Posted by Erin on 4/8/2018 to Articles
We recently acquired a lot of vintage Hubei Turquoise. This is one of the rare instances where we chose to deal in pre-cut product in lieu of manufacturing our own. We considered the availability of similar-quality rough and found there wasn’t anything currently available that would result in equally awesome strands.
Since Hubei Turquoise comes from China, I want to debunk some myths about Chinese Turquoise generally, and give some more details about the significance of the Hubei variety.
Myth #1: Chinese Turquoise is “Fake” Turquoise
No. No. No. Chinese Turquoise got a bad name because disreputable or ignorant re-sellers attempted to pass off synthetic or composite stimulants as authentic. True Chinese Turquoise comes out of a mine, just like North American varieties. Unlike North American Turquoise, the stone is not named for the specific mine and the overly vague (and loaded) term “Chinese Turquoise” is applied. The best Turquoise mines in China are located in the Hubei region. Since our special batch came exclusively from Hubei mines, we feel it’s important to make the distinction.
Myth #2: Only North American Turquoise is Rare and Valuable
There was a period of time where North American Turquoise was abundant and relatively inexpensive- but then mines started to close and prices skyrocketed. At least one major Hubei mine has closed in the last five years. At the same time, Turquoise jewelry has become fashionable in China and less available for export. Prices have already increased substantially, and some believe that, like its North American counterparts, Hubei Turquoise will increase dramatically in price over the next 5-10 years.
Side Note: In 2012, I bought a triple strand of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. I was hesitant because it was expensive. At the time, I thought that the vendor was just trying to close the sale by telling me the price would only go up-up-up since the mine had closed. To get something similar today, I’d have to pay at least 8 times what I paid a few years ago.
Myth 3: North American Turquoise is Objectively “Prettier”
Yikes! NO! North American Turquoise has some cool things going for it, but there are distinct qualities in Hubei Turquoise that aren’t replicated in any North American varieties. For example, Hubei Turquoise is widely accepted to have the most striking “spider webbing” in its matrix, as well as the widest range of color hue and intensity. Hubei Turquoise may have the brilliant colors associated with North American Turquoise varieties and frequently resembles specimens from now-closed Nevada mines, but it can also range from blues and greens to tan and rust.
Hubei Turquoise also has the most dramatic combination of bold blues, greens, and dark matrices.
Takeaway: Hubei Turquoise is just as much Turquoise as Campitos, Sleeping Beauty, or any other variety. It’s currently less expensive, but probably won’t always be. And if you’re moved to design with it, it’s a question of personal aesthetic (and possible price-savvy) - nothing else.
Erin, Dakota Stones