Customers often ask if I can tell if a turquoise stone they purchased is treated or an imitation. This post is part of my, "What to Know When You're Collecting" series. I hope it will help you understand a little bit more about this wonderfully collectable and delicate gemstone.
Is my stone stabilized or treated?
It is extremely likely your stone is treated in some way. Most turquoise on the market is stabilized to make it hard enough for use in jewelry. There is very little high quality natural hard Mohs scale 5+ turquoise available, less than 12%. Even top grade, otherwise natural stones often get a surface coat of paraffin wax to seal them and enhance the polish, leaving only 3% on the market sold untreated in a natural state.
Most modern turquoise stones are "stabilized", meaning dyed and plasticized. In America customers generally expect turquoise to be a stable sky blue. As a result turquoise gemstones are often processed beyond any resemblance to their natural state. Stabilized cabs are less likely to change color and shine than natural or untreated stones.
Price can tell you quite a bit about a stone. If a stone is priced very low, then it's usually a sign it's inferior quality, treated, or fake. While treated stones do require some extra care, they are usually quite attractive and have a lower price tag, making them popular and easy to love.
Do you have real turquoise?
The answer is maybe. There are a number of different stones that look similar to turquoise, and are often dyed to imitate it. Unfortunately, treated, reconstituted and imitation turquoise can be made to look remarkably like collectible stones. Sellers are required by law to disclose information about any enhancements made to stones, but not every enhancement can be verified. Always ask specifically what mine the stone came from. If they don't know then assume the stone is of lesser quality, fake, or reconstituted. They best way to make sure you know the treatment of a stone is to buy from a reputable seller. A reputable seller will proudly share the mine the stone originated from and other information.
For large purchases, ask if the stone has certified documentation by a licenced gemologist, or if it can be before purchase. There are numerous enhancements that can be very difficult to detect without detailed knowledge and the right testing equipment.
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