- Bisbee (Enhanced)
- Bisbee (Stabilized)
- Black Widow
- Blue Diamond
- Blue Gem
- Blue Moon
- Carico Lake
- Easter Blue
- Indian Mountain
- Lone Mountain
- New Landers
- Number 8
- Orville Jack
- Pilot Mountain
- Sleeping Beauty
Different Types of Turquoise Mines from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico
The Ajax mine is north of Tonopah, Nevada in the Royston area. This type of turquoise ore is usually found in vein-lets and nodules. Ajax turquoise is mostly light blue often with darker blue veins and blotches with a greenish cast. Also common in attractive mostly dark green with lighter greens and blues in the same stone with patches of golden to dark brown webbing.
Bisbee Turquoise was mined for many years as a byproduct of copper production in the enormous open pit mine and surrounding areas oped by Phelps Dodge Corp. The vast majority and the highest quality turquoise was found in the famous Lavender Pit copper mine. Bisbee turquoise is famous for its deep sky blue color and its purplish-chocolate brown matrix. The chocolate brown spider-webbed stones with deep sky blue color are among the most prized turquoise stones ever available. Overall, Bisbee turquoise ranges in color from pale to dark green and from pale to deep dark blue and occur occasionally in perfectly clear form as well as with matrices of tan to dark brown. The clear and deep sky blue stones come closest of all American turquoise to turquoise equaling the perfectly clear sky blue Persian stones which are so highly valued in Europe. The Europeans and Middle Easterners much prefer gold jewelry to silver and the contrast between the clear sky blue stones against the gold is considered more attractive than blue stones mottled with matrix material. In the United States, where silver Indian jewelry has been popular for many years, consumers notice the clear blue stones appear to wash out against the silver color and as a result, matrix-ed stones are preferred.
When the copper mine was open, mine management strongly discouraged its miners from stopping work activities to pick up pieces of turquoise which were exposed during the movement of copper ore. Not surprisingly, many miners over the years took out a lot of turquoise anyway often, it is told, in their lunch pails. Meanwhile turquoise rights were sold to one company on an exclusive basis to minimize disruption of the copper mining operation. After the mine closed, the company has continued to have the exclusive rights to search through the ore dumps for pieces of turquoise ore. As a result, Bisbee turquoise supply has long been lacking to meet its demand. Because of the relatively short supply and because of its unique beauty, Bisbee turquoise has remained one of the most expensive on the market.Go to Top
Bisbee Turquoise (Enhanced)
The pictures show enhanced Bisbee cabs that were of significant hardness and did not require stabilization, but lacked sufficient color to be useful in their natural state. So they were soaked in a solution for some period of time to enhance the color of the stones. While enhanced stones are not as inferior as stabilized turquoise, they are still not valued nearly as highly as natural stones.
Bisbee Turquoise (Stabilized)
In these photographs of stabilized Bisbee turquoise seen here, it is easier to see that all of the cabs are of exactly the same shade of blue which is unnatural unless all of the stones were cut from a single very large nugget. Even with large nuggets, there is usually some color shade variance across the extent of the nugget. Also, the blue in the cabs pictured here is not as deep as one might expect in natural stones. Natural Bisbee cabs usually have a look of “depth” in which it seems as though you can see deeply into the blue. Top quality natural Bisbee blue cabs are famous for this depth of color. By contrast, stabilized stones look “ﬂat”.
The Black Widow is a small mine in northeastern Nevada. It is another example of a Nevada “hat mine” which refers to a mine so small that it can be covered with a hat. Other examples of turquoise hat mines include Lander, Godber, Paiute, and perhaps Damele turquoise mines.
Black Widow turquoise is usually an attractive and unusual light mint green color with thin webbed and spider-webbed black chert matrix. Mined primarily in the form of small nuggets, most Black Widow cabs are relatively small with most cabochons under 15 carats. While collectible, this mine does not produce enough turquoise to be a signiﬁcant source of material for the jewelry market.
Blue Diamond Turquoise
The Blue Diamond mine is located south of Austin in central Nevada.Like Stormy Mountain turquoise, Blue Diamond is characterized by large amounts of black chert matrix. Blue diamond cabs typically have large chunks, blotches, or swirls of chert against a deep dark blue turquoise background. This turquoise is extremely hard and is seldom stabilized. While some consider Blue Diamond to be among the best turquoise due to its deep blue color and hardness, it is not among the marketplace favorites perhaps due to the large amount of chert present and due to the fact that it has not been actively mined in years. As a result, it is highly underd in the marketplace.
Blue Gem Turquoise
The Blue Gem mine is located near Battle Mountain in Lander County, Nevada. It has produced an enormous amount of turquoise since its discovery in 1934. Blue Gem has produced some of the most brilliant blue stones in the `southwest along with superb blue-greens and greens. Cabochons range from completely clear to webbed with a tan to brown matrix with some spiderweb. Some of the clear blue stones have a noticeable depth of color meaning one can look deeply into the blue and have the sense that there is no bottom.
Blue Gem occurs in both thin vein-lets and in nugget nodules. Often the thickness of the turquoise in the vein is so thin that the stone absolutely must be backed in order to cut into cabochons. In those cases, the resulting thin layer of turquoise against a thicker layer of backing material can look so thin that one wonders if he is buying turquoise or backing material. This can happen whenever a turquoise occurs in very thin vein-lets in the host rock.
Blue Gem colors range from light or dark sky blue to a magnificent unique blue green and to a dark “military” green. When the dark green Blue Gem occurs with a tan limonite matrix, it can be difficult to differentiate from similarly webbed dark green Royston or Easter Blue. Further, occasionally the dark green stones have adjacent white areas which are also almost identical to similarly colored Royston. Such overlapping of appearances or “looks” between mines make it impossible to be certain of the specific source of a particular stone. At best, such a stone may be limited to two or three possible mines of origination.
Realizing that some mines overlap in their “look”, we should not be over confident in our ability to identify with certainty the origin of an unknown stone. Experts can and do disagree on the origin of given stones. For this reason, some buyers insist on buying only those stones which exhibit the “prototypical look of the speciﬁed mine. On the other hand, if the stone is gorgeous, it may not matter exactly which of two or three possible mines the stone actually came from. Gorgeous is gorgeous.
Blue Moon Turquoise
The Blue Moon Turquoise mine is in the highly productive turquoise mining area northwest of Tonopah, Nevada. It has long been owned and oped by individuals who only worked the claim intermittently and on a very small scale. It is now under new ownership which will produce larger quantities of this unique, attractive, and high quality turquoise for the first time.
Blue Moon ranges in color from white to light blue and most often has a matrix with small to large chunks of black chert and occasionally with small patches of tan limonite. Some spectacular and unique black spider-webbed material is occasionally found with thick, black spiderweb lines as opposed to the ﬁne chert spider-webbing found in other mines. Also rare and interesting are the occasional white or very pale blue stones with dark blue irregular stain lines reminiscent of some of the material from Turquoise Mountain. Blue Moon is very hard, high quality turquoise and is very collectible but was never produced in sufﬁcient quantity to create a following among jewelry makers and collectors. As a result, it continues to be priced signiﬁcantly lower than more popular turquoise of similar quality and beauty. Hence it may be considered to be an underd turquoise mine.
Carico Lake Turquoise
The Carico Lake mine is one of the largest producing mines in Nevada. It produces a large amount of chalcosiderit eand veriscite along with turquoise and is particularly collectable at this time due to its unique appearance and the fact that it is produced in sufﬁcient quantities to be widely marketed. Its wide market acceptance, particularly in jewelry, has provided the basis for its relatively high prices compared to other attractive, high quality stones from other less widely known mines. Carico Lake is famous for its fossilized clams which were produced as turquoise solution slowly displaced the clam organic material and took on its shape.
Carico Lake turquoise is most abundantly found in nugget form which enables the cutting of much higher domed cabochons than the turquoise found in thin veinlets. The nuggets are covered in light tan host rock which consists primarily of limonite. While clear material is found, the vast majority of ﬁnished stones are uniquely webbed with the limonite host rock material. Colors range from pale to dark blue and from pale green to a dark military green. Among the green Carico Lake stones are sometimes seen a bright green which is almost neon in appearance. The market has deemed this rare neon green to be the most valuable, with the dark green and deep blues also in high demand. As is common with most turquoise, the pale colors are less valuable than the satud deep colored stones.
