How Broken Arrow Turquoise / Broken Arrow Variscite Is Mined

Did you know that turquoise is revered as a holy stone for thousands of years? Cultures in both Old and New Worlds have thought of turquoise as a talisman or something that brings good fortune. 

But have you ever wondered about broken arrow turquoise or broken arrow variscite and how you mine turquoise? For starters, mining primarily takes place in the Southwest. The conditions in this region of the United States are best for turquoise. 

This helpful guide walks you through the turquoise mining process, so you can understand what it takes to mine this beautiful stone! Keep reading to learn more. 

Turquoise: At a Glance

If you're looking for a beautiful mineral in blue or bluish-green shades, then turquoise is ideal. It also comes in green and yellow-green shades and has been around for thousands of years, often associated with ancient Egypt. Turquoise was commonly made into jewelry using other gemstones, used as an inlay for other projects, and even incorporated into sculptures. 

Some people use turquoise for spiritual reasons. It's thought to have calming properties and grounding energy.

It can aid in meditation or help if you're feeling overwhelmed. Spiritually, people believe that turquoise connects Heaven and earth. 

It's thought that turquoise can enhance expression and communication. For those looking to purchase turquoise for spiritual reasons, it may help balance emotions and provide a pathway to love and forgiveness.  

Turquoise vs Broken Arrow Variscite

You might be wondering about the difference between turquoise and broken arrow variscite and how to tell the two apart, along with some similarities. 

Variscite is a mineral that is related to turquoise. However, it doesn't contain copper. Copper is what gives turquoise its blue coloring. 

 

broken arrow turquoise cabochons

 

 

Variscite remains white in its purest form but does come in various colors. This includes yellow, green, orange, and black. 

Chromium and vanadium give variscite its bright green characteristics. 

How Is Turquoise Formed?

Turquoise is commonly found as an aggregate of microcrystals. It isn't typically found in well-formed crystals. As microcrystals are packed in close proximity to one another, there's a greater chance that the turquoise will be more durable and have a lowered porosity.

It will also polish better with a stronger luster. However, it's not common that this type of luster will look glassy. Rather, it will look waxy. 

An arid climate is best for the formation of turquoise. In the United States, turquoise is primarily formed in the Southwest. It's also formed in China, Chile, Mexico, Iran, and Egypt. 

Since rainfall infiltrates down through rock and soil, it's able to dissolve a small amount of copper. As this water evaporates, copper combines with phosphorous and aluminum and deposits tiny buts of turquoise on subsurface fracture walls. 

Turquoise can replace any rock that comes in contact with this water. Upon completion, the result is a solid piece of turquoise.

The Turquoise Mining Process

Nevada is rife with turquoise and is an ideal location for mining. This makes Nevada the state with the most amount of turquoise mines. But how do some of these mines operate?

For starters, it's important to understand that broken arrow turquoise mining is incredibly laborious. Mining requires heavy equipment and the use of explosives. This helps miners track veins and other turquoise pockets of the coveted stone. 

After the carefully placed explosions leave a pile of rubble, its carefully raked, revealing any turquoise stones and nuggets. Sometimes the moisture content and harsh sun at these mines make identifying turquoise difficult, along with the black-grey clay they're coated with.

It's best to rake in several directions so all stones are caught. Miners throw discovered stones into a large 5-gallon bucket and removed them from the mine by hand.

They're washed, sorted, and graded. Once this process is complete, they're ready for hand cutting and jewelry use. 

However, not all stones are hard enough for jewelry use. This is when they require stabilization. 

Stabilized stones require impregnation from acrylic to help maintain durability, color, and hardness. If a stone is hard enough to cut, polish, and use immediately in jewelry then it won't require further stabilization. These stones are the most prized among collectors. 

Common Mining States

As previously mentioned, the United States boasts plenty of opportunities for turquoise mining, based out of the arid region that is the Southwest. The majority of this mining is around copper deposits.

The leading turquoise-producing states are Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. Other leading turquoise mining states include California, Colorado, Utah, Arkansas, and Texas. 

The majority of mined turquoise is actually a copper production byproduct. Since copper mines are large and consist of open pits, miners excavate past any shallow rock where turquoise is formed.

If they find broken arrow turquoise or broken arrow variscite, they'll asses the quality and quality of the material and will decide if it's worth it to mine any turquoise or variscite in this location temporarily. Keep in mind, they'd need to disrupt an extremely lucrative mining venture to access this turquoise, so the payout needs to be worthwhile. 

 

The Scarcity of Turquoise

While it's true that the southwest part of the United States produced an extensive amount of turquoise, some prized for being rare and of exceptional quality, a lot of those mines don't mine turquoise anymore. The price of natural turquoise is affected by its scarcity. 

Many Native American tribes view turquoise as a deep cultural tradition. It's seen as a sacred stone and its beauty and meaning reflect Native people's beliefs. It's used in countless types of jewelry and its quality varies from piece to piece. 

The quality affects its price, and Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado mines are known for producing the highest-quality stones which are used in jewelry. With all the work put into mining, only a nominal percentage is used in actual jewelry. The amount of time and labor needed adds to the total cost of purchasing turquoise. 

Additionally, a lot of mines that previously produced turquoise closed down. This was due to government restrictions and high permit costs.

Equipment is also very expensive and eventually, mining turquoise became very difficult and not as profitable. Since turquoise is often found with copper, a lot of mines decided to focus on other opportunities instead, while some completely closed. 

Foreign Imports

One of these foreign imports is China. Since turquoise was so popular, China started to mine its turquoise to sell it in the world market. 

 

Turquoise Value 

Expensive government restrictions have contributed to turquoise value, along with the high price of mining. It's reported that a high-grade turquoise can be worth more than gold because it's exceptionally rare. High-grade turquoise mined in the 1960s and 1970s trades hands between collectors since it's extremely valuable and difficult to procure. 

There are three things that affect the value of turquoise. Let's take a look. 

Hardness

Since only a small portion of turquoise is hard enough to use in jewelry, it drives the price up. This type of turquoise is untreated or natural turquoise. From there, it's broken into high-grade and gem-grade. This describes its overall hardness. 

Aesthetic

Aesthetic is another driving factor when considering the price of turquoise. The depth of a stone's color adds value, along with any matrix present or host rock.

The deeper and darker a stone is, the more expensive the price. Spider webbing in a stone adds even more value, although some gemologists feel that the clearer a stone, the more valuable. On the other hand, Native American jewelers and collectors feel webbing makes the stone more beautiful and valuable. 

Rarity

Rarity affects the price and correlates to turquoise mines. The amount of turquoise a mine produces combined with the stone quality and their aesthetic beauty all dictate the price. 

Take, for example, the Lander Blue turquoise mine located in Nevada. This mine produced some of the highest-grade and hardest turquoise ever. But the deposit mined was small, driving up its price. 

Broken Arrow Turquoise / Broken Arrow Variscite

Now that you understand how broken arrow turquoise, broken arrow variscite is mined, you can truly appreciate the hard work and exceptional mining skills that go into mining this exceptional stone. If you're looking for a stone that is as durable as it is beautiful, then consider broken arrow turquoise stones for your next piece of jewelry. 

 

broken arrow variscite cabochons

 

 

 

Check out our complete list of Moose Facts about the beautiful types of turquoise. You can also reach our to us if you are looking for a particular turquoise for your artistic needs. 💚

 

Subscribe to our Newsletter for more updates. 💚

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Recently viewed


More Mines