With its distinctive patterns and striking color variety reminiscent of tropical seas, turquoise is one of those timeless gemstones almost everyone wants in their collection. Egyptians adorned their temples and themselves with turquoise gemstones. South American tribes half a world away brought their mosaics to life with its lively coloring. Today, this greenish-blue stone is still beloved not only for its physical beauty but also for its spiritual power.
Let’s explore what turquoise is, how it’s been used throughout the ages, and how you can use its metaphysical properties to enrich your life.
What Is Turquoise?
Turquoise is a gemstone that forms in mostly arid climates. When rainfall trickles through the rocks and soil in the ground, it dissolves some of the copper naturally present. Once it’s traveled through the earth as far as it can, and the water evaporates, the copper combines with aluminum and phosphorus in the soil. Tiny deposits of natural turquoise begin to form in the earth, on its host rock.
Depending on the circumstances, turquoise can completely overtake its host rock, resulting in a piece of turquoise with overall uniform coloring. On the flip side, when turquoise doesn’t transform its host rock, it creates black or brown patches you sometimes see in turquoise gemstones. These often resemble a spiderweb and are referred to as its matrix.
Howlite and magnesite are two minerals that have similar markings and are occasionally dyed in an attempt to pass them off as natural blue turquoise. Other stones that are sometimes misidentified as turquoise include variscite and chalcosiderite.
The color variation in turquoise stones depends on the amount of iron or zinc present in the mineral itself. As a result, turquoise gemstones come in several beautiful shades of blue, blue-green, and even yellowish-green. Robin’s egg blue and sky blue are the most prized shades. Once the turquoise is shaped and polished, it tends to have more of a waxy finish rather than a glassy one.
Where to Find Natural Turquoise
Deposits of natural turquoise can be found around the world. Ancient people in Africa, Asia, and North and South America have enjoyed its beauty since ancient times. Today, most mined turquoise comes from deposits in the United States (mainly Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico), Chile, China, Egypt, Iran, and Mexico. Much of the turquoise mined in the U.S. is a byproduct of copper mining.
Regional deposits of turquoise can create particularly unique gemstones. For example, in Arizona, four turquoise mines all produce different colored stones. Turquoise gemstones collected from the Sleeping Beauty mine are usually light blue without any black or brown webbing patterns.
In contrast, gems from the Kingman mine are often a bright and vibrant blue with a black matrix. In the Morenci mine, turquoise gemstones are dark blue with ribbons of pyrite swirling through it. And yet, stones from the Bisbee mine tend to produce stones with chocolate brown webbing.
Turquoise Throughout History
People throughout history have valued gemstones for their beauty and healing properties, and turquoise is no exception. Turquoise's history dates back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, where it was cherished and beloved. Egyptians mined their high-quality turquoise from deposits on the Sinai Peninsula, which were exhausted of their supply centuries ago.
Pieces of turquoise have been discovered in tombs dating as far back as 5000 BCE. Burial sites in Giza held treasures of bracelets and broad collars with turquoise beads. It wasn't unusual to find turquoise gemstones alongside lapis lazuli and carnelian in Egyptian jewelry. Interestingly, pieces with matching stones were rare. Most of the time, there was quite a bit of color variation, ranging from greenish blue to nearly yellow. In addition to creating jewelry, Egyptians carved turquoise gemstones into small figurines and amulets.
The gemstone's popularity didn't wane when the sun eventually set on the Egyptian empire. According to Athena Perrakis' book, "Crystal: Lore, Legends & Myths," the 17th-century emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, requested a turquoise-encrusted peacock throne for his ascension.
In North America, turquoise gemstones were used by Native American tribes more than 2,000 years ago. Much like the Egyptians, tribes such as the Navajo carved turquoise into sculptures and turquoise cabochons or beads for jewelry and other inlay work. During the 1800s, Native Americans began using silver in their jewelry making, which gave rise to the designs we commonly associate with blue turquoise jewelry.
Central American tribes like the Aztecs may have traded with North American tribes for turquoise gemstones. Scientists have found evidence to suggest the bluish-green turquoise used in ancient temple mosaics and other artwork came as a result of turquoise mining in their local region.
Healing Properties of Turquoise
Turquoise’s healing properties and supportive energies can assist you in several areas of your life. Here's how you can use turquoise crystals to connect to your chakras, shake off the doldrums, and defend yourself from negativity.
Revitalize Your Chakra System
Whether you want to harmonize the energy of your entire chakra system or work with a specific chakra, the healing powers of turquoise could be what you need.
Turquoise’s soothing blue color helps you connect and fortify your throat chakra. Maybe you’re dreading an upcoming presentation or public speaking event, or perhaps you want to improve the way you communicate in your relationships.
Slipping a turquoise beaded bracelet on your wrist can help you speak with greater clarity and grace. It can also support you to feel more confident expressing your authentic self. Consider combining your turquoise healing crystal with aquamarine if you feel as though your throat chakra could use extra help.
If you’re more interested in giving yourself a dose of overall chakra healing, mix turquoise healing crystals with other gemstones to support specific chakras. To keep the energy of your third eye chakra flowing, pick up a chakra bracelet with lapis lazuli, apatite, or labradorite. These gemstones are exceptionally beneficial in clearing blockages.
To amplify the healing properties of turquoise, pair it with a malachite gemstone. You’ll be supporting your heart chakra and keeping the energy flowing. Remember to let your intuition guide you in choosing the right chakra stones for your unique situation.
Cultivate a Sunnier Outlook
Turquoise is an excellent healing crystal when you want to bring more positivity and optimism into your life. If you're hoping to avoid the occasional mood swing and want to feel happier overall, turquoise can improve your well-being and encourage a more cheerful attitude. Using the crystal healing magic of turquoise can soothe your mind and give you energy for creative problem-solving or thinking outside the box.
Maybe you’re looking to attract some good fortune in the form of new friendships or romantic love into your life. Pick up a turquoise gemstone bracelet to channel its bright energy. With a joyous disposition, you’ll feel more self-assured and at ease with yourself. What better way to attract the right relationships into your life than through self-acceptance? When you love and embrace who you are, you naturally extend that to others.
Shield Yourself from Negativity
Turquoise is cherished as a protection stone. Turquoise's positive and healing capabilities protect the wearer from negative energy. This makes turquoise a superb choice to wear or take with you on a road trip, plane ride, or even going about your daily activities. Whenever you want to feel cocooned in a shield of protection, tuck a piece of turquoise stone in your pocket.
Whether you want to ward off negativity from those around you or protect yourself from potential mishaps, turquoise can help. You can enhance turquoise's protective healing energies by pairing it with other gemstones. Black obsidian, black agate, or tiger's eye are all highly protective stones. They can help keep your aura clear from negative energy.
People across the globe have cherished turquoise for centuries. From ancient Egyptians to Mughal kings, and across an ocean to the native tribes of North and Central America, turquoise has found a place not only in history but in our modern times.
Harnessing the healing energies of this natural wonder can help you feel more joyful and happy, recharge and revitalize a depleted chakra system, and surround you with a shield of protection. Follow your intuition guiding you on how best to work with turquoise, and allow the healing properties of this stunning stone to elevate your energy and your life.