The subject of Fake Turquoise has not had to be addressed until recently and for this reason here is my view, John Hartman. I have been a Trader and friend to many Native American Indians of the Southwest for over forty years who's lively hood was totally based on Turquoise and Silver Jewelry. Turquoise has been a major part of my life for this period of time as well as I have been highly involved in the Turquoise and Silver Jewelry industry.
It has come to my attention and I have seen with my own eyes that it is a fact, the Chinese are faking Turquoise and Fake Turquoise is a reality! In fact, the new fake Turquoise that is being sold at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show for 2011 is made from pure cement and dye. The last phase was mining chalk in China, dying it and then injecting it with resin, as in this photo, but that was to much work for the Chinese. Now they are just mixing it up like the cement in sidewalks.
I had a discussion recently with a gentleman who had witnessed this operation in China. They are taking a form of cement, mixing multiple color's to create the exact shades that are in demand and use an alcohol based thinner to make a slurry. They then pour the slurry into pre made molds in any shape and size of stone they want to create, these are steel molds that have hundreds of cavities to accommodate mass production. Next, they open the mould and dump the fake Turquoise castings out onto a conveyer belt. The fake Turquoise castings move down to the next department where factory workers grind and polish the mould marks off of the fake Turquoise castings and then they go into a tumbling machine where they put a polish on the fake Turquoise. Of course, they have many more tricks to ad different effects that is desired by the market such as black matrix, brown matrix, spiderweb matrix, green to blue colorations and so on. It is pitiful that these manufacturers only care about money and they do not consider anything else.Be aware that while some Chinese Turquoise is real and beautiful, some Chinese Turquoise is fake and mass produced for inexpensive costume Jewelry.
Please remember NATURAL CHINESE TURQUOISE IS RARE AND VERY VALUABLE. Top grade, natural, spiderweb Cloud Mountain Turquoise has sold for as much as 10,000 USD per lbs in 2014. So, do not confuse the fake merchandise with the real Turquoise. Chinese Turquoise is wonderful material and highly coveted by Turquoise collectors.
If you see cheap Turquoise Jewelry, there is a good reason for it! I see Turquoise Jewelry dealers online with prices that are stupidly impossible. I see 50% off sales and even 2/3's off - will, take it from me, you could get the shaft very easy in today's marketplace by purchasing cheap Turquoise Jewelry. Be very careful if you are looking for quality Turquoise Jewelry and beware of the wicked Indian Trader who will mislead you just to make a buck by selling you cheap Turquoise Jewelry!
Here is another good article to read on fake Turquoise from ebay.
Stabilized Turquoise - Over thirty years ago I realized that several companies in Arizona were treating Turquoise with plastic resins to stabilize inferior Turquoise, soft or chalk Turquoise. As an old school Turquoise connoisseur, that turned my stomach and I was upset about it until I spoke with Mary Colbaugh of Colbaugh Processing in Kingman, Arizona. Marty explained to me that many people do not mind their Turquoise stones to be stabilized as they want it to be durable and to remain the same color for the live of the piece of Jewelry they purchased.
I thought about that and ultimately came to the conclusion that Stabilized Turquoise is real Turquoise and it is durable and it will remain the same color forever. I also realized stabilized Turquoise does have a place in the market that natural Turquoise just cannot fill. It is very good for making Turquoise Beads, Turquoise Inlay and Turquoise Sculptures as it does not fracture as easy as natural Turquoise. Stabilized Turquoise is also good for less expensive Turquoise Jewelry which is used in the fashion industry that is so price competitive.
My conclusion regarding Stabilized or enhanced authentic Turquoise is that it is not natural as it came out of the ground, but it is still real Turquoise. If it is not sold for something other than it is, that is fine. If a consumer is mislead and lied to about the quality of the Turquoise in the Jewelry they are purchasing - this is dishonest.
If you are a consumer in today's marketplace, you must be aware that American pride has become a rarity and the majority of salespeople will tell you anything to make a sale.
Cheap Turquoise Jewelry
There is a big difference between quality Turquoise Jewelry and cheap Turquoise Jewelry and there is a market for both. There has been cheap costume Turquoise Jewelry for over 50 years and many people have been fooled by it. This type of cheap Turquoise Jewelry was intended to be costume Jewelry and sold in department stores as that. The trouble comes when it gets into the marketplace and dishonest people cheat others to make a buck.
