Turquoise, Composition and History

  • By Wendy Lippman
  • 16 Oct, 2017

Turquoise, Composition and History Part 1 

Cocopah , Arizona’s oldest bead store, is committed to dealing in historic, ethnic and rare beads. Turquoise has always been the most significant bead we represent. It was an intricate part of the history, lore and trade of Pre-Columbian Indians in the Southwest and along the ancient trade routes to South America. As all the mines but Kingman have closed, it has become yet more precious and costly. Imitation materials are sold everywhere as Turquoise. Visitors constantly ask us how to tell the real from the fake. We want to share with you some fascinating information about this mythic stone.
Turquoise is a hydrated phosphate of aluminum and copper, formed by water seeping into rock flush with phosphorous, aluminum and copper.  It usually forms near copper deposits.  This mineral-rich water occupies cavities in the rock and, when it evaporates, leaves Turquoise created from a mix of these components and other local elements that will ultimately affect the hue.  Turquoise forms in a diverse range of color from pale to deep blue and dark green, due to the addition of local trace elements.   Most Turquoise mines are located in dry desert areas such as the Southwestern United States, Iran, China, and Afghanistan.
Antique Navajo Traditional Necklace, circa 1920. Contains natural Turquoise from a variety of mines in the Southwest. Available at Cocopah.
The documented history of Turquoise dates to approximately 4000 BC and the Turquoise mines of northeastern Persia.  Gem quality Turquoise has been located in the burial sites of Persian nobles from that region.  The most fabled Egyptian mine dates to 3000 BC, located on the Sinai Penisula in an area known Serabit el-Khadim.  This mine supplied pharaohs and royalty with gemstones for jewelry and artifacts.  Turquoise jewelry has been unearthed in almost all significant burials of Egyptian royalty since the beginning of archaeological excavation in Egypt.

The word 'Turquoise' comes from the French term, pierre turquoise, meaning gemstone from Turkey.  In the 17th century, French traders found quantities of excellent Turquoise in the bazaars of  Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir and assumed that Turkey was the source.  Much later they discovered that it was mined in Persia.
Vintage Sleeping Beauty necklace, natural color, unstabilized, circa 1970, created at Santa Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. Available at Cocopah in Tlaquepaque
As late as the early 20th century, there were more than 40 mines producing Turquoise in the American states of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.  At the present time, only the mine at Kingman, Arizona is in full operation.  In September 2012, the Sleeping Beauty mine unexpectedly shut down because it was mined out.  There is speculation that if they can dig down another one thousand feet, there might be more.   This is uncertain and the price to continue mining is prohibitive.  In 1960, the legendary #8 Spiderweb Turquoise mine in Nevada stopped production.   Originally, it had just been called the #8 mine, but Native Americans called it '#8 Spiderweb' and the name stuck.  In Native American culture, #8 Spiderweb is the  most desired of all the Turquoises ever mined in the Southwest.  The delicate pattern of the matrix (deposits of mineral or rock that form patterns in the Turquoise) is highly desirable and the true turquoise color of the stone is most remarkable.  It is interesting to note here that while Europeans and East Coast Americans often desire the pristine robin's egg blue of Persian Turquoise with its lack of matrix, Tibetans and Native Americans favor a Turquoise with interesting patterns of matrix.
Beads of natural and un-stabilized Sleeping Beauty Turquoise available at Cocopah at Tlaquepaque.
Please check back or sign up for our newsletter posts to receive segment two and three of the History of Turquoise....all items and additional information is available and provided by Cocopah at Tlaquepaque.
By Wendy Lippman 16 Oct, 2017
Cocopah , Arizona’s oldest bead store, is committed to dealing in historic, ethnic and rare beads. Turquoise has always been the most significant bead we represent. It was an intricate part of the history, lore and trade of Pre-Columbian Indians in the Southwest and along the ancient trade routes to South America. As all the mines but Kingman have closed, it has become yet more precious and costly. Imitation materials are sold everywhere as Turquoise. Visitors constantly ask us how to tell the real from the fake. We want to share with you some fascinating information about this mythic stone.
By Wendy Lippman 13 Oct, 2017
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village has provided the perfect setting for South of the Border fiestas, festivals and cultural extravaganzas for the last four decades.  One of the most popular comes at the end of October, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.   This time honored traditioin from Mexico, celebrated all over South, Central and now North America, remembers loved ones who have passed on.  This year the Day of the Dead celebration will take place on Saturday, October 28th from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m., with a full line-up of musical entertainment and cultural experiences.
By Wendy Lippman 27 Sep, 2017
Fall in Sedona is a favorite time of the year, and at Tlaquepaque  it's high season, filled with festivals and popular events that happily bring Sedona residents and visitors together.  Forty-five years ago founder Abe Miller envisioned Tlaquepaque as a community gathering place to recreate Fiestas from Old Mexico.   Since that time, we have worked hard to keep the most time honored traditions alive.
By Wendy Lippman 15 Sep, 2017
Tlaquepaque North is open!  With its three impressive new buildings and a major renovation of a former cobblestone home, all are beautifully congruent architecturally, seamlessly mirroring the main arts village.   Tlaquepaque, now on both sides of the street, functions as a gateway to the Sedona Gallery District.  New tenants to Tlaquepaque North include : The Pump House Station Urban Eatery and Market, Caravana North, The Artist's Kitchen Shop, Renee Taylor Jewelry and Quilts Ltd.
By Wendy Lippman 02 Aug, 2017
The many fountains in Tlaquepaque offer soothing respite for visitors, especially in the balmy months of summer.  In Old Mexico, fountains were located in the central village square, serving as a place to gather water, meet friends and catch up on the latest news.   Tlaquepaque visionary Abe Miller sought to capture that sense of place and purpose at Tlaquepaque as well.  During special times of the year, its fountains are transformed into spectacular seasonal displays with gourds, vines, roots, squashes and pumpkins in the fall, and trimmings like holly, ornamental balls and handmade signature serape ornaments during the holiday season.  Any time of year the gurgling, splashing water from the fountains brings a magical element to an already magical environment.

