| Hubei Turquoise: Myth or Fact?
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
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
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) -
Erin, Dakota Stones