Turquoise, an opaque gemstone that ranges in color from robins-egg blue to grass green, is a relatively rare gem found in only a few places on earth. It is formed in dry and barren regions where acidic, copper rich groundwater seeps downward and reacts with minerals containing phosphorous and alumnium. Turquoise's name is derived from the Turkish trade route along which these stones travelled to Europe in ancient times.
Turquoise has long be prized for it's talismanic properities and is one of the world's most ancient gems. Archeological excavations revealed that the rulers of Ancient Egypt adorned themselves with turquoise jewelry and carved ornamental representations of their gods out of it. Chinese artisans have been carving the stone for over 3000 years. In fact Turquoise has long been the national stone of Tibet and is believed to guarantee health, good fortune, and protection from evil. It was also revered and used as a ceremonial stone in Native American societies, particularly among the Navajo and Zuni.
Turquoise first made it's way to Europe during the 13th century where it was made into jewelry. Throughout the middle ages in Europe, the stone was considered a good luck charm and it's rarity and beautiful color quickly made it a status symbol. In the 17th century is was considered a staple for well-dressed men to wear the stone.
It's popularity grew in the 1800's with the reign of Queen Victoria who was a lover of turquoise. Upon her marriage to Prince Albert, the Queen gave a brooch in the image of an eagle made of tiny turquoise cabochons to one of her ladies in waiting and portrait rings surrounded by turquoise cabochons to each of her bridesmaids. The style stuck and much of the jewelry we see of this period is this 'pave turquoise'.
For my sixteenth birthday, my father gifted me a Victorian Turquoise ring that formed a dome of tiny blue-green, cabochons. The ring, which was sadly stolen became one of my most prized possessions and sparked my interest in the stone and jewelry of this era.
See some of our favorite pieces througout.
Credits: Images taken from Pinterest and Personal Collection. Facts from: GIA website and Lang Antiques blog.