Arizona Turquoise Facts
Arizona Turquoise mines are world famous for their beautiful true blue Turquoise. Turquoise is Arizona's most important gem material. This gem ranks top in value per production and is the most widely known of Arizona's gemstones. Most collectors consider American Turquoise to be the finest in the world and Arizona to be the state that the best blue Turquoise comes from. Arizona mines do produce green and aqua blue / green Turquoise, but are more famous for the blue Turquoise that seems to be prominant in these mines. Often when people first become interested in the "Sky Stone" they learn that Arizona is where Turquoise comes from.
In 1974 the Arizona Legislature designated turquoise as the official state gemstone. Chemically, Turquoise is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum. It is often a bi product of copper or gold miningt. Some Turquoise mines and deposits in Arizona were displaced as copper companies acquired acreage and opened very large copper mines, others were the biproduct of Copper mining companies finding Turquoise while mining gold, silver and copper. Gem Turquoise production is done by careful hand extraction, thus it is generally not part of the business plan of a major copper mine. However, if a deal can be struck with a copper mine one can acquire the rights to the Turquoise production.
Some copper mines exploit a nice Turquoise find with their own staff, while others have on-call gem miners who receive limited-time access to a new find. Although Turquoise produces income for some mines, the reward from producing it can be offset by the cost of disrupting a large mining operation with hundreds of employees. A few copper mines plan operations in ways to allow copper and Turquoise to be mined at the same time.
Some Arizona Turquoise localities are world-famous and produce or have produced Turquoise with a characteristic color and appearance. These mines include: Kingman (famous for its "high blue" color and black matrix), Sleeping Beauty (known for its soft blue color and lack of matrix), Morenci (known for its dark blue color and pyrite-studded matrix), and Bisbee (known for its high blue to deep blue color and chocolate-color matrix). The Kingman Turquoise mine is most prominant of all Arizona Turquoise mines for production and has become the most widely used Turquoise in jewelry world wide. This the last Arizona Turquoise mine in production today.