Even if we’re not experts on crystals and minerals, a turquoise gemstone is easy to recognize. This semi-precious stone is famous for its striking blue-green color with the occasional brown vein or inclusion. Today, we commonly see turquoise tumbled into small beads or cut into unique shapes for jewelry and accessories.
Most of what we know about turquoise comes from indigenous communities in North and South America. There, artisans have been working with this stone for hundreds of years. In addition to creating jewelry, they collected these aqua crystals to adorn tools, amulets, textiles, weapons, and to leave as offerings for the gods. Depending on the location, turquoise was relatively abundant. It was considered a ‘soft’ stone, which means that it was a beautiful, renewable resource that was also easy-to-carve into.
But what makes turquoise even more exceptional reaches far beyond its physical appearance.
According to Native American folklore, within each piece of turquoise lives the spirit of the earth and sky.
We see this in Apache legends where it is not a pot of gold that we find at the end of a rainbow, but a mound of turquoise.
And in the Zuni Origin Myth, many spirits carry strings of turquoise beads to symbolize their divinity among the living. Other characters are hit (sometimes accidentally, other times intentionally) with sticks and weapons made from turquoise, leaving them dead, deformed, or in some cases, with a newfound power to jump back and forth between this realm and the spirit world.
With a history steeped in legend and lore, it’s easy to see why so many of us have fallen in love with this stone. But, whether we admire its likeness, its usefulness, or its mystical qualities, one thing can be certain—wherever the heavens and the earth collide, that’s where we’ll find turquoise.