Turquoise mines

Turquoise mines

by Ashutosh Roy

History finds the trace of Turquoise mine even in 6000 BC. Egyptians had traced the first one in Maghara Wadi mines in Sinia Peninsula. The Alimersai Mountain region of Persia (now Iran) had become the producer of Best quality Turquoise.

Source of Turquoise – The Turquoise Mines

Have you ever thought of unearthing the sources of Turquoise, the “fallen sky stone”? In one word It is said to be the “gift” of whims of the nature.

First of all lets understand how Turquoise is formed. Turquoise is generally formed in arid climate. When meteoric or groundwater percolates through rocks that contain copper, Turquoise is formed. So the probability of finding Turquoise is more near the copper deposits.

History finds the trace of Turquoise mine even in 6000 BC. Egyptians had traced the first one in Maghara Wadi mines in Sinia Peninsula. The Alimersai Mountain region of Persia (now Iran) had become the producer of Best quality Turquoise. The term “Persian Turquoise” has become synonymous of the finest quality and has been defined as the standard of quality for comparison of other turquoise. Persian Turquoise, one of the most ancient turquoises produced by a series of mines. Nishapur, 225 miles from southern end of Caspian Sea, is the main region of Turquoise. There were three basic categories of Persian Turquoise, namely Anqushtari, Barkhaneh and Arabi. The finest Turquoise is still available in Iran and Tibet.

Turquoise has been produced in Tibet, China, Australia, Peru, Chile, Turkistan and Afghanistan. Large deposits are found in the arid climate like Mexico and other southwest United States.

It is heard that the Egyptians used to send slave convoys deep into the Arabian Dessert to extract Turquoise. Native American Pueblos used to dig deep into stony grounds to extract the precious stone, turquoise. In the earlier days, turquoise used to be collected by the rock hounds.

In late 1800 and early 1900 Turquoise mines were discovered in the western and southwestern part of USA. Some Crystals have been found in Virginia, Conejos area of Colorado, California and elsewhere.

The Cerillos and Burro Mountains, just ten miles south of Santa Fe of New Mexico were the largest producers of Turquoise till 1920. Cerrillos, is one of the most ancient mine of Turquoise. The specialty of this mine is that the turquoise is formed at the base of volcano. About 75 varieties in color were found. Cerrillo turquoise is very hard in nature. Enchantment mine near Ruidoso in the Sacramento Mountains of southeastern New Mexico produces deep green color Turquoise. Hachita mine had contributed a significant amount of Turquoise till 1905. The High Lonesome mine of southern New Mexico produces green color Turquoise, which are hard in nature. Santa Rita, used to produce blue and green turquoise. Tyrone mine, near silver city, New Mexico produced unique medium blue turquoise, but it is closed today.

Most of the Arizona mines produce blue turquoise due to the presence of Copper. Kingman mine in the Globe-Miami district of Arizona produces various blue color turquoises. Duval Pit, north of Kingman is said to be a turquoise-producing region. Morendi mines of Southeastern Arizona produces light blue Turquoise. Bisbee Blue mine, Arizona, is renowned for his hard in nature and high blue color Turquoise. Bisbee is one of the oldest mine. Castle Dome is another name. Birdseye mine in Arizona used to produce dark blue turquoise with light blue circles before closing down in 1980. Cave Creek mine is one of the newest Blue color turquoise producer in Arizona. Sleeping beauty, Globe, Arizona produces solid, light blue color turquoise and is perhaps the only mine, which has made Raw Turquoise available to the public. This is one of the largest mine in North America.

Cripple Creek mines in Teller County, Colorado produce greenish Turquoise as a by-product. Manassa in south central Colorado produces green color turquoise. Leadville mines used to produce vibrant color turquoise. Villa Grove mine, Colorado has produced the finest turquoise in America. The eye soothing blue color with an excellent golden spider web has made it unique. This is no more operational.

Stormy mountain mine, a closed one, had been producing hard, dark blue turquoise. Turquoise mountain mine, a closed one, produced distinctive, dark blue Turquoise with light blue circles. Kennecott Bingham Canyon Mine, near Salt lake in the Oquirrh Mountains of Utah contributes a significant amount of Turquoise.

