Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Genuine Fake

While visiting in the southwest we had the opportunity to visit the Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque, NM. It was fascinating!  

Image from the Turquoise Museum Web site

The museum was founded by Jesse and Lillian Zachary in 1993. Today it is operated by their grandson, Joe Dan Lowry.  The museum is a repository for collections begun by Jesse and Lillian, and pieces collected by Joe Dan's parents, as well as those he and his wife Davonna have found on their travels around the world.

Image from the Turquoise Museum Web site

One of the fascinating things about turquoise is that it is a gemstone that varies from mine to mine, and an expert can usually tell by looking at the stone, where it was mined! The stones vary in color and clarity or matrix (the veining caused by other minerals).
The museum educates visitors to help them select turquoise of value, and not imitations or treated minerals. 95% of the turquoise you see today is imitation. It could be colored plastic or low grade stones treated with oil and pressure. They warned us not to ask, "Is this real?", because, if you can hold it, it is real! Instead, one should ask if it is natural. By law, the vender risks consequences if he misrepresents a piece.
Should you find yourself near Albuquerque, taking a tour of the museum is well worth it. Our trip included a great presentation by Joe Dan's son and a few moments in the turquoise shop associated with the museum. Dreaming didn't intend to purchase anything, honest, she didn't! But she fell under the spell of the dark green hue of the turquoise in this little ring. She just had to buy it!


  1. Pretty! They say that experts can tell where opals were mined too.


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