The turquoise mines of the southwest

turquoise mines of the southwest pendant

Hi, all! Today, I’ll tell you a secret – you can find out where your Turquoise came from just by looking at it! This is because of Turquoise mines – every mine produces a unique stone. This way, you can find out if your turquoise necklace came from Arizona, Nevada, or one of the turquoise mines of the Southwest. I want to tell you all about them and the fantastic stones they produce.

So, let’s get to it!

Turquoise Mines in Arizona

The Bisbee Mine

Bisbee Turquoise was one of the first on the market under its registered name “Bisbee Blue.” This mine, also called the “Lavender Pit,” provided Turquoise that is of a high blue color, hard, gently webbed, and with a soothing, chocolate brown matrix. Aside from the more “traditional” blue, the Turquoise mind from Bisbee was also green! Closed in the 1970s, stones from this mine are very hard to find – they’re mostly sold and bought by collectors.

The Castle Dome Turquoise Mine

Sadly, this mine has been closed since the 1970s. The area has since been reclaimed – the hole’s been filled, and the soil is again a home for many native plants and grasses. Nature always wins!

Turquoise from Castle Dome is of an otherworldly blue color, and with a light brown to the gold matrix. The most unique aspect of this stone is the presence of a honey brown crust before it is cut.

Gleeson or Courtland Turquoise

Discovered in the 1890s, the Gleeson mine boomed with the production of turquoise, silver, gold, and copper. Story has it that even Tiffany and Co. bought up the turquoise mines in Gleeson, which tells you something about how gorgeous and valuable these stone were!

Ithaca Peak

Just above the Kingman mine, in northwestern Arizona, is where you can find the Ithaca Peak mine. Turquoise mined there is of a clear sky blue color, with a pyrite matrix. It’s pretty rare, however, to get one of these stones, since production is more focused on Turquoise Mountain and Kingman Turquoise.

The Kingman Turquoise Mine

The largest Turquoise mine in the whole of North America is right in our backyard – northwestern Arizona! The stones coming from the Kingman mine are of a blue color, a ‘high blue,’ with a black matrix. The stones are found in nuggets, and of an exceptional quality. This is why most of the Turquoise jewelry you see around today can be traced back to this mine, in our very own Arizona.

Morenci Turquoise

Morenci Turquoise mine

The stones from Southeastern Arizona found and produced in the Morenci mine are something truly special. With colors ranging from a high to light blue (rarely in a dark blue), come with a matrix of irregular black pyrite. After polishing, the pyrite looks almost identical to silver! Matrix patterns in Morenci Turquoise can also come in Birdseye or Water Web, and the matrix itself can also be made from quartz.

The Sleeping Beauty Mine

Not too far from Globe, Arizona is a hill that looks like a woman asleep. This is how the mine and the stone got their name – The Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. A solid, light blue colored stone with no matrix or webbing has been a favorite of the Zuni Pueblo silversmiths for decades. With its robin’s egg blue, a strong resemblance to Persian Turquoise, and an out of this world quality, the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is both of the highest value and the most popular choice of Turquoise stone today (and it’s also my favorite of them all!).

Turquoise Mountain

Located in northwestern Arizona near the Kingman mine, Turquoise Mountain produces stones of a light to the high blue color whose matrix can be both webbed or non-webbed. A Birdseye matrix, common among these stones, is one that shows areas of light blue rimmed with a darker blue matrix – so it really does look like an eye of a bird! Another absolutely beautiful detail about the Turquoise from this mine is that the stone can exhibit a whole range of color in just one piece, from a pale blue to a (surprising) lime green.

Turquoise Mines in Colorado

Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek coloradoOriginally a by-product of gold mining, Turquoise from the Cripple Creek mine in Teller County has become a little more common than before. It’s still mined by a group called the Bad Boys of Cripple Creek. The stones found here are mostly greenish in color, though they can also be from a light to dark blue, with a brown matrix. The amazing thing about Turquoise from Cripple Creek is that sometimes, though not too often, you can find natural Gold Ore in it!

Manassa Turquoise

Historically called the Lickskillet Turquoise Mine, the Manassa turquoise is still in production, though it is sometimes referred to as “Kings Manassa” (this is because it had been in the King family up until 2010). These stones can range from a blue-green to green color, with a golden or brown, non-webbed matrix. It’s believed that the first people to mine this location were the Anasazi people!

Villa Grove Turquoise Mine

This mine is sadly forever closed – it’s covered by a small lake created by a diverted creek. Turquoise from Villa Grove is of a deep blue, similar to the Bisbee stones. The main difference between the two is the matrix – Villa Grove has a gold or black matrix color, and can even feature dendrites and a fine, spider-web matrix. It’s amazingly rare, but also jaw-droppingly beautiful!

Turquoise Mines in Nevada

Ajax Turquoise Mine

Located just south of Reno, this small mine is no longer active. Turquoise that had once been produced in Ajax is of a light blue color with darker blue veins, though it can also be predominantly of a dark green color with light blue areas. The most striking detail about the Ajax Turquoise is that the mine often produces bi-color nuggets. So a stone can have not only a light blue, but a very dark green within it! This can look striking, as though you molded two different stones together, or it can be more subtle, like the confluence of two differently colored rivers.

Black Diamond Nevada Turquoise Mine

Some call this stone the classic American Turquoise look. The Black Diamond mine produces a dark blue Turquoise with a black matrix of dendrites and a triangle-shaped black chert. It can also be a dark blue with a smoky black matrix, or one blue color can swirl into two darker blues – stunning!

Carico Lake Turquoise

This mine is located in a dried up lake bed in Lander County, Nevada. Turquoise produced here is mainly light blue with a light brown or sometimes black spiderweb matrix. Lime Turquoise also comes from this lake – a clear, spring green color makes it dazzling. The Carico Lake Turquoise can also be of a dark blue-green color with a black or brown spiderweb matrix.

Cortez A.K.A. Fox Turquoise Mine

Despite being known to local Native Americans for centuries previously, the first ‘official’ claim to this location was filed in 1914. The Fox Turquoise mine was one of the most productive mines in Nevada; today, it’s no longer active. The stones mined here are in a multitude of shades of blue and green, with both often in the same stone.

Turquoise Mines in New Mexico

The Cerrillos Turquoise Mines

Cerrillos Turquoise MinesLong before the Europeans, the Cerrillos was mined by the people of the Pueblos in the area. The stones from these mines used to be “Tiffany Turquoise” because of their color – sadly, that kind of stone is no longer mined, but only found among private individuals. Today, the mined Turquoise color is mostly green, ranging from jade to pale seafoam, with a flecked matrix in gray and black. The matrix can range from little to none, with lines and rivulets of webbing.

Hachita Turquoise Mine

The mining at Hachita goes way back to pre-history and all the way to 1905. That’s why it’s so rare to see today, and you may have seen it only in vintage pieces. It used to be that these stones were of a wide range of colors and matrixes, from a sky blue to a deep green. Today, it ranges from teal to a light seafoam color with a relatively little matrix.

The Tyrone Mine

Sadly, no Turquoise is mined in Tyrone anymore. You can, however, recognize these stones by their deep shades of blue, green, and teal. There is not much matrix, though when there, it can look black in natural light. It’s a beautiful rarity, today mostly found among collectors or jewelers who release their own holdings.

There you have it – all the Turquoise mines of the Southwest! There are so many of them, and each has its very own unique Turquoise.

We carry almost as many types of Turquoise, and I’m sure you’ll find the one that’s just screaming your name! Check out our store, and pick a piece of jewelry to brighten your day!


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