During the 1970’s when turquoise popularity spiked in the United States, Chinese turquoise importation rapidly increased due to the increasing price and decreasing supply of American turquoise. Chinese turquoise was signiﬁcantly cheaper due to reduced labor costs, reduced environmental regulations, and an abundant supply. Over time, the Chinese turquoise was recognized as being of low quality because the vast majority requires chemical stabilization and also because of its thick, jagged matrix and its uniquely dull appearance due to magnesite mineral content. As a result, Chinese turquoise gained a reputation as a cheap, unattractive alternative to the higher quality but higher priced American turquoise. Virtually all of the least expensive southwest silver jewelry contains Chinese turquoise while all of the higher quality Indian jewelry uses American turquoise due to its superior appearance.
Almost all of the Chinese turquoise sold over the years has been green to greenish blue with a distinctive if less than attractive black matrix. Over time, new deposits of Chinese turquoise were discovered which mimicked the appearance of the turquoise from many American mines. Unscrupulous sellers counterfeited expensive American turquoise by claiming this inexpensive new Chinese material was Number 8, Lander Blue, or even Bisbee turquoise. As more and more Chinese deposits were discovered and as stabilization methods improved, virtually every American mine was subject to counterfeiting by a cheap Chinese counterpart.
In recent years, a couple of new turquoise deposits have been discovered in China which produce high quality natural turquoise which can be sold as Chinese without apology. Some of this material is bright blue with ﬁne black spider-webbing and commands prices equal to those from some of the better American turquoise mines.
The Damele mine is located near Austin, Nevada on the other side of the hill from the famous Godber/Burnham mine. The Damele mine produces a large proportion of variscite, a mineral closely related to turquoise, in addition to its unique turquoise of predominantly green hues. It is famous for its spider-webbed turquoise which appears to be thousands of tiny little balls of green, brown, and yellow colors all pressed together. Some Damele must be stabilized due to the tendency of dissociating into thousands of sepa little balls during processing. The highest grade spider-webbed material is often spectacular and is popular among both collectors and high end jewelry makers. The variscite often appears as many larger roundish light to dark green chunks held together by a thick muddy brown to black matrix. Overall, the turquoise from the Damele mine ranges in color from white to tan, brown, and various shades of green with the rare, ﬁne spider-webbed material being the most highly prized.
Easter Blue Turquoise
The Easter Blue mine is located northwest of Tonopah, Nevada inthe Royston Mining District. Discovered in 1907, the ﬁrst turquoise mined here was an Easter blue color — which became the name of the mine. The turquoise ore is found in thin veinlets which requires the turquoise be backed to protect the thin turquoise layer from damage during the cabbing process.
Easter Blue cabochons range in color from light blue to dark green usually with a tan to brown matrix consisting of the limonite host rock. The appearance is very similar to the stone from nearby Pilot Mountain and Royston mines but tends to have more splotches of the matrix material. The light brown matrix is reminiscent of chopped Graham crackers. Easter Blue is very rarely seen spider-webbed. The cabs tend to be an intense and unique deep greenish-blue to bluish-green. As is the case with many small Nevada mines, it does not produce a lot of turquoise and as a result has not achieved a large market following so again the price of this turquoise indicates that it is signiﬁcantly underd considering the unique beauty of the stone.
The Godber turquoise mine is located east of Austin, Nevada on the other side of the hill from the Damele mine. Formerly known as the “Last Chance” mine, it was sold to Frank Bumham and later to Walter Godber, hence the mine name. Godber turquoise ranges in color from a pale green to pale blue and very rarely to dark blue with the pale sky blue being the most familiar color. The extremely pale blue stones are essentially identical to the stones from the Dry Creek mine which is just downstream from the Godber mine. Godber turquoise cabs are seldom totally clear. Virtually all have a matrix of brown to black and rarely a dark red matrix — sometimes in splotches, often webbed, and sometimes in beautiful spiderweb patterns. Jim Godber had a contract with Hollywood studios to provide costume materials including turquoise jewelry such as the turquoise nugget necklace worn in the movie King of Kings.