San Bernardino County is one of the oldest turquoise mines in California. Deposits are found in Imperial and Inyo Counties also. California mines mostly produces Turquoise in variety of Blue colors, but they are very hard in nature. Though most of the mines are close today, the only mine, working and producing turquoise in California is Apache Canyon mine.

Nevada has started producing Turquoise since 1930s. The presence of Iron turns the color of the Turquoise to Green in case of the most of the Nevada Turquoise. Ajax mine, located in south central Nevada in the Royston area is a relatively new mine produces light blue turquoise. The Blue gem mine near the battle mountain, Nevada produced deep blue and deep green turquoise before close in 1934. Candelaria mine produces blue color Turquoise. Carico Lake Turquoise of Neveda produces spring green Turquoise. Fox mine of Nevada is one of the most ancient mines, which was rediscovered in 1910 has produced variety of turquoise forever. Lone mountain mines near Esmeralda County is another significant name. Nevada generally produces blue color Turquoise due to the due to abundance of Copper. Pilot Mountain mine of northern Nevada produces blue-green colors. Royston the turquoise district in Nevada has got 3 mines namely Bunker Hill, Oscar Wehrend, Royal Blue. Royston produces beautiful color turquoise. The No. 8 mine in Carlin, Nevada produces highly valuable turquoise. Orvil Jack mine in northern Nevada produces yellow-green color Turquoise. Paiute mine, in central Nevada produces Turquoise with different blue shades. Damele mine in the east central Nevada produces yellow-green turquoise with increased hardness. Dry Creek Mine of Northeast Nevada produces pale blue and cream white turquoise.

Chinese mines started at 1700 BC. China has got four or five turquoise producing regions. Maashan turquoise mine in the northwest of Sanghai and Hubei province of China produce prized blue turquoise. The high mountains in North of Bhutan produce chunks of blue green turquoise nuggets. Mines in India produce green turquoise.

Today, The worldwide Turquoise market is controlled mostly by China and Tibet, who are contributing nearly 80% of the total supply. The major portion of the rest 20% comes from sleeping beauty mountain, Globe, Arizona and Kingman mines in the northwestern Arizona, of USA.

Turquoise Mines at a Glance


Mine Name Colour of Turquoise Reasons
Sleeping Beauty, ArizonaLight blueAdequacy of Copper
Bisbee, ArizonaHigh Quality blueCopper Mines
Kingman, ArizonaHigh blueAdequacy of Copper
Morenci, ArizonaLight to dark blueAdequacy of Copper
Birdseye, ArizonaLight to Dark BlueAdequacy of Copper
Blue Gem, NevadaIntense Blue to Deep GreenAdequacy of Copper
Candelaria, NevadaHigh BlueAdequacy of Copper
Carico Lake, NevadaSpring greenAdequacy of Copper
Damele, NevadaYellow-GreenAdequacy of Zinc
Dry Creek, NevadaPale blue, Cream WhiteAdequacy of Aluminium
Fox, NevadaVariety of BlueAdequacy of Copper
Ajax, NevadaLight blue, Dark GreenAdequacy of Copper, iron
Lone Mountain, NevadaClear BlueAdequacy of Copper
Orvil Jack, NevadaYellow-greenAdequacy of Zinc
Paiute, NevadaLight to Deep blueAdequacy of Copper
Pilot Mountain, NevadaDeep Bluish GreenAdequacy of Copper
Roystone, NevadaRoyal BlueAdequacy of Copper
Cripple Creek, ColoradoGreenish, Variery of BlueGold Mines
Manassa, ColoradoBluish Green to Dark GreenAdequacy of Copper
Cerrillos, New MexicoVariety of ColoursVolcanic based
Enchantment, New MexicoDeep GreenAdequacy of Iron Content
Tyrone, New MexicoMedium BlueCopper Mine
PersiaClear blue, the famous one and many other varieties alsoAdequacy of Copper
IndiaGreenAdequacy of iron
ChineseWide Variety from sky blue to spring greenAdequacy of Copper, iron
Stormy MountainDark BlueDiamond Mine