Turquoise is a very ancient stone, with a strand of beads dating back to 5,000 B.C. as the oldest existing proof of its ancient use. The stone was chosen by royalty in Egypt before the first dynasty. Ancient Egyptian jewelry has been found that dates back to 4,000 B.C. Turquoise has holy significance in cultures all over the world. The oldest evidence of this again, coming from Egypt where a grave furnishings were discovered with inlaid turquoise. Ancient Persians wore turquoise to prevent unnatural death. North American Natives believe turquoise opens up a direct connection between the sky and sea. The Aztecs in Mexico used the stone in their ceremonial masks.
From the beginning of recorded history all over the world and still today Turquoise is worn for protection from the powers of darkness. Often it has been surrounded with pearls to protect the wearer against the 'evil eye.' This tradition is deeply rooted in Turkey, a large trading area of the stone. The stone made its way to Europe in the time of the crusaders, where it earned the name “turquoise,” meaning “Turkish.”
Turquoise is a copper aluminum phosphate. The copper contributes to the blue color, and iron with chrome contribute to the green tint of the stone. Turquoise is found in places with high concentration of copper in the soil. Persia is historically responsible for most ancient turquoise and today Iran is still a significant producer of “Sleeping Beauty” turquoise, which has a very desirable color and a completely smooth color.
Today the United States is the largest producer of turquoise, with Native Americans still producing a large amount of traditional jewelry. Mexico, Egypt, Afghanistan, and China are also producers of turquoise. Only 10% of mined turquoise is of gem quality.
Usually turquoise is valued for its color, and strong, vivid sky blue is the most desirable. The vein or “matrix” pattern on the stone is less desirable, although “spider-webbed matrix” is the most preferred of the patterns, and irregular patterns are less preferred. Since it is one of the most ancient stones in history, it's not surprising that it is also one of the first stones to be mimicked. From before 477 B.C. And until 51 B.C. fake turquoise was a glazed soapstone dyed blue and green.
To care for turquoise is simple, it simply needs to be washed occasionally with water. It's important to protect turquoise from the sun, cosmetics, and harsh chemicals, as all of these things can change the color for which it is and always has been a very desirable stone.