(Turquoise and diamond earrings, Michele Della Valle; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
Turquoise has a history that goes as far back as 4000 BC and the proof is in the Egyptian pudding, so to speak; it was the Egyptian tombs that held remnants of the ancient civilisation and this precious gemstone featured among those remains. The Egyptians referred to the gem by the name “mefkat” which translates into joy, it proves to be a rather fitting description since the colour is easy on the eyes and quite pleasing. It still plays a significant role in modern society even after all these years.
The turquoise is an opaque gem and unlike diamonds and rubies, it does not possess the clarity, transparency and sparkle that one would find in a crystal gem. Having said that, it is rather porous in comparison to other gemstones; 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, which makes it easy to carve, which, in turn, is why the jewellery made of turquoise can not only be cut into a cabochon or beads but cut into a flat inlay perfect as a surface to be carved into.
(Turquoise, Ruby and Diamond Necklace, Bulgari; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
This porosity and texture of the turquoise are rooted in its structure; the makeup of its solid mass is formed by clusters of closely or loosely packed tiny crystals. Needless to say, the closer the crystals are packed, the harder the material, the finer the texture and all the more durable is the stone as a whole; making it less susceptible to breakage and far more marketable. Add to that the finer, shinier surface which will generate more of a sparkle making it more appealing as a gemstone.
More about this precious stone in the next post!