DETAIL: Throughout ancient Persia turquoise was believed to protect against the “evil eye”, related to the universal ancient belief that some evil sorcerers or witches had the ability to transmit evil with just a glance. In ancient Persia a turquoise gemstone was typically worn on a turban, often surrounded with pearls, in order to protect against the “evil eye”. Turquoise was also worn around the neck or around the wrist in the belief that the wearer would be protected from an unnatural death. It was also believed by the ancient Persians that the gemstone would change color to warn the wearer of impending danger. The ancient Sumerians commonly carved turquoise into pendants and beads as far back as 5,000 B.C. Some of the most magnificent ancient jewelry ever unearthed by archaeologists was found in Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur in Sumeria dating from the 3rd millennium B.C.
Celebrating this historical legacy here are two gorgeous gemstone quality turquoise rounds of the most sought-after "robin blue" variety, from ancient Persian mines in modern-day Iran. This particular variety of turquoise is found only in this region of the Middle East, and these gemstones possess exceptionally vibrant blue tones. These particular gemstones were hand shaped and polished by an 18th century Russian artisan into these vibrantly hued rounds for use in indigenous jewelry. Though Russian turquoise was and remains plentiful in Siberia, Persian turquoise was traditionally used in the most costly jewelry – highly valued for its bright blue tones. Turquoise was especially popular in Renaissance era jewelry for those of royal and noble birth – as the gemstone was quite expensive in relative terms.
These gorgeous gemstones are of exceptional quality, unblemished by the inclusions which are normally found interlaced within lower grade turquoise gemstones. It is difficult to find this variety of turquoise today in the United States and Western Europe, especially of this quality, due to the limited production of the traditional sources of these gemstones within present day Iran. The earring settings are of contemporary origin. They are high quality settings manufactured by one of the USA’s leading semi-custom mount producers. They are constructed of sterling silver; they are not cheap, silver electroplated earrings. It is genuine sterling silver, designed to last a lifetime. It's a first-class piece of jewelry throughout. We can reset in 14kt solid gold or 14kt gold fill upon request, and there are also many other setting styles (french hooks, lever backs, kidney wires, ball/stud dangles, simple posts, fancy stud/dangles, etc.) available upon request, in all three metals.
As might be expected, under magnification the gemstones show the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the 18th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. Naturally these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today's cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-tumbled gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones, the cut and finish of gemstones such as these is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago. Such antique hand-crafted gemstones possess much greater character and appeal than today's mass-produced machine-cut gemstones.
Handcrafted though they may be these gemstones possess great luster and character, but that is not to imply that they are absolutely flawless. True, the blemishes they possess are virtually invisible to the naked eye, and to the view of the casual admirer the gemstones are indeed seemingly without blemish. However in the accompanying photo enlargements you might be able to discern a few minute blemishes as well as occasional irregularities in the cut and finish. Of course the same may said about almost any antique gemstones of natural origin. Absolutely flawless gemstones simply are not the rule in nature. Most absolutely flawless gemstones will upon close examination be revealed to be synthetic. Furthermore these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished, antique gemstones of natural origin, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even possible then, let alone in practice, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today.
Keep in mind two centuries ago mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth's surface, were simply inaccessible then. For these reasons antique gemstone must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones mined from deep beneath the earth's surface were simply not accessible two centuries ago, or at least, only rarely so. But for most, the unique nature and character of these antique gemstones more than makes up for the blemishes found within the gemstones, as well as the cutting and finishing irregularities common to handcrafted gemstones, all of which are by and large are only visible under magnification.
HISTORY OF TURQUOISE: Turquoise was mined by the ancient Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula from around 6,000 B.C. onwards in one of the world's first important hard-rock mining operations. Archaeological evidence suggests that by 4,000 B.C., the turquoise mines in the Sinai had already been exhausted, so popular was turquoise in the ancient world. Fortunately the ancient world had a second source of turquoise, Persia. The sky-blue variety of turquoise, commonly referred to as robin's egg, is and historically has been the most desired variety. This variety is mined exclusively in present-day Neyshabur, Iran.
Archaeologists also believe that it is possible that some turquoise came to the Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean from China via the Northern Silk Route. The mineral has been valued for its ornamental and talismanic properties since ancient times. In ancient Tibet and China, turquoise was oftentimes valued higher than gold, and was thought to attract prosperity. To the ancient Egyptians, turquoise was known as “mefkat”, meaning joy or delight. Ancient Egyptians carved turquoise into animal figures worn as symbols of their gods, believing that turquoise itself had divine powers. Turquoise has been found in neckwear and bracelets recovered along with the 7,500 year old Egyptian mummy of “Queen Zer”.
The ancient Egyptians not only used turquoise for jewelry, but also wore it as a talisman to keep evil away. Ancient Egyptian Priests stitched turquoise to their upper vests. In ancient Egypt, everyone from pharaoh to commoner wore turquoise. The ancient Persians themselves believed that health, wealth and happiness would be bestowed upon the wearer of turquoise, as reflected in an ancient Persian saying, “the wearer shall never be poor'”. It was worn around the neck or around the wrist in the belief that the wearer would be protected from an unnatural death.
As talismans, the ancient Persians also adorned daggers, sabers and the bridles of horses with turquoise. It was also believed by the ancient Persians that the gemstone would change color to warn the wearer of impending danger. The horse-mounted tribes of Central Asia (Huns, Scythians, Cimmerians, Avars, Magyars, Mongols) wore turquoise talismans with the belief that they would protect against falls, particularly those from horseback. Turquoise was also commonly carved into pendants and beads by the ancient Sumerians, "founders" of modern civilization, as far back as 5,000 B.C.
