What Turquoise Is Actually Used For And Its Real Benefits

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

What Turquoise Is Actually Used For And Its Real Benefits

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

From the deserts of the Southwest to bustling markets in Turkey and Egypt, turquoise has been revered as a stone of protection, status, and elegance. Its vibrant blue-green color tells a story of ancient cultures and far-off lands.

You might be wondering, what is turquoise used for? Besides being used in stunning jewelry pieces, this gem has been embedded in masks, used in mosaics, and even set into furniture and weaponry.

But there’s so much more to the story. In this article, we’ll dig deeper into what turquoise does and what its benefits are. From its spiritual significance in certain cultures to its use in modern fashion, its story is as diverse as its hues.

There are so many exciting angles to explore, and by the end of your read, you’ll have fresh eyes set on turquoise and all that it does.

Understanding Turquoise And Its Origins

Atop a rough turquoise is a pair of dangling earrings adorned with polished turquoise and baroque pearls
Turquoise with baroque pearl earrings photo provided by and available for purchase at GemMadeJewellery

Turquoise forms over millions of years when water seeps through rocks and leaves behind certain minerals like copper, aluminum, and phosphorus. These minerals mix together to become the beautiful blue-green stone we call turquoise.

Its color can change based on the minerals— more copper gives it a bluer hue, while iron makes it greener. Should you need guidance in identifying your rock, especially if you think it’s turquoise, you can check out our article on that.

Native Americans have used turquoise in jewelry and art for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, it was used in jewelry and even burial masks. Today, it remains a popular choice for jewelry, decorations, and collectibles.

If you’re wondering where to find turquoise, it’s often found in dry, desert areas. Some of the best ones come from Southwest U.S., Mexico, Iran, and China. If you’ve ever seen one, it’s easy to spot because of its unique color.

The meaning of turquoise

The name turquoise comes from the French word “turquois,” which means “Turkish.” But why name it after Turkey? Well, when turquoise first made its way to Europe, it came through trade routes that passed through Turkey.

People in Europe saw this beautiful blue-green gemstone in Turkish bazaars and markets. It wasn’t really mined in Turkey but from places like Iran. But because it was sold by Turkish traders, the gem got linked with the name “Turkish” or “turquoise.”

So, the name actually tells us a bit about how this gem traveled and its journey to different parts of the world!

What Turquoise Is Good For And Used For

What turquoise is worth is based not only on its (very) good looks but also on its many uses and benefits. Below are some of its most beneficial uses that you may not know of until now:

Jewelry and Beadwork

A Persian turquoise set as a centerstone to a beautiful ring
Persian turquoise ring photo provided by Dani Nurissyamsi

In jewelry, turquoise is often shaped into cabochons, which are then set into rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Sometimes, it’s cut into specific shapes, like teardrops or ovals, to fit a particular design.

Beadwork is another exciting way this gem is used. Crafters turn turquoise into beads of various sizes and shapes. These beads can be strung together to create beautiful necklaces, bracelets, or even earrings.

Some designers like to mix turquoise beads with other types of beads, like silver or other gemstones, to create unique patterns and designs.

Turquoise chips, which are smaller pieces of the gemstone, are also popular in beadwork. These chips give a more rustic look to a piece. They can be strung tightly together or spaced apart with other types of beads in between.

Inlay Work

Very small pieces of turquoise uncut chips
Turquoise uncut chips photo provided by and available for purchase at GEMSDEAL

Inlay work is a cool art technique where pieces of material, like gemstones, are set into a surface to create beautiful patterns or pictures. With its eye-catching blue-green color, turquoise is a popular choice for inlay.

The stone is first cut and shaped into thin slices or small pieces that fit the design. These are then carefully placed into carved-out areas on the surface of another material, like wood, metal, or even other stones.

Once the turquoise is set in place, it’s often smoothed down to be level with the surrounding surface. This creates a seamless look.

You can see turquoise inlay work on many items. Some artists even make intricate pictures using inlay, where this gem might represent the sky or water in a landscape.

Arts and Sculpture

Turquoise carved into Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god of beginnings
Ganesha-carved turquoise photo provided by Golecha Gems&Arts

Turquoise has been a favorite among artists and sculptors for a long time and it’s used in various creative ways.

Artists often use this gem as a decorative element in their pieces. For example, a painter might crush it into a fine powder and mix it with a binding agent to create a paint or pigment. This gives the artwork pops of that unique turquoise color.

In sculpture, this gem can be the main material or just a part of the artwork. Some sculptors carve figures or shapes directly out of big chunks of turquoise. Others might use it to add details or highlights to sculptures made from different materials.

