Turquoise: The Other Precious Metal
While it doesn’t have the kind of resale value that gold, silver or diamonds are enjoying today, turquoise has long been a revered precious metal with unique qualities and attributes that continue to make it a valuable stone in jewelry and decoration throughout the world. It is one of the only precious metals that have long been associated with mystical healing powers and abilities.
The term “turquoise” is derived from its long and storied history, a reference to its Turkish origins, meaning “Turkish stone,” that was acquired by Europeans during the Middle Ages. Persia had long been a bountiful source of the stone and the Turks were able to trade it between the Persians and Europeans.
According to Persian myth, a person who has seen the reflection of a new moon in a turquoise stone will soon encounter good luck. In addition, the nearby cultures of Afghanistan, Persia, India and Arabia believed that a turquoise stone that had changed colors was an omen of death.
Due to its unique look and color, Europeans began to associate it with superstitious powers, particularly those associated with horses. Common myth came to be that the stone could protect horses from illness and disease. Any horseback rider that was carrying the stone would also be protected from a fall.
In the Central American cultures of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incans, it was widely believed that anyone who possessed the stone would be protected from demons. As another rich source of turquoise, the Native Americans of North America also associated healing of the body and soul with the stone.
The Navajo tribes of the Southwest employed the powers of the stone in their rain ceremonies, tossing the stone into a river. They believed that turquoise was actually a fallen piece of the sky and that the stone possessed the ability to connect the earth and the sky.
Meanwhile, the Apache tribes believed that turquoise could protect warriors and hunters, combining the powers of the sea and the sky. Various forms of turquoise jewelry were found during archeological digs throughout South America, from Argentina and Bolivia to Chile and Peru.
Even today, many people continue to attribute turquoise with powers of healing, cleansing, protection and prosperity. While it’s unlikely that a simple stone could possess these powers, turquoise continues to be one of the most coveted and revered metals throughout the world.