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What is Stabilized Turquoise?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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Stabilized turquoise is created by adding a clear resin to chalk, or soft, turquoise to help enhance the color and well as increase the hardness of the stone. Chalk, or soft, turquoise is usually a lower grade of turquoise as it is too soft to be used on its own for jewelry and must be stabilized with resin. Since turquoise is a very porous substance, the resin fills in the tiny holes and crevices to form a firm stabilized turquoise stone.

Most turquoise is treated in some way. Natural untreated turquoise is actually quite rare, as only about three percent of the turquoise sold in the world is mined and sold without anything being added to it. The term treated turquoise is used to mean any turquoise that is stabilized with dyed resin rather than clear. Treated turquoise is usually less expensive than either natural or stabilized turquoise, but it may look artificial in color.

Natural turquoise changes color the more it is worn as it reacts with the oils in the skin. Stabilized turquoise, on the other hand, stabilizes, or keeps, the color of the stone the same no matter how much it is worn next to the skin. Stabilized turquoise costs less than natural turquoise, but is still considered beautiful and desirable.

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Stabilized turquoise differs greatly from reconsituted turquoise. Reconstituted turquoise is the cheapest type of turquoise. It is a soft, or chalk, turquoise powder that has a great deal of resin and dye added to the powder. This mixture is then pressed into blocks and cut into many different shapes. Imitation turquoise contains no turquoise at all, not even soft, or chalk, turquoise. Either just dyed resin is used to make imitation turquoise or the dyed resin is added to a white stone such as howlite.

It's important for turquoise buyers to know what they're getting since it's not always easy to tell how much resin something sold as turquoise actually contains. One test is to heat a pin and place it on the turquoise. If the stone is actually mostly resin, the pin will sink way into the piece and leave a mark. The turquoise buyer should always get a signed receipt from the seller as to what type of turquoise he/she is supposed to be selling.

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Discuss this Article

anon87756
Post 8

Really good information. I want to be prepared for my customers' questions when they arise. Thanks!

anon86335
Post 7

Brilliant. It not only explains what the process is and how it changes the constitution of the mineral, but as a practice, stabilising is done on other minerals as well, for instance, gaspeite so now I know.

Also, helps greatly in deciding whether or not to even try to negotiate the minefield of the Asian market for gem stones. I am Australian and even though it is close for me, unfortunately the great difference between cultures of, particularly the Chinese, can lead to horrid confusion and even the impression of personal insult (which I'm sure is never the intention) at times.

What would I do without you lot!

anon75571
Post 6

Most of the turquoise that comes out of China that is called stabilized turquoise is actually magnesite. If the vendor is not able to tell the difference (which is hard to do with much of it) they may mistakenly believe it is stabilized turquoise.

In the trade Chinese stabilized turquoise from a Chinese vendor always means magnesite. When a Chinese vendor calls something natural turquoise that means it is turquoise or chalk that has been stabilized. It is how they present their product.

So if you are buying stabilized turquoise, be sure you are buying from a vendor who knows the difference. I see many places that take their supplier's word for it but they do not understand the difference.

anon75053
Post 5

This is the best info about these stones. very clear and concise info about each. Very good work!

anon68849
Post 4

Thank you for the info!

anon66245
Post 3

Thanks--just the info i wanted!

anon60960
Post 2

well organized, thorough scope of topic, clear and concise, and useful links and resources.

anon40439
Post 1

thanks for the helpful info.

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