What is the Zachary Process?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Turquoise, first found in the ancient deposits in Persia, has been mined and used for thousands of years. The luminescent blue stone is prized for its clear color, and is frequently used in jewelry and decorative arts. Although turquoise is a relatively plentiful mineral, recent attempts to create less expensive substitutes or enhanced versions have met with considerable success. One secretive method, the Zachary process, may actually increase the hardness, color and luster of the stones used.

The Zachary Process can increase the color and luster of turquoise, making it less likely to fade over time.
The Zachary Process can increase the color and luster of turquoise, making it less likely to fade over time.

One of the problems of untreated turquoise is that the color and sheen fade over time. Though initially, the natural stone may be a brilliant sky blue or blue-green, colors will fade to duller greens eventually. The Zachary process is one of many attempts to improve the duration of the mineral and seal its color more solidly. While the process may not use initially gemstone-quality turquoise, the result, according to proponents, is a more brilliant and better-wearing stone that will hold its color and luster longer.

Untreated turquoise can fade in color and sheen over time.
Untreated turquoise can fade in color and sheen over time.

R.H. & Company of Glendale, California champions the Zachary process, which was invented by a contracted employee. According to their press releases, an engineer and turquoise dealer named James E. Zachary, who has spent his life working with the mineral, created the process. Details of the process are quite mysterious, as the company clearly tries to maintain proprietary knowledge of the invention. It is known that it involves the addition of certain chemicals to medium-grade or higher stones, and is followed by a heating process to stabilize the stones. Typically, turquoise is treated with wax or resin to seal the color, with varying success. According to the R.H & Company owners, using the Zachary process is an important improvement.

According to some experts, Zachary process turquoise is both harder and more enduring in color than natural stones. Only at the chemical level is any difference detected, and the technique may actually bring out a brighter color in the natural material. The heat-sealed surface is more resistant than the porous natural stone, and is less likely to discolor due to interaction with skin oils and other agents.

If you are interested in obtaining Zachary process treated turquoise, contact R.H. & Company for information. While they maintain a website, their jewelry items are not available for online purchase. Turquoise jewelry can make a beautiful and unusual gift, and is often used to create unique pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind. If you want to surprise someone with a lovely and now more durable piece of jewelry or turquoise decoration, checking into the Zachary process may help you find exactly what you wish.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: