Our latest show-stopper is Hydrangea, a five stranded necklace meticulously crafted from an array of natural stones ranging in hue from mint green to deep teal. The most valuable of the stones are the two varieties of turquoise, both originating from mines in the American Southwest. Because turquoise is formed where water percolates through aluminous rock in the presence of copper, it is often a secondary mineral mined alongside copper in arid, semi-arid or desert environments.
The United States is currently the world’s largest producer of quality turquoise, and of the fifty states, Arizona leads the way. The two Arizona mines with the highest quality of turquoise are the Sleeping Beauty* mine outside of Globe and the Kingman mine near the state’s northwestern border. The Sleeping Beauty mine actually closed to turquoise mining in August 2012 and is now used solely for copper mining, but there are still significant quantities of the stone stockpiled in the secondary market. Sleeping Beauty turquoise is world famous for its solid light blue color with little to no matrix. We were able to purchase these lovely oval beads from a reliable vendor in Tucson, AZ. They are quite rare because they are completely untreated. Only about 4% of the mine’s production is hard enough not to require any stabilization, whereby they infuse a clear resin into a porous, chalky stone that would otherwise be unsuitable for jewelry. Because they have not been treated, the valuable Sleeping Beauty turquoise stones in Hydrangea may become more green over time as they are exposed to light, skin oils, make-ups, and perfumes, and make-up, lotions, and perfumes should always be applied before putting on the necklace.
The small rondelles in Hydrangea are made from Kingman turquoise. The Kingman mine has been a source of turquoise for the Navajo for over 1400 years and also operates next to a copper mine. The mine saw a boom around 1000 AD, when the Mayans were showcasing the natural beauty of turquoise in their decorative and ceremonial arts, and it is currently the largest producer of American turquoise. The highest grade of Kingman turquoise is a vibrant blue color with characteristic black and silver veining, the blue being so intense that it has become a color standard in the industry. The mine also produces other shades including a green that is quickly gaining popularity. The Kingman turquoise beads in Hydrangea are a soft medium blue color with a slight green hue and have been stabilized.
The inclusion of these two supreme types of turquoise make Hydrangea a truly one-of-a-kind wearable work of art, and the subtle gradation of the various hues will certainly complement any outfit. The five strands are not too heavy and very supple, so the entire necklace moves and twists with ease. Adding to the necklaces’s versatility is the fact that its length can easily be adjusted by the number of times it is twisted before fastening the durable, easy-to-operate sterling silver clasp.
*Named after the mountain where the mine is located which looks like (with a little imagination) a woman lying down with her arms crossed over her chest.