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Roger Weller, geology instructor            regional geology  planetary  gems

Ellie Wilson

Mr. Roger Weller

Physical Geology

Fall 2008


                 One of the most beautiful gems and my favorite is the turquoise which is an opaque, blue –to -green mineral of hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum and the formula for this gem is composed of CuAI6 (PO4)4 (HO)8- 4H2 O.

                The term turquoise derives from the “French “ language “turquois” a dark –blue stone traded and brought to European markets by Venetian traders.

                The turquoise is rare, ancient and very valuable of many fine grades and it has been used as ornaments for thousands of years all due to its unique arrays of variable colors.  The colors range from white to powder blue to sky blue and even yellowish- green color.

                In Bisbee Arizona we have the Bisbee Blue Turquoise from the Lavender Pit,
famous all over the world for the deep radiant blue features, and this deep blue is due to the idiochromatic (having characteristic coloration), copper and the green color could be the result of iron impurities or dehydration.  The Bisbee Blue turquoise commonly has a hard brown colored matrix.

Bisbee turquoise-photo by Roger Weller

Bisbee turquoise-Photo by Roger Weller

Turquoise Vein from Bisbee Arizona

This is a turquoise vein from Bisbee Arizona, and the term vein in geology refers to a tubular mass of mineral in the fissures, cracks and crevices of an igneous rock. The veins differ greatly in their composition of the material they are intruding. Arizona is one of the main producers of turquoise and the turquoise is mainly a byproduct of copper mining and the Bisbee Blue is by far one of the best turquoises around the world.

Photo is copyright free for non-commercial educational purposes Just credit photo to R.Weller/Cochise college


Image:Turquoise with quartz.jpg 

This is a Turquoise matrix with quartz from Mineral Park in Arizona. Taken by Aram Dulyam

                 Green turquoise vein:

Green turquoise veins


Uses of Turquoise:

The turquoise has been used around the world as protection from the powers of darkness, and the Egyptians believed that those who signed a contract wearing a turquoise ring will never know poverty. The ancient used turquoise to inlaid ornaments to decorate their homes and churches. They also believe that it will protect them and their horse from unexpected fall.

Even today in modern history this gem is used as protection for pilots, their crew and those who work in high risk jobs.  The Pueblo’s tribe from the Chacon Canyon has the superstition that the turquoise brought them great wealth and many jewelry and artifacts were created by the tribes. 

Perry Shorty BraceletTrade in turquoise crafts, such as this freeform pendant dating from 1000–1040 CE, is believed to have brought the Ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon great wealth.

Chaco pendant (1000-1040)

 R.Weller/Cochise College

     The turquoise bracelet comes from Kingman mines which were mined by Leonard Hardy a shovel operator in the Miami- Globe area in 1949 and he become interested in making jewelry, marketed  and began an operation of selling turquoises jewelry.

     The turquoise is considered the Gem of the Southwest.Bisbee turquoise is as good as it gets. It is a hard turquoise with shades from light to dark blue and a brown to black or sometimes called ‘Smokey’ matrix. Located near Bisbee, Arizona, it is a by-product of a large coppers mine, usually coming from the section known as the ‘Lavender Pit’. The mine no longer produces, thus making Bisbee one of the rarest turquoises. This, plus its quality makes Bisbee one of the most expensive, collectable and sought after turquoise”. (Permission from Nevada


bisbee #2


The sleeping beauty comes from the sleeping beauty mine mountain in Globe Arizona. The turquoise is a favorite of the Zuni Pueblo.



Physical characteristics of turquoise:

    One of the Turquoise properties is the hardness which ranges from 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale.

As a Hydrated Copper Aluminum Phosphate mineral, turquoise is composed of aluminum, copper, phosphorus, hydrogen and oxygen. Turquoise is an example of a typical phosphate as it is often strongly colored and average in hardness ( and


Strike: White

Hardness: 5-6

Luster: Dull to Waxy

Transparency: semi-transparent to opaque

Crystal Habits: Crystals rarely visible without microscope

Fracture: Conchoidal and smooth

Cleavage: Perfect in 2 directions, rarely seen.

Specific Gravity: 2.6-2.9

Chemistry: CuA16 (P0 4)4(OH) 8 4H20


Associate minerals are: pyrite, limonite, quartz, and clay.

Other Characteristics: color can change with exposure to skin oils.

Courtesy of www.thegemdugout.comCourtesy of www.thegemdugout.comCourtesy of www.thegemdugout.comCourtesy of www.thegemdugout.comCourtesy of www.thegemdugout.comCourtesy of

Formation of Turquoise:

 Turquoise is formed from the pre- existing minerals as secondary mineral during the percolating acidic aqueous solution that happens by weathering and oxidation and is an Opaque, cryptocrystalline mineral, composed chiefly of hydrated aluminum phosphate, Al2(OH)3PO4· H2O.

Mostly turquoise is found in climates that very dried.

Notable Occurrences: include Arizona and New Mexico, USA; Australia; Iran; Afghanistan and other localities in the Middle East.

Works cited for this report are as follow:

Dulyan, Aram.    Oct 9th 2008.

  Oct 9th 2008.

Perkins. p472, http:/

  Oct 8th 2008.

           Weller, Roger. Roger Weller, geology instructor. Cochise College

            October 9th 2008.