NATURAL, ENHANCED, STABILIZED, AND RECONSTRUCTED TURQUOISE: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
“How to distinguish natural turquoise from stabilized or reconstructed one?”
When buying a jewel with turquoise stones, it is important to understand the difference between a real turquoise gemstone and its cheaper variants. Many of the imitations on the market are difficult to distinguish from the natural one. However, it is essential to understand what the various types of turquoise are not only to guess the right price of the stone but also for the caring process.
If you want to find out how to distinguish the varieties of turquoise with one glance, keep reading our new article!
Turquoise is a gemstone whose value increases with its rarity, and its rarity is determined by the ability or not that a turquoise stone does not crumble once extracted and can be cut and polished without any treatment. This type of turquoise is the so-called natural turquoise, the most sought-after one.
In the past, turquoise could be found in many different places in the world, but as some of the most important extraction sites closed – in particular the mines in Arizona – rarity and price increased year by year. Estimates regarding the current availability of natural turquoise are variable, but it is estimated that only 30% of the extracted turquoise is hard enough to be cut and polished without any further treatment, and merely the 3% is considered gemstone quality material.
Enhanced turquoise is natural turquoise that undergone an electrochemical process known as Zachery. This process consists in a “bath” of minerals identical to those found in natural turquoise along with a charge of electrical current. Through this process, the porosity of the stone decreases, the intensity of the natural color increases, and the material become harder without adding plastic materials. Unlike what one might think, enhanced turquoise is still one of the best qualities of turquoise, and that is because only medium-high quality turquoise can withstand the Zachery method; low-quality turquoise will break or crumble if undergone this process. To understand if a turquoise stone is enhanced or not, it is possible to use a spectroscope.
Stabilized turquoise is the most common type of turquoise available on the market. Since most of the extracted turquoise is unusable in its natural state, stabilization allows it to improve its characteristics. The stabilization process consists in the addition of epoxy to lower grade turquoise through pressure. This process not only hardens the stone, but it also intensifies the color; in addition, it is possible to use it for all types of turquoise, both on low and higher quality turquoise stones.
Reconstructed turquoise is a mix of turquoise powder and other plastic materials such as epoxy. What distinguishes this type of turquoise is the “plastic” feel to the touch compared to a natural turquoise stone. As reconstructed turquoise has traces of natural turquoise, it is classified as low-quality turquoise and mostly used for cheaper jewelry. It is often preferred to natural turquoise because its composition makes it looks “perfect”, without the natural imperfections that characterize turquoise gemstone.
WHEN BUYING TURQUOISE, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO?
Natural turquoise, therefore, has a higher value and price than enhanced, stabilized, or reconstructed turquoise; consequently, the value of the jewel will be different. It is always important to rely on qualified dealers who are able to provide accurate information on the origin of their products.
In closing, it is good to remember that, sometimes, stabilized turquoise is preferred to natural one because, thanks to its plastic component, it does not change its color (which is one of the characteristics of natural turquoise).