Home Knowledges Mystery of Turquoise: How to Distinguish Stabilized & Natural?

Mystery of Turquoise: How to Distinguish Stabilized & Natural?

by Madonna

Turquoise, with its captivating blue and green hues, has been cherished for centuries for its unique beauty. Whether you’re a jewelry enthusiast, a collector, or simply someone with an appreciation for the aesthetic appeal of turquoise, it’s essential to understand the distinction between stabilized and natural turquoise. In this article, we will delve into the world of turquoise, exploring its origin, properties, and the techniques used to stabilize it. We’ll also discuss how to tell if a piece of turquoise is natural or stabilized, equipping you with the knowledge to make informed choices when acquiring this exquisite gemstone.

I. The Allure of Turquoise

Turquoise is a semi-precious gemstone that has been cherished by various cultures throughout history. Its allure lies in its stunning color, which ranges from sky blue to deep green, often featuring intricate veining patterns. This gemstone has been used to create jewelry, adornments, and decorative art for thousands of years, with its popularity enduring to this day.


II. Turquoise’s Origin and Formation

To understand how to distinguish between stabilized and natural turquoise, it’s important to comprehend the gem’s origin and how it is formed. Turquoise primarily originates from arid regions and is typically found in association with copper deposits. It forms when water containing specific minerals interacts with porous rocks, creating a chemical reaction over time. This reaction results in the vibrant blue and green colors for which turquoise is known.


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III. Stabilized Turquoise: What is it?

Stabilized turquoise, as the name suggests, is a form of turquoise that has undergone stabilization processes to enhance its durability and appearance. These processes are often used to make turquoise more suitable for use in jewelry and other ornamental items. To stabilize turquoise, two common methods are employed:

1. Resin Impregnation

In this method, porous natural turquoise is soaked in a resin, which fills the tiny voids and pores within the stone. Once the resin hardens, it stabilizes the gem, making it more resistant to wear and tear.

2. Wax Coating

Another method involves coating the turquoise with a layer of wax, which provides a protective shield against damage and discoloration. This method is often used for enhancing the shine and luster of turquoise.

See Also: What is the Turquoise Crystal Good For: All You Need To Know

IV. How to Tell if Turquoise is Stabilized or Natural?

Distinguishing between stabilized and natural turquoise can be a challenging task, especially for the untrained eye. However, several characteristics and techniques can help you make an informed assessment:

1. Color Consistency

One of the first signs of stabilized turquoise is a consistent and even color. Natural turquoise often exhibits variations in color intensity due to the mineral impurities that create its unique character. Stabilized turquoise, on the other hand, tends to have a more uniform appearance.

2. Matrix Patterns

Matrix refers to the host rock or mineral veins that run through the turquoise. Natural turquoise often displays intricate and irregular matrix patterns, whereas stabilized turquoise may have a matrix that looks too regular or appears artificial.

3. Porosity

Natural turquoise is characterized by its porous nature, which is a result of its formation process. Stabilized turquoise, however, usually lacks this porosity because the stabilization process fills in the voids within the stone.

4. Weight and Density

Stabilized turquoise is generally denser than its natural counterpart. This difference in weight can sometimes be detected by holding a piece of turquoise and comparing it to known natural turquoise pieces.

5. Magnification and Surface Examination

A jeweler’s loupe or a magnifying glass can be invaluable tools when inspecting turquoise. Examine the surface of the gem closely for any signs of artificial coatings, such as wax or resin. These may appear as a shiny or waxy surface.

6. UV Light Test

The UV light test involves shining ultraviolet light on the turquoise. Stabilized turquoise may exhibit a different fluorescence pattern compared to natural turquoise. However, this method is not foolproof and should be used in conjunction with other techniques for a more accurate assessment.

7. Heating Test

A heating test can be used to differentiate between certain types of stabilized turquoise and natural turquoise. Some stabilization processes can break down under heat, causing the gem to change color. It’s essential to use caution with this test and consult a professional if in doubt.

8. Professional Appraisal

When in doubt about the authenticity of a turquoise piece, seeking the expertise of a certified gemologist or a reputable jeweler is highly recommended. These professionals have the knowledge and equipment to provide an accurate assessment.

V. Ethical Considerations

Aside from the technical aspects of distinguishing between stabilized and natural turquoise, it’s also important to consider the ethical implications of your purchase. The demand for natural turquoise has led to concerns about the depletion of natural deposits and illegal mining activities. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase turquoise from reputable sources that adhere to ethical mining and trading practices.

VI. Conclusion

Turquoise is a gemstone that has captured the hearts of many throughout history, and its desirability continues to this day. The distinction between stabilized and natural turquoise is crucial for both collectors and enthusiasts, as it affects the value, authenticity, and ethical considerations surrounding this precious stone.

By understanding the formation of turquoise, the techniques used to stabilize it, and the various methods to distinguish between natural and stabilized turquoise, you can make informed choices when acquiring turquoise jewelry or art pieces. Whether you’re looking to add a stunning piece of turquoise jewelry to your collection or invest in this timeless gem, knowledge is your most valuable asset when exploring the world of turquoise.

FAQs: How to Distinguish Between Stabilized and Natural Turquoise

Turquoise, with its captivating beauty, has been a cherished gemstone for centuries. Distinguishing between stabilized and natural turquoise can be a crucial factor for collectors, enthusiasts, and buyers. To provide a clearer understanding, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on how to distinguish between stabilized and natural turquoise:

Q1. Why is ethical consideration important when acquiring turquoise?

A1. Ethical considerations are important because the demand for natural turquoise has led to concerns about over-mining, depletion of natural deposits, and illegal mining activities. Purchasing turquoise from reputable sources that adhere to ethical mining and trading practices helps ensure sustainability and supports responsible business practices.

Q2. Are there any well-known sources of stabilized or natural turquoise?

A2. Both stabilized and natural turquoise can be found from various sources around the world. Natural turquoise is often associated with mines in regions like the southwestern United States (e.g., Arizona and New Mexico), Iran, and China. Stabilized turquoise is commonly used in commercial jewelry and art production and may be sourced from different regions based on availability and demand.

Q3. Can a piece of turquoise be both stabilized and natural?

A3. In some cases, a piece of turquoise may be partially stabilized and partially natural. For instance, a stone could have a wax or resin coating applied to enhance its appearance while still retaining some of its natural characteristics. Such hybrid treatments can make identification more challenging and may require professional expertise.


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