Godber is one of the hardest turquoises found and like Lone Mountain turquoise and a few others is never seen stabilized because the rough is too hard for the stabilizing solution to penet. As a consequence of this hardness, Godber turquoise doesn’t change color over time due to environmental exposure (skin oils, etc.). The Godber mine is very small and has never produced a lot of turquoise. The darker blue stones with attractive black or reddish brown matrix are extremely rare and are highly collectible. The typical light blue cabs with mode webbing are the most common and their prices indicate that they are underd given the quality of this turquoise.
Indian Mountain Turquoise
The Indian Mountain mine in northeastern Nevada was discovered by a Shoshone sheepherder in 1970. Like all of the northern Nevada mines in high altitude, it was only workable during the months of May through October. In winter months, the mine was covered with 10-12 feet of snow. The Indian Mountain mine was what is called a “grass roots” mine because the turquoise was located very close to the surface, as deep as the roots of grass. Although most turquoise deposits are shallow, located within 100 feet of the surface, most mines require digging shafts and tunnels to reach the deposits. At the Indian Mountain mine, Caterpillar tractors were used to scrape off the first few feet of soil which contained most of the ore.
Although Indian Mountain was a relatively recent discovery, it is still considered a “classic” among turquoise aﬁcionados due to the large amount of beautiful and distinctive turquoise produced from its large seam deposits. Indian Mountain turquoise is seen in an unusually wide range of colors and matrix patterns. Although the colors range from deep green to blue to white, the color Indian Mountain is famous for is its unique greenish-blue stones with ﬁne black spider-webbing. Clear material without matrix is seldom seen as most turquoise contains tan, gold or black matrix. Except for some scavenging of the old site, the mine has not been worked for years as the main deposit played out long ago. It is highly collectible and is relatively rarely seen on the market. Some “looks” such as the nearly white with ﬁne black spider-webbing command prices equal to top Number 8 and Bisbee turquoise.
More than any other large copper mining company, the Duval Corp. has long felt that turquoise production could coexist with copper mining. Located near Kingman, Arizona, the so—called Kingman turquoise actually represents a number of distinct deposits in the Mineral Park area and produces an extremely wide range of turquoise looks and varying levels of quality.
Turquoise from the Ithaca Peak mine is typically light blue and often has dark blue webbing patterns referred to as “birds eye” turquoise. Turquoise Mountain turquoise is usually a unique blue green often with black matrix including a lot of spider-webbed looks. The primary turquoise deposits at the Kingman mine are of light to sky blue with attractive webbing that often includes shiny iron pyrite patches with occasional powdery whitish arsenic areas. The turquoise ranges from light and soft requiring stabilization and color treatment to high quality deep blues with a range of tan to black matrix which is hard enough to be sold as natural turquoise. Recently a new deposit was found which produces a gorgeous dark blue turquoise with tight ﬁne black spider-webbing. It is the most expensive turquoise produced at the Kingman mine and competes at the price level of higher quality Candelaria and Indian Mountain turquoises.
Lone Mountain Turquoise
Located in the Royston area west of Tonopah, Nevada, the Lone Mountain mine was ﬁrst mine that was worked on by the famous early turquoise miner Lee Hand in the 1920’s. It is now owned by Gene Waddell and is worked by Chris Lott but produces little of the high quality material it became famous for.. Lone Mountain turquoise is noted for its hardness and its claim that “no Lone Mountain turquoise cab has ever changed color”. Lone Mountain turquoise ranges in color from white to light blue to dark greenish-blue. Surprisingly, according to a geologist who is an expert in turquoise, the rarest color in turquoise stone is white. And while Lone Mountain is available in totally clear form (without any matrix), it is famous for its spider-webbing. It has produced some of the highest quality spider-webbed material ever found — usually seen with a dark blue to greenish blue color. Lone Mountain may be the only mine to produce turquoise with webbing in the form of dendrites although this material is very rare and expensive. Lone Mountain is also famous for producing fossilized turquoise which has been used to make some of the ﬁnest and most expensive necklaces ever made.