There are also mosaics, where artists use small pieces of turquoise, along with other materials, to create big, detailed pictures or patterns. These mosaics can be found on walls, floors, or even on furniture.

Ceremonial object

Turquoise mosaic on cedro wood as mask
Turquoise mask photo provided by Archaeological Photography

Turquoise has also played a significant role in ceremonies across different cultures. It’s often crafted into items that have deep cultural or religious significance.

In Native American cultures, it has been used to make items like headdresses, dance masks, and ritual tools used during ceremonies, dances, and other cultural events. It’s believed to connect the wearer with the sky and to offer protection.

In ancient Egypt, turquoise was used in burial items. Pharaohs and other important people may have jewelry with turquoise placed in their tombs, symbolizing their high status and importance.

Throughout history, the unique color and rarity of this gem have made it a symbol of power, protection, and prestige. When crafted into ceremonial objects, turquoise adds an extra layer of meaning and significance to already important traditions.

Trade and currency

Pieces of tumbled turquoise stones
Turquoise tumbled stones photo provided by and available for purchase at StonesOfHansel

In the past, people didn’t always buy things with money like we do today. Instead, they used items of value, like gemstones or shells, as a kind of currency.

In regions where this gem was found, people would mine turquoise, shape it, and then trade it for other goods. For example, someone might trade a piece of turquoise for food, clothing, or other valuable items.

In the Southwest US, Native American tribes like the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni had a rich history of using turquoise in trade. They would trade it with tribes from other regions for things they needed or wanted.

Turquoise even reached places far from where it was mined. Traders would carry it along ancient trade routes, exchanging it for other goods or even using it as a gift to build relationships with powerful leaders.

Unproven Turquoise Benefits And Additional Uses

Throughout time, many have attributed healing and metaphysical properties to turquoise. Rooted in ancient traditions and cultural practices, these beliefs have contributed to its allure.

However, when we turn to the realm of modern science and rigorous research, there’s a clear distinction to be made. To date, there’s no scientific evidence that supports the claims that turquoise possesses healing or metaphysical properties.

While many have personal testimonies or anecdotes about the benefits they’ve experienced from wearing or using this gem, these subjective accounts don’t equate to empirical, scientific proof.

An Important Note About The Healing and Metaphysical Properties Of Turquoise

We are about to discuss some of the claimed metaphysical and healing properties of turquoise. It is important to know that there is no scientific evidence or studies that support any of these claims in any way.

All studies and research that have been conducted on the healing and metaphysical properties of turquoise and other crystals have shown that study participants report the same perceived benefits whether they are given real or fake turquoise.

Any alleged success in healing or other benefits is believed to be either falsely attributed to turquoise exposure or a result of the placebo effect. There has not been a single claim of healing or metaphysical powers that has been able to be verified.

Turquoise healing properties

A rough Mountain Hubei turquoise
Rough turquoise photo provided by Mark Zh

Many people believe that turquoise has special healing properties. Some say it can support the immune system, help with nutrient absorption, and even aid in the healing of lung, throat, and chest problems.

Others think that wearing turquoise can provide relief from headaches and protect against pollution and other environmental toxins. Some people even wear it close to their skin to reduce inflammation, detoxify their bodies, and alleviate pain or cramps.

Turquoise is also said to have properties that help improve mood and overall well-being, acting as an anti-depressant to lift spirits and promote inner calmness.

Turquoise metaphysical properties

Many pieces of cut and polished turquoise
Cut and polished turquoise photo provided by Mark and Aimee

“Metaphysical” means things that are beyond the physical, kind of like spiritual or magical powers. So, what are the special powers that some say turquoise has?

First off, many believe that it’s a protective stone. This means it might shield or guard a person from negative energies or harmful forces. Some say if you wear it, you’ll feel more grounded and safe.

Turquoise is also often thought to improve communication skills. It’s said to help people speak clearly and confidently, making it easier for them to share their thoughts and feelings.

Turquoise crystal benefits

A polished Hubei turquoise
Polished turquoise photo provided by Mark Zh

There’s a belief that among the many turquoise crystal benefits is that it can balance emotions. If someone’s feeling too sad or too excited, it might help bring them back to a calm and centered state.

It’s like having a friend that helps you stay steady and at peace! And speaking of friends, some even believe it can help them connect better with others, building stronger friendships and relationships.

While these healing and metaphysical properties are a big part of why many people love and treasure turquoise, it’s always good to remember that science hasn’t proven them.

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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