Straddling the fence between the real and created in the world of turquoise is reconstituted turquoise. It does contain real turquoise, but also contains resins and occasionally dyes. Some versions have additions like pyrite, which help to make the turquoise stones and beads that are reconstituted look more real. Furthermore, it can be attractive, but buyers should know what they’re getting. Selling turquoise that's been reconstituted as whole turquoise is frowned upon, though the practice does occur.
The Ancient Egyptians made reconstituted turquoise, in slightly different form, about 4000 years ago. Actually, they weren’t using turquoise, but they created what is called faience when they pounded quartz into a paste, which was then dyed and heated to create what appeared to be turquoise. This method was later adapted to make use of imperfect and small true turquoise scraps.
Since turquoise is a fairly soft gemstone, it is easy to grind it to powder, add resins and dye, and create stones. Some defend this practice as a great way to recycle small pieces or marred pieces that would otherwise be wasted. Others view the practice as deceptive, especially if people don’t disclose that they’re selling reconstituted turquoise. It’s less valuable than whole stones, but it can be a little bit stronger, and it really is at least part turquoise.
Typically when reconstituted turquoise is made, it is formed and set in blocks or bricks. These are then carved, cut or shaped in a variety of ways. Making beads from this recycled stone is a popular choice. Yet it can be shaped into larger stones for jewelry settings.
Some jewelers suggest you can spot reconstitution because the resin will emit an odor. Few describe exactly what that odor is, but true turquoise should not have any kind of smell. Jewelers can easily identify reconstituted from real turquoise under magnification, though. If you’re unsure what you’re buying, you might want to have it evaluated by a third party jeweler who is not selling you the material. That said, most jewelers will be quick to let buyers know if a stone is reconstituted or cut from pure whole turquoise, and also whether any treatments like resins, dyes, or glazes have been applied.
Some defend the making and purchase of reconstituted turquoise because to the naked eye, it has all the appeal of standard turquoise, without the price. It should be inexpensive, and if you love having turquoise beads or jewelry, you should be able to get it at low prices. Since many are attracted to the beautiful colors of this gemstone, but may not be able to afford it, having one or more stones made of reconstituted turquoise allows you to get the look without the expense.