If you are buying gemstones this year, you should consider purchasing turquoise. Like many cyclical trends, turquoise has had its highs and lows when it comes to popularity. But the gorgeous gemstone is becoming scarce and is in high demand.
As the cost of mining increases and many mines close, turquoise is getting harder to find. Less than 5 percent of the turquoise mined can be cut and turned into jewelry. And perhaps the rarest turquoise of all is Bisbee turquoise.
Bisbee turquoise first gained popularity in Cochise County, Arizona in the late 1950s, and has become one of the most sought-after gemstones on earth. It is no longer mined, so it's worth a pretty penny if you can find it.
So what is it about this luxurious gem that is so special? Read on to hear the amazing story of Bisbee turquoise, how it rose in popularity and where to find it now.
The History of Bisbee Turquoise Mining
The Copper Queen was first discovered in the 1870s in Cochise County, Arizona. Resident Judge Dewitt Bisbee invested in the mine which ended up being responsible for the growth and development of its surrounding town, named after him, Bisbee, Arizona.
The Copper Queen mined 8,000,000,000 lbs. of copper during its run. It also produced lead, zinc, gold and silver.
The metals are products of natural minerals including azurite, malachite and of course, turquoise. At the time, however, those metals were discarded due to liability issues.
In the 1950s the Phelps Dodge Corporation overseeing the mine started to do open-pit mining when they found the Lavender Pit, which had unique turquoise. This would allow mining operations to continue on-site.
Discovering Bisbee Turquoise
The Lavender Pit contained large amounts of by-products like turquoise. While most of these by-products were discarded to focus on other mining, there was a unique turquoise with a striking blue color and spiderweb matrix. Some of the miners would take notice.
Workers started sneaking small amounts of the rough rock out of the mine in their lunch bags and clothing. Naturally, the stone was called Bisbee turquoise, and it started to grow in popularity. It wasn't long before the rare turquoise went to jewellers who started turning it into polished pieces.
By the 1960s Bisbee turquoise was in high demand, so Phelps Dodge Corporation was mining it. But the workers were only permitted to mine small amounts. But by the 1980s all Bisbee turquoise mining ended when the mine closed.
Since then, any Bisbee Turquoise that has surfaced is from private collections or occasionally sourced from mine robbers who managed to break into the guarded area late at night. It's believed that some items were scavenged from old waste dumps.
As a result, limited amounts of these beautiful turquoise stones exist on the market and the likelihood of additional mining in the future is grim. Bisbee turquoise is extremely rare and valuable. Worth an estimated $20-$40 a carat, it is one of the most expensive turquoise stones in existence.
What Is Bisbee Turquoise?
Bisbee Turquoise is a solid, durable stone.
It's known for its striking shades of Bisbee blue color. The variety of shades ranges from pale or soft blues to brilliant blue or even a deep Lapis Lazuli-like blue.
Bisbee turquoise is even more distinct because of its unique smoky matrix spiderwebbing pattern. The pattern is typically a red-brown or chocolate color. Stones with an unobstructed clear and unique pattern hold the most value.
Jewellers create Bisbee turquoise cabochons. Cabochons are special gemstones in which the rough slab of a precious stone appears shaped and polished, instead of faceted. Cabochons have curved fronts and are flat at the back, perfect for jewellery.
The Bisbee turquoise cabochons create unique bracelets, earrings, engagement rings and necklaces. It is often used in custom pieces designed specifically for handmade jewelry.
How Do Turquoise Stones Form?
While turquoise forms in other areas of the world as well, the American Southwest has created some of the finest turquoise stones around. This is because of the climate.
Arizona, for example, is rich in metallic materials like copper, silver and gold. But it's also known for its storms, which cause minerals to form a solution. Eventually, the solution becomes turquoise.
When the earth dries and the ground cracks, it allows for limonite, manganese and iron to seep through. It's believed it causes webbing.
But it's also believed that Earth's natural shifts and deep-rooted vegetation play a role in creating this unique effect. The roots of plants bury deep underground and into the stones, and then they dry up and fill with manganese.
Cutting Bisbee Turquoise
Those who are able to secure a large slab of Bisbee turquoise can expect a return. The stone has become valuable. But cutting Bisbee turquoise is not for the faint of heart.
The stone is challenging to cut from a rough stone, and if you don't know exactly what you're doing, you can lose a lot of material. It's best to take the stone to someone who has worked with Bisbee turquoise before.
The slab can be analyzed and carefully cut to avoid too much loss. When cut properly, Bisbee turquoise will provide a large number of gemstones.
Caring for Bisbee Turquoise
If you do get your hands on a piece of Bisbee turquoise, you will probably wonder how to properly care for it. Turquoise is solid and durable, so you won't have to worry too much about cracks or scratches.
But turquoise stones have been known to change color over time. So, this is something to be aware of, especially if you have hand-selected a rare Bisbee blue color.
