What to look for when purchasing your Turquoise Jewelry

What to look for when purchasing your Turquoise Jewelry

Turquoise is a popular gemstone that has been prized for centuries for its unique blue-green color and natural beauty. It is commonly used in silversmith jewelry and has become a staple in Southwestern-style jewelry. However, not all turquoise is created equal, and there are different grades and qualities to consider when purchasing jewelry with turquoise cabochons.

Turquoise Grades

The grading of turquoise is a complex process that takes into account many factors, including how it is made, color, matrix, and hardness. Turquoise is generally classified into several grades, ranging from reconstituted to high-grade.

Block/Reconstituted "turquoise" is a type of turquoise that is commonly used in jewelry making. It is a composite material that is made by pulverizing small fragments of natural turquoise and then reconstituting them with resin or other binding agents. (We do not use this)

Stabilized turquoise is a type of turquoise that has been treated with a stabilizing agent, such as resin or epoxy, to improve its durability and enhance its color. Low grade turquoise is a porous gemstone that can be susceptible to damage from exposure to moisture, heat, and chemicals. Stabilization involves filling the pores of the stone with a clear, colorless resin or epoxy, which helps to protect the stone from damage and discoloration. The stabilizing process can also enhance the color and pattern of the turquoise, making it more vibrant and uniform in appearance. Stabilized turquoise is a popular choice for jewelry makers because it is more affordable and easier to work with than natural, untreated turquoise. However, it is important to note that stabilized turquoise is considered to be of lower quality than natural turquoise and may not have the same value or rarity. (We occasionally use this)

Backed natural turquoise is a type of turquoise that has been reinforced with a backing material for added strength and durability without introducing resin into the stone. Natural turquoise is still a somewhat porous stone that can be fragile and prone to breakage, especially if it has any fissures or other imperfections. To address this issue, jewelry makers may add a backing material to the stone to provide additional support. (We use this)

High-grade turquoise is the most valuable and sought-after. It is hard, vibrant in color, and contains little or no matrix. High-grade turquoise is rare and expensive, making it a prized addition to any piece of jewelry. (We use this)

Turquoise Quality

When purchasing silversmith jewelry with turquoise cabochons, it is important to consider the quality of the stone. Here are some factors to look for:

Color: The color of the turquoise should be even and vibrant. It should not have any brown or gray undertones, which indicate low-quality stone.

Matrix: The matrix is the host rock that the turquoise forms in, and it can add interest and character to the stone. However, it should be evenly distributed and not overpower the turquoise.

Texture: The surface of the turquoise should be smooth

Treatment: Some turquoise may be treated to enhance its color or durability. It is important to ask the seller if the stone has been treated and to what extent. (This is the case with Stabilized and artificial turquoise)

Setting: The setting of the turquoise in the jewelry should be secure and well-made. The metal should not cover too much of the stone, allowing it to be seen and appreciated.

WARNINGS: Many Sellers use the terms "Authentic Turquoise" this term just means that turquoise is used in some way when forming the cabochon (Polished stone). Another term often mis-used is "Natural Turquoise". Sellers should be able to tell you which mine the stone came from and exactly what quality it is. Avoid sellers with vague statements.


In conclusion, when purchasing silversmith jewelry with turquoise cabochons, it is important to consider the grade and quality of the stone. High-grade turquoise is the most valuable and sought-after, but Natural Backed turquoise can still make beautiful jewelry. Look for even color, well-distributed matrix, smooth texture, and a secure setting. By taking the time to consider these factors, you can ensure that you are purchasing a piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime and be treasured for generations to come.

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