So, why is North American turquoise in such short supply?
At Dakota Stones, we're aware how much our customers love turquoise. Even when it's not featured in a sale, our various styles of turquoise are in steady demand, particularly the North American turquoise.
|To get a better perspective, we talked with Dakota Stones Owner Jeff Elvin:|
The number of active mines is fairly limited and shrinking. Converting the Sleeping Beauty mine back to the copper industry was a huge loss. Also, the amount of material the mines are yielding has reduced and the size of the pieces the mines are producing are smaller in size.
What do people love about it?
It's got to be the color. It is such a unique color to come out of the ground, as well as the long history of turquoise in finished jewelry design. It seems to be as American as apple pie.
What is it that you like about turquoise?
I like how a lot of turquoise has a very distinct look and how you can identify it by the mine originated from. There are only a select few gemstones that you can do this with.
How does it differ from the Chinese varieties, or African varieties, or others?
"African Turquoise" is not an actual turquoise, but rather an industry name given to a green-and-turquoise-colored Jasper.
The North American versions we carry have the names of the mines associated with them?
"Sleeping Beauty, Kingman, Campitos, Caballo Campitos -- these are all names of turquoise mines, either in the U.S. or Mexico."
What are the histories of the turquoise mines?
"The Sleeping Beauty Mine produced copper and turquoise for 40 years, before ending turquoise mining in 2012 in order to focus on copper. The Kingman Mine, which began mining in the 1880s, is still exploring and could continue to find new veins. The Campitos turquoise comes from a mine in Sonora, Mexico, that has been in production since the 1980s. There are a few other mines -- some still producing, some closed -- scattered across Arizona, Nevada and into Mexico."
When the turquoise from these mines is gone, where will customers get North American turquoise?
Once the mine is closed, you will only be able to find "old stock" collections of rough, cabs or slabs. Luckily, mine owners, miners and collectors have always kept a nice stash of turquoise from various mines and will usually part with it down the road for the right price.
Are we going to continue carrying N.A. turquoise?
We will do our best to keep some version of a top-quality line of American-mined turquoise available. It is often out of our control as to whether we can continue to get a specific stone type or shape.