Less than 3% of the turquoise available on the market today is totally natural. Due to the decrease of natural turquoise being found in mines across the world, it is very rare to see totally natural and 100% untreated turquoise available to buy in beads or cabochons for jewellery making.
The majority of turquoise available to buy for making jewellery has been stabilised in some way to make it more sturdy and suitable for cutting into beads and cabochons. A lot of turquoise has also had some sort of colour enhancement.
Many people are unaware of this and unfortunately there are many suppliers who state that their turquoise is completely natural when in fact it has been stabilised or has had some treatment to enhance the colour.
At Kernowcraft we like to meet and build long lasting relationships with our suppliers. As a company passed down through three generations, we have been working with many of our suppliers for decades!
When we discovered a supply of 100% natural turquoise we were lucky enough to meet and get to know the miner and his wife who both mine, cut and polish the stones themselves. As a small family business ourselves, it is great to know that through building a relationship with specific suppliers we are helping to support small niche business like ourselves.
See below some behind-the-scenes snaps of some photos of the amazing mining and cutting process sent over by the suppliers of 100% natural untreated turquoise.
This natural untreated turquoise is mined by hand (not using any heavy machinery) at the oldest mine in Colorado, USA. Mining only using hand tools has meant that only a very minimal amount of earth (less than half an acre) has been disturbed despite being mined for over 75 years. This makes this American turquoise an ethical choice for those concerned with environmental issues.
Can you spot the vein of turquoise revealed in the earth?
After a lot of experimenting with different polishing grits, the miner discovered that the best thing to polish the turquoise with was itself, so the pieces of turquoise are tumbled with turquoise grit to get them to a semi-polished state. No chemicals and no other polishing grits are used, making this stone very gentle on the environment.
In the photos, you can also see the turquoise being sorted. Some will be made into cabochons and beads, whilst some will be left as rough, free-form gems.
You can see the miner Clint sorting through the turquoise. Clint is 3/4 Native American, his tribe is in Vermont and is called 'Sokoko Band of the Abenanki, Nation of the Missisquoi'. Turquoise is a strong part of the Native American history and it holds much value in many families.
From the photos you can see a close up of the beautifully vivid, rough and untreated turquoise, isn't it beautiful? You can also see the natural turquoise cabochons on dop sticks part way through the polishing process as well as Clint polishing the cabochons in his workshop in Colorado, USA.
Here are some behind-the-scenes snaps of Kernowcraft's Managing Director on a buying trip where she was able to hand-select a limited range of turquoise geometric and freeform cabochons as well as a regular supply of calibrated cabochons.
Our buying team was also lucky to meet Ray Lovato, author and turquoise bead cutter. Ray cuts the most exquisite and highly sought after turquoise heishi beads and creates wonderful Native American jewellery, turquoise is an important part of his culture and he has built a knowledgeable reputation for the best cut beads.
Here's Hannah with an impressive large vein of natural turquoise in its raw state, complete with small pieces of gold growing within the rock!
The following tips are good advice to take when starting to buy gemstones and looking for a reputable supplier who you can trust.
Explore our turquoise category and check to see if we have any untreated, natural turquoise in stock! You'll also find a wide range of stabilised/treated turquoise cabochons, beads as well as crystals to get your hands on too, with many turquoise varieties to choose from. Check the product description to see whether the stone is treated.