December: Turquoise


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Turquoise is one of the oldest and best-known opaque gemstones, found widely among ancient Egyptian, Sumerian and Mesopotamian artifacts dating back before 3000 B.C.

The name turquoise means “Turkish stone,” because the trade route that brought the gem to Europe came through Turkey. The first known deposits of turquoise were found in ancient Turkey, then later in Egypt.

With its robin’s egg blue hue, turquoise has graced the necks of Egyptian pharaohs and adorned early Native Americans in their ceremonial dress. Cleopatra was known to use ground-up turquoise for eye paint, as well as wearing turquoise in her jewelry. Tutankhamen’s tomb was filled with examples of turquoise inlay, beads, sculpture, and slabs used in everything from jewelry and furniture to the great sarcophagus and death masks. During the 16th century, Native American in the southwest used turquoise as currency. They believed the gem could bring spoils to the warrior, animals to the hunter and happiness to all.

From its very beginning, turquoise was not exclusively a gem for the rich. Cavalry soldiers in most ancient armies carried pieces of turquoise or wore turquoise rings to keep them from falling off their horses. Children in several cultures were given turquoise charms to protect them from harm, prevent nightmares, and to grant them restful sleep.

Turquoise is as beautiful, popular and affordable as it was 5,000 years ago with sources found in China, Australia, U.S., Mexico and Chile.