Cheap Turquoise Jewelry is being produced more and more every day as the global market for Turquoise Jewelry is big. When there is a big market for anything the discount stores want to make as much money as they can, so cheap products are made for this purpose. Cheap consumer items become available at trade shows for retailers and soon filter down to many other outlets. Cheap Turquoise Jewelry items with fake Turquoise, fake Silver and even fake Gold are being produced by the boatload and you can buy as much of it as you want. I have seen pieces that sell for less than $5.00 at a trade show and then see the same pieces out in the marketplace for $87.99 discounted from $149.50. If you are looking for a piece of costume Turquoise Jewelry and you pay $18.-24.00 for an attractive Turquoise Ring, no big deal. Costume Jewelry is great for a party or temporary Jewelry, when it's spent - just throw it in the waste basket.
Beware of Department Stores and even Indian Jewelry Stores and Indian Jewelry website's selling cheap Turquoise Jewelry! Silver has skyrocketed over to $30.00 per ounce in December of 2010 from about $13.00 per ounce in June of 2010 and authentic Turquoise has went up over100% in the last year. When you see Turquoise Jewelry dealers discounting their authentic Turquoise Jewelry - LOOK OUT! Something is drastically wrong!
Bad Indian Traders
Now I'm going to tell you a story about why fake Turquoise will get into Native American handcrafted Silver Jewelry.
Gallup and Albuquerque New Mexico is the hub marketplace for Southwestern Native American Indians to sell their Jewelry. Many Native American Indians do not travel far from their home for one reason or another. The Native American Artisans rely on having a place to take their Silver Jewelry, once it is finished. For over one hundred and fifty years, this has been the standard way of making money for the Navajo and Zuni Jewelry Artisans.
I was in Gallup several months ago in a well known Indian Trading Company, I was sitting in the office with the owner when a Native American Indian came in with several beautiful Turquoise Silver Bracelets. The Indian Trader, (owner), was very nice to the Native American and then he offered him $22.50 per bracelet. I was floored! I guarantee you that there was at least $18.00 worth of materials in those bracelets and I also know, as I am a Silversmith, that it took about three hours of labour to make each piece. As I see it, the Trader was offering the Navajo about $1.00 - $1.50 per hour for his work, and beautiful work at that. I was so happy to see the Navajo Artisan tell the Trader "that is not enough" and leave the Trading Post. I was thinking what a terrible situation these Artisans must be in here.
Now, you can bet your bottom dollar, that Navajo Jewelry Artisan will think twice before he pays a high price for authentic Turquoise again. He will go down to the Jewelers Supply and he will buy FAKE TURQUOISE for 1/10th the price and he will make money on the next batch of Jewelry he makes. It is a very unfortunate situation, competing with China as they have a different economic situation and their morals regarding the quality of products are much different then ours!
Many of the Native American Artisans have no choice other then to lower the standards of their Jewelry due to global competition. Southwestern styled Turquoise Jewelry is now being made elsewhere in the world and this is not Native American Indian Jewelry - Many Indian Traders are ruthless and they simply do not care if their Jewelry is handcrafted by a Native American Indian or a Native from the Philippines, China, Viet Nam or the Middle East. We all need to be careful these days to make certain we are getting what we are paying for as global trade has changed the way of life, as we once knew it, in America.
Most handcrafted Native American Indian Jewelry is very nice and good quality Jewelry. There are many Native American Indian Jewelers that are incredible artists that produce fabulous, one of a kind, Silver Jewelry that is spectacular. As a consumer, if you are interested in collecting or investing in Native American Turquoise and Silver Jewelry, you must be prepared to study before you start buying or be willing to pay your dues to learn by your mistakes.
There are many things to be aware of when investing in Native American Turquoise Jewelry market today.
1.) Make certain the person or business you are dealing with is reputable and they have been in business long enough to know their business.
2.) Make certain the Native American Jewelry you are purchasing was "Made in the USA" and is made with Sterling Silver and authentic Turquoise.
3.) Beware of "Indian Traders" that offer deals that are to good to be true. Know that Sterling Silver hit $30.00 per ounce in December 2010 and authentic Turquoise values have went through the roof in the last two years. If Indian Traders are offering 50% off or super bargains - it is guaranteed they are trying to get rid of their inferior products or trash - LOOK OUT!
We hope you have enjoyed our presentation on fake Turquoise, cheap Turquoise and have gained some useful knowledge from it. We invite you to learn more about Turquoise and Turquoise Jewelry by following the links in our Learning Center to other informational pages that we have written on different topics related to Turquoise Jewelry. In addition, we would like to invite you to join our E-Mail Newsletter - about once every other month we send out a Newsletter to inform our members of what's happening with Durango Silver Company, new products, specials for our members and more. We also have a monthly drawing from our member base to give away free Turquoise Jewelry from our company. Please take a moment to become one of our friends by signing in below.