Turquoise’s History in the American Southwest

Turquoise has been looked upon with great fondness by Native American’s for more than 1,000 years. It is one the top precious gemstones used by custom jewelers in the manufacturing of custom jewelry. Turquoise was used by Native American’s to compliment their appearance and to protect their burial grounds.

In America turquoise has been mined for as far back as several hundred years. Its largest deposits have been located mostly throughout the southwest, but for the most part in California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. It is a fact that turquoise mines in these states have been the source of the premium and most wanted turquoise gemstones on the planet for several decades.  To no one’s surprise during more recent mining of these turquoise mines there have been discoveries of ancient mining tools that the Native American’s used 100’s of years ago to take turquoise out of the ground.

Several of the turquoise mines in the southwest have been closed for decades because the turquoise in them was all mined out.  The reason for this is twofold. One is that turquoise has been popular for decades and decades and two it was sold to jeweler by salesman until there was no more to sell.  Several of the turquoise mines are still producing turquoise in Nevada and Arizona.


Nevada has more turquoise mines than any other state in America. The big reason for this is that not all the mines in Nevada are secondary turquoise mining sites next to copper mining operations.

In Mineral County Nevada in the ghost town of Candelaria, there is turquoise mine called the Candelaria mine located in the open-pit copper, silver, and gold mine. For years it produced premium quality turquoise stones, but like most mines the deposits are mostly depleted because they are hard to reach and they have been thinned out.

The plethora of turquoise mines in Nevada are nothing to laugh at. The turquoise stones from the mines throughout the state are treasured by both collectors and jewelers because they are stunning and rare. Mine names in Nevada include Blue Diamond, Blue Ice, Blue Jay, and Blue Gem.


Most turquoise mines in the state of Arizona are in open-pit copper mines. These mines focused on copper so the precious gemstone, turquoise was not its main asset or focus. During mining operations at these copper mines, the miners would reach out to their chief connections for turquoise stone purchases when they came across large turquoise deposits. It makes sense that turquoise stones would be discovered in these copper mines due to the fact that turquoise is hydrated aluminum and copper phosphate.

The Bisbee Lavender Pit in the Arizona was on the first deposits of turquoise in the American market for turquoise gemstones. The Bisbee Lavender Pit is part of the Copper Queen copper mine. The turquoise stones from this deposit are bright blue with incredible webbing features that are both brown and dark chocolate in color. The Kingman mine produces turquoise with webbing features that are black in color. The turquoise from this mine is so visually breathtaking that its look at as the jewelry standard for high-quality turquoise.


Birdseye Kingman Turquoise
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