Morenci turquoise comes from the Phelps Dodge copper mine in Morenci, Arizona. It is famous for its hard brilliant blue turquoise which often glistens with ﬂecks or patches of shiny iron pyrite and black chert webbed matrix. Morenci turquoise is unique in that it is almost exclusively blue — pale blue to dark blue. Green turquoise from Morenci is seldom seen. The overwhelming majority of Morenci turquoise is matrixed with totally clear stones being somewhat rare and less valuable. As with other mines, the spider-webbed material is the most desirable. Morenci is also noted for producing some very large cabochons from the predominantly seam material it is found in. Mines which produce ore in nugget or vein form generally are limited to smaller stones compared to turquoise from relatively large and thick seams. Morenci is fairly hard and color stable and is seldom stabilized.
Like other Arizona turquoise mines, Morenci turquoise is a byproduct of open pit copper mining operations. Mining company management has long considered turquoise to be a nuisance to their massive rock hauling operation as workers waste time picking up the occasional chunks of turquoise they see intermingled with the copper ore. Mining companies often sell the right to collect turquoise to a single concessionaire and allow them to search the dumps or inactive areas on a scheduled basis to minimize disruption of mining operations.
New Landers Turquoise
Technically speaking, New Lander stone almost always consists of chalcosiderite, not turquoise. But, like variscite, chalcosiderite is related to turquoise and occurs in deposits similar to turquoise so it is marketed along with turquoise. It occurs in both nuggets and large veins and seams and ranges in color from white to yellow to light brown and green. Virtually all New Lander is heavily matrixed with the matrix forming predominantly coarse lines. Some ﬁne spider-webbed material is found which is generally considered to be more valuable than the typical coarsely webbed with white/yellow/brown/ green patches which is most commonly found.
Number 8 Turquoise
Number 8 turquoise was mined in the Lynn mining district in northern Eureka County, Nevada. It is widely considered to be among the best two or three turquoise mines in the US. The story goes that the mine was discovered in about 1925 by a barber who noticed pieces of turquoise “float” on the ground surface. Mining ﬁrst began in 1929 and has changed hands several times to various men who came to establish the biggest names in turquoise mining history such as Ted Johnson, Myron Clark, Lee Hand, and the Edgar brothers. In 1950 the Edgar brothers, using a bull dozer, uncovered a deposit of some of the ﬁnest dark blue turquoise with ﬁne black chert spider-webbing ever found in Nevada.
Most of the ore found was in the form of nuggets, one of which weighed 150 pounds. This deposit produced about 1600 pounds of the ﬁnest turquoise ever found. After this deposit was exhausted, the Edgars never found any more blue spider-webbed material, just commercial blue with brown and green with brown matrix of host rock limonite.
A wide range of turquoise looks have been mined at Number 8 over the years. The dark blue with black spider-webbing was the finest ever found followed by light blue with black webbing. Some mostly clear with bold brown/black web lines has been found along with a large amount of blue with lots of tan limonite host rock. The better quality Number 8 was quite hard and never required stabilization. Later, many tons of softer material of light green with a lot of tan matrix was produced of which nearly all required stabilization due to the soft nature of the host rock.
Orvile Jack Turquoise
Located in northern Nevada, the Orville Jack is a small mine which has long produced a distinctive yellowish green turquoise which usually indicates the presence of zinc in the turquoise instead of copper. The mine was named after a miner named Orville Jack whose daughter continues to ope the mine on a small scale. Orville Jack turquoise often has tan to dark brown matrix in the form of blotches and wisps and ranges from lime green color to the more common yellow green. It is generally quite hard and does not require stabilization.
Turquoise has been mined in Persia (present day Iran) for thousands of years. It has long been prized for its intense sky blue color with great depth. It is typically found in nugget form inside the host rock and is available in both clear and heavily webbed forms. Persian turquoise is characteristically cut into “high dome” cabochons. It is usually quite hard and does not require stabilization for sufﬁcient color or processing.
