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Turquoise Jewelry uncovering the story

Do you think the history of turquoise jewelry started in the Southwest region of the United States? Nope you’re wrong! Many people including myself always think of the Southwest, New Mexico and Arizona especially come to mind for the creation of turquoise jewelry. But turquoise jewelry can actually be referenced back to the First Dynasty of Egypt. Turquoise bracelets were found on Egyptian mummies as far back as 5000 years ago!

The word itself Turquoise comes from Turkish traders who brought it to medieval Europe. The first turquoise mines can be traced back to sometime around 3500 B.C. with the mines in Sinai. Turquoise Jewelry was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. King Tut was a real fan of turquoise he surrounded himself with turquoise for the journey to the next life with turquoise mosaics and turquoise jewelry. Later on and a continent away, 13th Century China, turquoise could only be mined with special permission from the Emperor.

Men of 17th century Europe and Asia prized turquoise jewelry for its beauty and its magical powers to protect the wearer. They would adorn not only themselves but would use it to decorate their camels and horses. It wasn’t until the 19th century that turquoise jewelry really hit its stride with turquoise from the mines in Persia and there ability to find sky blue stones with very few impurities making it ideal for cutting and polishing.

A few thousand miles away across the ocean in land we now call the Americas, the Aztecs of Mesoamerica found the sky stone and they called it Chalchihuitl. There have been artifacts found dating back to 900-700B.C. in the Andes and Mexico and a couple of pieces found in Arizona. The real turquoise scene took off in around A.D. 950 in the American Southwest. There have been more than 200 prehistoric turquoise mines found in and about the Southwest. The biggest and most famous of the prehistoric mines is Mount Chalchihuitl in the Cerrillos Hills of New Mexico.

What made turquoise so special to the natives of the southwest? Like the Egyptians they to believe the stone could cure everything from insanity to stomach ailments. The Navajo believe that turquoise gets its color from the sky and even have a superhero named after it, Turquoise Boy! There is a Navajo legend that says when the first man came from the underworld, he found a huge piece of turquoise and hung it from the sky making