Some of the most splendid ancient jewelry ever unearthed by archaeologists was found in Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur in Sumeria dating from the 3rd millennium B.C., and in the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb. Turquoise was one of the most prominent gemstones found within these tombs, including on the famous mask of Tutankhamen. Both the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians produced highly sophisticated gold ornaments inlaid with turquoise. In ancient India, Afghanistan, Arabia and Persia, it was believed that the subtle variations in the color of the stone could be read as indications of the health of the person wearing it, and it was widely believed to change color to expose a woman's infidelity.
Throughout ancient Asia as well as ancient Persia turquoise was believed to protect against the “evil eye”, related to the universal ancient belief that some evil sorcerers or witches had the ability to transmit evil with just a glance. In ancient Persia a turquoise gemstone was typically worn on a turban, often surrounded with pearls, in order to protect against the “evil eye”. Wearing turquoise as a talisman was also believed to protect one from floods. Though the ancient first century Roman Naturalist and Historian Pliny the Elder wrote of turquoise, known as “callais” to the ancient Romans, it is believed that turquoise wasn’t really widely introduced into Europe only in the Middle Ages (at the time of the first Crusades) by Venetian traders.
The trade route which developed saw turquoise being transported to Europe through Turkey, which probably accounts for the name “turquoise”, which is French for "Turkish." It was believed in Medieval Europe that a turquoise gemstone which changed color (became dehydrated) was a warning of impending danger for the wearer. Turquoise was also believed to awaken feelings of romantic love, and to enhance virtues such as trust, kindness, wisdom and understanding. Many Germanic peoples also used turquoise as a betrothal stone, and throughout Europe it was believed that wearing a turquoise amulet would protect travelers from violence, accidents, and injury.
Outside the classical world turquoise was also highly valued in Ancient MesoAmerica. As was the case in ancient Tibet, turquoise was sacred to many American Indian tribes. Most Native American tribes believed that a deep connection existed between the spirits residing in the blue sky and the blue stone found in the earth. Turquoise was also used by Native American shamans and healers in rituals and ceremonies. It was believed to enhance mental and spiritual clarity. There are also accounts of some Native American tribes using turquoise to decorate their teeth.
In particular Apache medicine men and shaman regarded turquoise as absolutely essential. Following a rainbow resulted not in a pot of gold but turquoise. Aiding the accuracy of a hunter's aim was another power highly valued by the Apache. The Apache believed that turquoise combined the spirit of water (as in lakes and rivers) and of the sky to protect the wearer from all natural calamities. The Navaho believed that turquoise, when thrown into a river, would bring rain.
The Zuni (of present-day New Mexico) in particular carved fetishes and talismans in the forms of animals, insects and other living shapes. Interestingly the Zuni believed that blue turquoise was “male”, and came from the sky; and that green turquoise was “female”, and came from the earth. Further south to some tribes of ancient Mexico, mere mortals were not permitted to wear turquoise, which was reserved exclusively for the Gods. The Aztecs of Mexico used turquoise for their fine mosaic art and introduced the stone to the surrounding areas, where it became known as “chalchihuitl”.
The color of turquoise ranges from blue and blue-green to greenish-gray, according to the various amounts of copper usually present. Like opal, turquoise is opaque, reflecting light from small transparent layers within the stone. Turquoise sometimes is "matrixed" (known as a “spider web matrix”) with varying shades of gray, brown, or black veins due to the inclusion of various oxides and impurities (often silver), and is greatly desired by many collectors. However the most valuable turquoise is still mined from Neyshabur, Iran, and is known as “robin’s egg blue”, though as is oftentimes seen with ancient specimens of turquoise, when exposed to sunlight or heat, this variety becomes dehydrated and turns "turquoise" green.
Other less desirable deposits of turquoise are found in the Southwestern United States, the Sinai peninsula, Africa, Australia, Siberia, and Europe. Turquoise is typically found in association with and regarded as a by-product of copper mining. It is formed when a chemical reaction takes place after water slowly enters into the rocks containing copper, aluminum, zinc and other phosphates. Bluer turquoise is due to the presence of copper in the gem, greener turquoise due to higher concentrations of iron or aluminum, and yellowish green color due to traces of zinc.
Being relatively soft, turquoise gemstones are sensitive, easily discolored by chemicals, or even the oils and perspiration of the wearer’s skin. As the color may pale when the stone has been worn for a long time, even high-quality stones today are treated with wax or resin and subsequently hardened. This treatment makes the sensitive gemstone more resistant. Turquoise which has a good natural color and is simply hardened with colorless wax or resin has a much higher value than stones whose color has been “improved” with the use of dye.
Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and providing protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B.C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world turquoise was thought to protect against reptile and insect bites (and was even used as an antidote), poisons, eye diseases, accidents and violence.
Turquoise was also used to treat muscle aches, pains and soreness, arthritis of the hip, infections, stomach disorders, and bleeding. It was oftentimes used to treat respiratory disorders including asthma, sore throat, and to treat dental complaints. It was also believed to be a cure for blindness, and was sometimes used to predict the weather based on the perceived color changes of the gemstone. On the metaphysical plane, turquoise was thought to facilitate attunement between the physical plane and higher planes of existence, and to foster spiritual growth and awareness.
Turquoise was considered to be a protective stone, a healer of the spirit, providing soothing energy and peace of mind, benefiting those people suffering from low spirits or depression. Turquoise was believed to protect against curses, psychic or magical attacks (sorcery), and was believed to guard babies and young children. On the more profane side, Turquoise was also believed to bring spoils to warriors, and many kills to the hunter. New Age healers regard turquoise as the master healing stone, that it attracts healing spirits, and is useful in the treatment of respiratory, skeletal, and immune deficiency ailments; as well as an aid to tissue regeneration.
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