Browsing through turquoise jewelry can be a thrilling process. Checking out the various shades of blues turquoise, as the cabochons sit in shining sterling silver settings. Turquoise, by definition, has to contain some form of copper; that's what gives it the blue color it's known for. So what heck is white turquoise? Many jewelry stores will claim they have white turquoise jewelry, but this is a little misleading. Let's explore the world of 'white' turquoise where you will learn all about this mysterious gemstone.
Let us start by getting this out there. 'White' turquoise does exist. It just isn't what we think it is. White turquoise has a very light hue of blue to it, but it is turquoise. Unfortunately, it is a very soft and unstable material that would not hold up if it were used in jewelry and stabilizing it with chemicals would actually bring out the colors, making it less white. Many who collect Native American Southwestern jewelry do not want their jewelry to contain stabilized turquoise, so many stores won't have it available. Most jewelry collectors are looking for something else when they refer to 'white' turquoise.
This other gemstone that many jewelry enthusiasts search for is a white stone with an intriguing brown or black matrix running through it. It is called White Buffalo Turquoise although again, it is not technically turquoise. White Buffalo is as hard as turquoise and will polish up to a high shine, but it contains no copper and no blue coloring, therefore, it is not technically turquoise. The gemstone is only found in the Royston Turquoise mine in Tonopah, Nevada. It runs in veins just like turquoise and the black matrix of chert running through it. If you ask for White Buffalo pieces in Southwestern jewelry stores, they will know what you are talking about and probably have a some fantastic pieces to show you. White Buffalo jewelry has become all the rage in recent years and there are some gorgeous pieces on the market.
Because there is such a demand for White Buffalo, this means there will be some fakes out there. Howlite is often used in place of White Buffalo. It is a white gemstone with a greyish matrix running through it. It can look like White Buffalo to the untrained eye and can be very pretty. There is nothing wrong with having a piece of howlite jewelry; it's pretty and appealing. But if you paid for White Buffalo, then you should get White Buffalo. Having a jeweler you trust or a store that you know purchases quality Southwestern jewelry is of the utmost importance!
If you're on the hunt for Native American Southwestern jewelry and find yourself in Southeastern Arizona then come to The Pickle Barrel Trading Post. The owners make it their business to get quality jewelry from amazing jewelry designers. We carry all types of White Buffalo jewelry and are constantly getting in new pieces, so if you don't see what you like when you visit in person, check out our online store where we continuously update out collection. White Buffalo is a truly gorgeous stone that everyone wants to have in his or her jewelry box. Its classic black and white colors are elegant, unique, and enchanting. If you do not have any, you will want to get your hands on some soon.
By Cameron Vines
Photos by Joseph Bedore