There was an ancient belief that turquoise stones changed color for more ominous reasons. They believed it was a warning sign for the person who possessed the stone, and they should be on the lookout for impending danger.
In truth, there is a simple explanation for the expensive turquoise changing color. It is a result of prolonged exposure to the sun or heat. So it is best to avoid wearing your beloved Bisbee turquoise in direct sunlight for extended periods.
Like many gemstones and jewelry, Bisbee turquoise does not mix with well cosmetics and products. It's believed chemicals can also cause a turquoise stone to change its color.
If possible, avoid letting the stone come in contact with lotions or makeup products. It is also wise to refrain from spraying perfume, sunscreen or hair products like hairspray, dry shampoo or root lifters near your Bisbee turquoise.
A general rule of thumb is to put jewelry on last before leaving the house and remove it as soon as you get home.
It is also wise to avoid heavy perspiration when you are wearing Bisbee turquoise as the oils on the skin and the additional heat can change the stone as well.
Cleaning Turquoise Stones
From time to time, it is a good idea to gently clean your Bisbee turquoise stone. This will help preserve it in good form for a longer amount of time.
Do not use any product on the stone. Instead, use a clean, soft, damp cloth to carefully clean the surface of the stone. This will remove any unnecessary oils or skin cells and debris from the surface.
Bisbee Turquoise Healing Properties
Many people believe that gemstones have healing properties. The stones can capture and hold all of Earth's elements, the sun, soil, water, mountains and the moon. It is the belief that stones hold all of that energy and can transmit that energy to us to help create alignment in the body.
Of course, not everyone believes in the healing properties of stones, but some believe the ideas create a placebo effect, which can help strengthen the mind and eventually heal ailments.
Turquoise is one of the most powerful healing stones. Its healing properties offer benefits to the whole body.
More specifically, because the Lavender Pit also housed other minerals including azurite and malachite, it's believed Bisbee turquoise possesses even more energy and healing properties.
The Benefits of Bisbee Turquoise
Turquoise stones are known for promoting love and friendship as well as good health and happiness. It's believed the stones have crystal energy and metaphysical characteristics that engage with the energy of the person they come in contact with.
It is widely believed that turquoise boosts the immune system, particularly when it comes to repairing respiratory issues. It is also believed to help anyone coping with illness in their chest or lungs. Many believe it can improve asthma.
Other health benefits include lowering blood pressure, assisting with the detoxification of alcohol, and coping with high levels of pollution and TMJ and dental stress. Bisbee turquoise is also credited with lowering levels of stress, pain and depression.
The stone is also known to help people socially. It is believed to help boost communication and confidence, and it is particularly helpful for those who are afraid of public speaking or confrontation.
It is also believed the stone increases feelings of creativity, empathy, peace, and an overall sense of happiness. It helps foster relationships.
Is It Real Bisbee Turquoise?
If you are considering buying rare turquoise, it's best to know what you are looking for. This is especially true of Bisbee turquoise. There is a very limited amount available, and there are often devious salespeople who claim to carry authentic Bisbee turquoise when it is not authentic.
Before you purchase this expensive turquoise stone, make sure the piece is authentic. One of the best ways to tell if Bisbee turquoise is authentic is through its color hue.
The stone should have a wide range of Bisbee blue from soft blues to midnight blue. It is not uncommon to find shades of green in a Bisbee stone either.
Unlike other turquoise stones, Bisbee turquoise usually has a chocolate-brown or brownish-red matrix. If the spiderwebbing is of a different color, it may not be authentic Bisbee turquoise.
Why Buy Bisbee Turquoise?
Despite the high price of Bisbee turquoise, it is a great investment. The Lavender Pit is no longer in operation, and Bisbee turquoise is highly sought after due to its rare Bisbee blue appearance and defined webbing.
Bisbee turquoise is full of character. Each stone is a statement piece and is unlike any other stone. Owning a beautiful piece of this rare turquoise is a great way to express yourself.
Bisbee turquoise is more than just a beautiful precious stone. It is a piece of history. The story of Bisbee, Arizona, an All-American mining town, is fascinating.
Owning a rare piece of Bisbee turquoise feels like holding onto a historical artifact. And as demand increases and supply decreases, the value of the stone is only likely to increase.
It's getting harder to find natural turquoise that is not filled with epoxy, made from howlite, or dyed to look more authentic in color. Currently, Bisbee turquoise is available for purchase, but it is becoming much harder to find.
Bisbee Turquoise Is a Piece of History
If you are considering purchasing a gemstone this year, you might be wondering which stone is most unique. By purchasing a cabochon of Bisbee Turquoise, you are purchasing a piece of American history.
The striking blue turquoise gemstone tells the story of a mining town in Arizona surrounded by treasure. It is getting harder to find and continues to increase in value. But most importantly, it is unique and beautiful!
If you're interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind stone, we offer some gorgeous Bisbee turquoise on our website. We can help you find the perfect cab.