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Turquoise set in 925 silver.
Turquoise is the birthstone of December. It is one of the first ever gemstones to be mined and has long been prized for its intense color. Turquoise is a widely available stone, however it is rarely found in its pure, natural form.
Turquoise has been beloved for thousands of years in multiple locations around the world. As a result, it has some of the very oldest traditions of any healing stone. The name Turquoise comes from the French phrase, pierre turquoise, or “Turkish Stone”. During the Medieval period, the Turks were responsible for introducing Persian Turquoise and Central Asian Turquoise into Europe, via Venetian merchants.
The earliest known Turquoise jewelry dates back to the very dawn of civilization. Four Gold and Turquoise bracelets were found on the arms of the mummy of the Egyptian Queen Zer (5500 BCE). The Turquoise most likely came from the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Turquoise mine was one of the most extensively documented and organized mining operations of the ancient world. It produced a more greenish-colored Turquoise, rather than the sky-blue Turquoise found in central Asian mines. Egyptian records dating as far back as the reign of Pharaoh Semerkhet (c.2961 BCE), describe the Sinai Turquoise mine as requiring thousands of laborers. The Turquoise extracted was used to make jewelry and ornaments ranging from weapon hilts to amulets, and was sometimes even used to decorate royal thrones. According to Egyptian papyri records, Turquoise was connected to numerous deities, including Amun and Isis, and was a particularly valuable amulet for protecting and healing the eyes.
Arab, Persian, and Turkish writers have often included passages about Turquoise in medical treatises. It was believed to offer general protection and healing, particular for the eyes, as well as staving off everything from sunstroke to epilepsy, and from scorpion stings to the ‘evil eye’. Small Turquoise beads have been used on bridles and have been woven into horse and camel manes since time untold, to protect them from the harsh desert sun and to give them vigor and energy for long journeys. This belief that Turquoise protects horses and riders was transported to Europe around the 17th century and continues to be believed by many equestrians worldwide. Turquoise is particularly thought to protect both rider and horse from injuries caused by a fall. While the Sinai mines have long since played out, similar mines in Iran and Afghanistan still actively produce beautiful stones. Persian and Afghani Turquoise was widely traded throughout the Eurasian continent, as far west as Europe and east into India and Nepal. Today, Turquoise is the national gemstone of Iran. Turquoise from this region has a very even sky-blue color, and is slightly harder than North American Turquoise, which ranges from sky-blue to green. Modern gem lore in Iran states that Turquoise brings good luck, and if the color changes it is a warning of either danger or infidelity. Turquoise can, in fact, change color because it is a porous mineral.
For those who work with chakras, turquoise is tied to the throat chakra, Visuddha. Its chakra correspondence overlaps with its healing and magical properties — it’s associated with the throat chakra, used to heal allergies and organs associated with breath, and employed in magic to improve communication.