The Saga of American Turquoise
The beauty, spiritual power, and unique elegance of American Turquoise, an essential part of Native American culture, was embraced by a movement circulated by the media in mainstream America in the 70’s. This brought turquoise into the spotlight. The famous Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show began to feature turquoise by all major dealers and created the biggest jewelry rush ever, making turquoise a household word and worn by everyone! The huge popularity continued to mushroom over the next few years. The prices tripled and by 1980 it became impossible to find any authentic, high-quality turquoise.
In 1985, the Chinese introduced its turquoise at the Tucson Gem Show. Foreign production costs, paying as little as a dollar a day, could produce a product for far less than anyone else. Foreign turquoise rapidly took over the market here in the states and around the world, bottoming out the price and viability of American turquoise.
By 1990, most American mines had shut down, and the mostly elderly mine owners bulldozed their mines, keeping their secrets to themselves. Thinking to halt production temporarily, but foreign turquoise kept coming, and mines remained closed and most never reopened. Many of the other mines turned to copper and gold with a variety of results.
Now all Arizona mines are closed except for the Kingman Mine and 160 of the most important turquoise mines on earth are closed except for the Royston mines in Nevada, still in production. After all these years, reclaiming these mines has become hugely expensive, government restrictions on mining and the question of how productive it could be, have prevented further exploration. Nevertheless, the prices of authentic turquoise are at an all time high, excitement about turquoise, and the romance surrounding it is growing and the thrill and opportunity of “treasure hunting” may once again open the door to our own incredible treasure waiting to be rediscovered.