Whether you’re a collector or looking to buy your first piece of turquoise jewelry, knowing how to assess the value of it will give you confidence in your decision. In this blog, we will look at two major factors -- color and matrix -- that we use ourselves to determine the value of turquoise.
Turquoise naturally occurs in colors ranging from dark blue to yellow-green. Blue hues of turquoise are caused by the presence of aluminum and copper and are commonly found in Arizona; green hues are caused by traces of zinc and iron and normally found in Nevada. While historically the most sought after turquoise shade is medium blue, lime-green turquoise has grown in popularity. A hot market for white turquoise also opened up fairly recently.
In general, stones with more uncommon naturally occurring features have higher value. Stones with rich, dark and even color and stones that are rare shades worth more because they’re harder to find. Similarly, sharp or harsh color transitions are less valuable than smooth, even color transitions.
A stone’s matrix is the fragment of non-turquoise natural material that appears as splotches or veins in the turquoise. The matrix consists of remnant minerals from the surrounding rock where the stone was formed. In some regions, these markings are considered as imperfections. But in the US, particularly the Southwest, the matrix is valued as high as the actual turquoise. The native American Indians considered stones with matrix a representation of the balance between Father Sky (the turquoise) and Mother Earth (the matrix).
A turquoise matrix can consist of a variety of elements from sandstone to quartz to pyrite and adds a distinctive pattern and quality to the stone. Similar to color, the value of each specific pattern of matrix is based on its rarity of natural occurrence. Turquoise can have a wide array of matrix colors, black to yellow to brown; and distinct patterns, spiderweb to calico.
Generally, the more evenly distributed the matrix is throughout the turquoise, the more valuable the stone is. The most sought after is a spiderweb matrix, where a thin, delicate web-like pattern runs throughout the turquoise. This is an extremely rare phenomenon, thus the most desired. Calico, named after the multi-colored calico cat pattern, is a mix of light and dark brown or black with flecks of metallic pyrite. Calico is also a rare pattern, but not as uncommon as the spiderweb matrix variations. Apart from pattern, a black colored matrix, usually formed by iron pyrite, is highly sought after because of its stunning contrast against the blue-green hues of turquoise.
|Rare Color Qualities||Rare Matrix Qualities|
|White turquoise||No matrix|
|Medium blue color||Microweb pattern|
|Rich, dark color||Calico pattern|
|Smooth, even color transitions||
I believe that matrix adds character to a stone. The varieties of stone colors and different formations of matrix make each turquoise one of its kind. Different from diamonds and some other kinds of precious stones, almost every turquoise stone is different from another. That’s the beauty of turquoise that I love about.
With all being said, choosing turquoise that is right for you is similar to selecting art for your home—it’s important to understand the value of individual pieces, but in the end you should choose what you’re attracted to and what brings you the most joy. If you have any questions about your turquoise collection, please visit our Facebook page and send us a message.