Turquoise is such a widely recognizable gemstone, even those who would say they don’t know anything about jewelry likely know it when they see it.
Birthstone of December, turquoise is beloved and possesses a relevance across many cultures around the world, both ancient and modern.
But even the most turquoise-obsessed customer might not know all there is about the varieties of their favorite gemstone, whether concerning a specific color, presence of a matrix, or from which mine it originates. And it’s understandable why such information isn’t common knowledge—it’s a lot to digest.
Still, as more consumers are paying attention to the origin of their goods, having a specific name associated with their turquoise should prove helpful in making sure they feel good about their purchases.
Take Sleeping Beauty turquoise, for example. Jewelry featuring turquoise from the now-closed Sleeping Beauty mine in Globe, Ariz., was all over the show floor at the JCK show in Las Vegas this year, lending a bit of a buzzword to the name. It’s easy to see why designers love working with it—it’s gorgeous, considered rare (or expected to be rare, eventually) given the closure of its mine of origin, plus it possesses the most romantic, über-marketable name.
There is another name in turquoise that seems particularly popular these days, and that name is Kingman.
The Kingman Mine in Golden Valley, Ariz., is the last full-time commercial production mine in the United States, and one of the country’s oldest to boot. Operated by the father-and son team of Marty and Josh Colbaugh, Kingman is the biggest supplier of turquoise to the Southwestern turquoise jewelry industry, though designers from all over the place have taken a liking to it (a number of designers pictured here are across the pond!).
“Kingman turquoise is one of the oldest turquoise mines in the U.S.,” says Marty Colbaugh. “Originally, it got its claim to fame with its deep blues, with black and iron pyrite matrix patterns, clear blues, which rivaled every other mine in the world. Kingman produces virtually every color of blue to green turquoise that can match virtually every other turquoise mine. This gives the customer the ability to work with a wide range of colors and qualities.”
When asked about the variety’s abundance, he says, “The amount of turquoise that is still available at the mine is always an unknown. There is no way to detect or predict what we are going to find, so we depend on, historically, what we’ve found in the known areas, following the active vein structures. At the rate of current mining, we could potentially find turquoise for the next 10–20 years, but Mother Nature is very unpredictable. With the wide variety of colors and sizes, Kingman produces materials that can fit any market in the world. It has the largest variety of characteristics of any turquoise mine in the world, from traditional colors and styles for manufacturing to unique one-of-a-kind pieces for even the most discriminating designer.”
“I first discovered turquoise from this mine at the Tucson gem show years ago and have been using it exclusively ever since,” says Emily Hirsch, owner and creative director of Talon Jewelry. “I love the color variations and especially the greens in it.”
“I love working with [Kingman] because with all the copper veining it has, it works so well with gold settings,” says Julie Romanenko of Just Jules.
“I have used a variety of turquoise over the years, but none more than Kingman,” says designer Hannah Blount, whose creation is pictured at top. “When I shop the Kingman booth in Tucson, I plant myself on the floor and spend hours combing through curtains of strands, trays of cabochons, and buckets of raw. I call it my happy place. I genuinely believe that turquoise looks good on everyone—since Kingman comes in various colors, it’s easy to find your perfect pairing. Moreover, its burnt sienna matrices, for which it is known, are like Mother Nature’s signature. I also love that it is a family-run mine here in the U.S., and I have been working with this turquoise for nearly 10 years.”
Top: Scrimshaw collection Lover’s Eye earrings in sterling silver and 14k yellow gold with Kingman turquoise, $1,120; Hannah BlountFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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