Treasure Hunting For Turquoise
By David Cowley
Turquoise is possibly the most valuable, non-transparent
mineral used in jewelry. It has been mined since at least 6000
BC by Egyptians. Like other opaque such as coral, turquoise is
commonly sold by the size in millimeters rather than by weight.
Turquoise is usually found sandstone layers and can be seen as
splotches or as a network of brown or black veins running
through the sandstone. There are many small-scale mining
operations that are worked by hand. Only one mine in Apache
Canyon California operates at a commercial capacity today.
With a hardness of just under 6, about the hardness of window
glass, this gemstone takes a good polish. It comes in white,
blue, green, brown, yellow and all of the shades in between.
The value of the turquoise you will find is determined by the
richness of color. Robin’s egg is usually the most valuable.
The more of a green hug or lightening of color will decrease the
value. Turquoise should never be soft or chalky in color.
Turquoise is typically found in the arid regions of the world
and some high quality gemstones have been found in the Southwest
United States such as Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico
More that 120 mines have produced significant quantities of gem
quality turquoise in Nevada. Nevada mines are primarily worked
for the gemstone as apposed to other mining areas where
turquoise is usually the result of the by product of other
mining activities. The geological formation of Nevada
turquoise, it is hard and dense and usually does not require any
treatment or enhancements to be used in jewelry.
The Royston mining district located near Tonapah, Nevada
conducts tours of the mining facility Wednesday through Saturday
excluding holidays. For $100 per person you will get a bucket to
fill up by picking through the tailing piles. You will need to
bring gloves, hat, sunscreen, water, and a good pair of shoes.
The mines in Royston have been in operation since 1902 and by
1915 over $5,000,000 worth of turquoise has been removed from
the mines. It was believed to have been the largest single
producing turquoise mine in America at that time.
The Otteson’s Mine also offers mine tours, Wednesday through
Friday excluding holidays. For $50 per person you will get a
bucket to fill up by picking through the tailing piles.
Turquoise is found throughout the Southwest United States.
Always contact the states Bureau of Land Management for any fees
or permit requirements before treasure hunting on public land.
Also get permission from any land owners before hunting on
In Arizona turquoise has been found near Albuquerque, Bisbee,
Cave Creek, Globe, Kingman, Turquoise and Birdeyes mountains.
In California turquoise has been found in San Bernardo,
Imperial, and Inyo counties.
In Colorado, search Conejos, Lake, El Paso and Saguache
In Nevada, search Clark, Elko, Esmeralda County, Eureka,
Lander, Mineral County and Nye counties.
New Mexico, Eddy, Grant, Otero, and Santa Fe counties.
Tools you will need to hunt for turquoise; Pick Axe, rock
hammer, gloves, safety glasses, bucket. Remember you are
searching arid regions of the world so proper clothing is a
must. Wear clothing in layers because weather can change very
rapidly in these areas. Water, hat and a good sunscreen is a
Happy Treasure Hunting.
About the Author: David Cowley has created numerous articles on
Treasure Hunting. He has also created a Web Site dedicated to
Treasure Hunting. Visit http://www.treasure-hunting-team.com
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