By Wendy Lippman 05 Jun, 2017

Tlaquepaque “Best of Everything” Union!


By Wendy Lippman 05 Jun, 2017

There’s nothing quite like falling head over heels in love. Sometimes that love is so strong you just want to run off and get married immediately. Eloping can be crazy and romantic, but there’s still some planning that needs to happen. Yes, it’s true! If you ever considered a destination for your elopement, consider Tlaquepaque’s Chapel in Sedona, Arizona.


By Wendy Lippman 05 Jun, 2017

There is no right or wrong when it comes to weddings from ceremonies to receptions more and more brides and grooms are personalizing their weddings. Today’s couples are mixing old with the new for ways to make their wedding stand out from the rest. Make your wedding day as special and unforgettable as you both are and put your imagination to good use. Marriage is about two unique individuals coming together as one, so don’t be afraid to step out of the box.

Tlaquepaque has had great brides and grooms with amazing ideas, from dessert bars to candy stations. Ideas range from placing a romantic seating area for the bride and groom to relax and enjoy their evening and guests. You can take it a step further and incorporate sofas and coffee tables to break up a traditional wedding reception set up.

Another great idea so as to not keep your guests waiting taking photos is a First Look. About 70% of couples opt to have a first look before their ceremony. This is where they can capture that special moment and take a minute to breathe and shake off some of that anxiety that has been brewing all day. Some of our photographers have captured some great moments.

We hope you enjoy these ideas and photos.

By Wendy Lippman 05 Jun, 2017

Guest books have come a long way….

Do something unique and different besides having the boring old paper guest book. Be creative and make “Your Wedding You ” and I think the guest book is a great place to show your personality and have a little fun.

There are so many ideas out there. One if the more popular ideas is using the game Jenga. Using the fun game of Jenga turns blocks into a guest signing success.

You could stack the pieces and have your guests remove their own block and write a message or you could put the pieces into a container of your choice.

There are many ways to create your display, so remember to have fun with it and make it your own. Don’t forget a catchy sign.

Every time you play the game, it will bring back all the memories of your special day for years to come.

By Wendy Lippman 05 Jun, 2017

Andrea Carusetta, owner and artist of Sedona Cake Couture, created a display cake for Tlaquepaque which is truly amazing and captured the true essence of Tlaquepaque, inspired by the rustic walls and Mexican tile throughout our beautiful village.


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