French phrase “pierre turque,” which translates to “Turkish stone” or “stone from Turkey.” This initial association with Turkey is not accidental but rather reflects the historical routes through which turquoise gemstones were traded and transported.

2. Trade Routes and Turquoise

Turquoise has been mined in various parts of the world, including Persia (modern-day Iran), Egypt, and the American Southwest. However, the gemstone’s journey along ancient trade routes played a pivotal role in shaping its name.

a. The Silk Road: One of the most famous trade routes in history, the Silk Road, facilitated the exchange of goods, cultures, and languages across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Turquoise was among the commodities traded along these routes.

b. Turquoise from Persia: During the Middle Ages, Persian turquoise was highly sought after in Europe and other regions. It was imported via trade routes that passed through Turkey. This association with the gemstone’s route of trade likely contributed to the term “Turkish stone.”

3. The Influence of Turquoise Mines

Different sources of turquoise were known by various names, further complicating the etymology of the word. For example:

Persian turquoise was called “Pirouzeh” in Persian.

Tibetan turquoise was referred to as “Nepalese turquoise.”

Native American turquoise from the American Southwest had its own regional names.

4. “Turquoise” in English

The word “turquoise” found its way into the English language in the 16th century, likely through French and Spanish influences. As trade and exploration expanded, the gemstone’s name became standardized in various languages.

The Multilingual Journey of “Turquoise”

The word “turquoise” is a testament to the multilingual nature of gemstone trade and cultural exchange. Its journey through different languages reflects the diverse sources of turquoise and the historical trade routes that connected civilizations. Here are some examples of how “turquoise” is expressed in various languages:

  • French: “Turquoise”
  • Spanish: “Turquesa”
  • Italian: “Turchese”
  • German: “Türkis”
  • Russian: “Турквенит” (Turquenite)

In each of these languages, the word “turquoise” retains its connection to the gemstone’s historical association with Turkey and trade routes.

See Also: Yellow Turquoise: Uncover Origins, Composition and Significance

Turquoise in Different Cultures

Turquoise has held unique cultural significance in various parts of the world, further enhancing its rich history and etymology.

1. Persian Turquoise: “Pirouzeh”

In Persian culture, turquoise has been cherished for centuries. It was known as “Pirouzeh,” meaning “victory” or “triumph,” and was believed to bring good fortune and protection. Persian turquoise has a distinct shade and is highly regarded for its quality and historical significance.

2. Native American Turquoise

Turquoise has been an integral part of Native American culture, particularly among tribes in the American Southwest. It is often used in jewelry, pottery, and religious ceremonies. Each tribe has its unique style and symbolism associated with turquoise.

3. Tibetan Turquoise: “Nepalese Turquoise”

Tibetan turquoise, sometimes referred to as “Nepalese turquoise” due to its trade routes, holds spiritual significance in Tibetan Buddhism. It is used in religious artifacts, jewelry, and as a symbol of protection and wisdom.

4. Egyptian Turquoise

Ancient Egyptians used turquoise extensively in their jewelry and burial ornaments. It was associated with protection, health, and prosperity. Some of the most famous turquoise artifacts, such as the burial mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, showcase its enduring allure.

Scientific and Metaphysical Properties of Turquoise

Beyond its linguistic journey and cultural significance, turquoise is also celebrated for its scientific and metaphysical properties.

1. Metaphysical Beliefs

In metaphysical and New Age beliefs, turquoise is associated with:

Communication: Turquoise is believed to enhance communication skills and help express one’s thoughts and emotions more effectively.

Protection: It is considered a protective stone that wards off negative energies and promotes overall well-being.

Balance: Turquoise is thought to balance emotions, increase inner calm, and promote spiritual growth.

2. Scientific Properties

Turquoise is valued not only for its beauty but also for its scientific properties:

Copper Content: The blue-green color of turquoise is attributed to the presence of copper ions in its crystal structure.

Phosphate Mineral: Turquoise is a phosphate mineral, which makes it relatively rare in the mineral world.

Stability: While turquoise is relatively stable, it can be sensitive to temperature changes, chemicals, and sunlight, so proper care is essential.

Turquoise in Contemporary Jewelry and Fashion

Turquoise continues to be a popular choice in contemporary jewelry and fashion. Its vibrant color complements a wide range of styles, from bohemian to modern, and it is often used in rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

1. Turquoise Jewelry

Turquoise jewelry remains a timeless and versatile accessory. It can be found in both traditional and contemporary designs, making it a favorite among jewelry enthusiasts worldwide.

2. Fashion Trends

Turquoise has made its way into various fashion trends, including clothing, handbags, and accessories. Its eye-catching color adds a touch of vibrancy to any ensemble.

3. Spiritual and Wellness Jewelry

Many people seek out turquoise jewelry not only for its aesthetic appeal but also for its perceived spiritual and wellness benefits. It is often incorporated into pieces designed to enhance specific qualities or promote well-being.


The word “turquoise” carries with it a rich history of trade, cultural exchange, and linguistic evolution. Its journey through time reflects the gemstone’s enduring allure and cultural significance. Whether cherished for its vibrant color, metaphysical properties, or cultural heritage, turquoise continues to captivate individuals around the world. Its timeless beauty serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of human history and the enduring appeal of nature’s treasures.


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