The Middle Eastern and European buyers have historically preferred the absolutely clear bright Robin’s egg/sky blue stones which command the highest price per carat of any turquoise in the world and can be found in the royal treasures of Middle Eastern monarchs. American buyers have long preferred matrixed turquoise over the clear form due to the attractive contrast against the underlying deep sky blue color and the silver of southwest Indian jewelry. American buyers feel the attractive red to black webbing adds character to the stone and makes each stone unique.
Pilot Mountain Turquoise
The Pilot Mountain mine is also located northwest of Tonopah in the very rich Royston mining district. It continues to be worked intermittently and produces a relatively small amount of turquoise each year. It is a hard turquoise which makes it highly resistant to color changes due to skin oils and environmental exposure.Pilot Mountain turquoise bears a close resemblance to the turquoise from nearby mines such as Royston and Easter Blue. The colors range from dark blue to dark green with tan to dark brown crusty limonite matrix material. Like Easter Blue turquoise, the matrix material is usually seen in blotches and webbed material is seldom seen. But occasionally deep blue cabs with attractive spider-webbing are seen which command signiﬁcantly higher prices. Like so many other mines in Nevada, it is not worked on a large scale and has not produced a sufﬁcient quantity to be widely marketable. As a result, it is both underd and bargain priced considering its quality and beauty.
The Royston mine is a major producer of turquoise. It is located northwest of Tonopah, Nevada in the turquoise rich area called the Royston Mining District which also includes Pilot Mountain, Easter Blue, Blue Moon, Lone ountain, and Candelaria. The turquoise ore is in the form of veins and nuggets enveloped in a tan limonite host rock. As pictured here, Royston cabs range from clear sky blue to a variety of webbed blue greens to a deep dark green often referred to as “military” green with tan to dark brown matrix. Fine spider-webbing is relatively rare in Royston cabs as most of the matrix is in the form of attractive tan patches and wisps against the brightly colored turquoise background. Also relatively rare are the cabs with white turquoise combined with light blue to green in the same cabs.
Sleeping Beauty Turquoise
Sleeping beauty turquoise, often called robins egg blue due to the matrix of the stone and it's natural blue tone. It is of the most attractive colors turquoise has to offer. The sleeping beauty mine collapsed in recent years with no mentioned if it will ever open again. In the years since, the price sleeping beauty turquoise has sky rocketed,
Stormy Mountain Turquoise
The Stormy Mountain mine was located near the ghost town of Tenabo, Nevada. It is very hard material and seldom requires stabilization. Stormy Mountain cabochons are characterized by a preponderance of black chert patches and white schist swirls against a blue to grey-blue turquoise background. This look reminded the original mine owners of storm clouds in the sky. This turquoise ranges from almost clear (rare) to the prototypical blue with chert webbing. Fine spider-webbed matrixes are very rare, attractive, and expensive. Stormy Mountain has not been open for many years and what material is available is from private stashes. It never gained wide market popularity due to the rarity of attractive stones. Much more common are the unattractive gray-blue cabs with black blotches or smears.
Tyrone refers to the turquoise mined from a number of claims including the Tyrone copper mine near Silver City, New Mexico. Some of the claims were worked by Indians beginning hundreds of years ago. All together, an enormous amount of high quality hard green to blue turquoise has been produced by these mines over the last 100 years. No longer mined, the Tyrone turquoise which is on the market is from private stashes some of which are quite large. Tyrone is highly collectible as a turquoise representative of all of the related mines in the southwest New Mexico area.
The mined turquoise ore is found in the form of nuggets, veins, and occasionally large seams which are comprised of both turquoise and limonite host rock. Tyrone turquoise is predominantly a light sky blue to darker blue and is usually seen with a sparse tan to black web matrix. The rare deep bright blue Tyrone with golden to tan matrix resembles both Bisbee and Persian turquoise and is highly attractive. Overall, much of the turquoise produced is of a washed-out green to bluish green color and is seldom seen in jewelry because it is not very attractive. Spider webbed material is rare and highly desirable. Ultra-rare and gorgeous are the very deep dark blue stones with mottled tan to black matrix occasionally seen with iron pyrite.