Stones Used In Double M Beadwork Pieces

One of the best parts of working as a silversmith is selecting the stones to be used in desings! I always tell people that I used to collect rocks as a child, and now I get to do it for a living. Granted, these stones are a lot more expensive, but they are worlds prettier! I wanted to put together this list of stones that I have used in my designs, along with some information about each of the mines because the topic interests me to no end! There are roughly twenty turquoise mines in the United States that produce gem quality material, and additional mines that produce material that are not considered turquoise such as White Buffalo. I hope this curated list will help each of you lovely ladies gain more insight into the world of Turquoise and other stones commonly used in western fashion!


Royston Turquoise

Royston has to be one of my ultimate favorite mines, the mix of dark greens and bright blues is one of the most easily identified color schemes within the world of turquoise. When looking at my work, you will see Royston in two forms: full stones, and Royston Ribbon. The full stones are exactly as the sound, the entire stone is made up of turquoise, but Royston Ribbon is composed of a band of turquoise running thorugh the "host rock."Royston is a stone that is often referred to as "polychrome," meaning that there are two colors, green and blue, running thorugh a single stone. Polychrome stones have a great deal of character and dimension to them, making them some of my favorites to use while creating!

The Royston turquoise mine is located near Tonepah, Nevada. While it is still producing, it has slowed a bit and high grade Royston can be considered one of the harder materials to come by.  


Kingman Turquoise

The Kingman mine is producing a lot of material right now, so quite a bit of what you will see on the market now will be Kingman! I have used quite a bit of it myself, I would estimate that around 70% of the material that I use in my own designs is from this mine. Anytime that I go out to Vegas I stop in at the Kingman mine and handpick stones in person, a pleasure that isn't easily matched!

The Kingman mine is one of the oldest, and the current understanding is that it was discovered by prehistoric Native Americans around a thousand years ago! It is mined in far west Arizona, near the Nevada line. Kingman can have some greens, but is better known for the bright blues. It is another of the mines that can produce polychrome material.


Sonoran Gold Turquoise

Sonoran Gold has been a massively popular stone on the market lately! It is well known for the bright green, almost neon, veins that run through it and is sought after because of this unique mix of turquoise characteristics. This material is mined as small nuggets rather than large veins, so most stones will be on the smaller side, perfect for cluster pieces! Sonoran Gold is mined in Mexico, near the Campitos Mountain. I have only worked with it a few times, but I have some more of it that I will be working with soon!


#8 Turquoise

#8 Turquoise is widely considered to be one of the greatest of the older mines! It is no longer producing as the mine has been closed since 1976, but the last owner of the mine had saved some material which is what you will find on the market now. It was discovered in Nevada while two brothers were on the hunt for copper. The material is well known for its gold to brown spiderweb matrix and bright blue coloring. The mine produced massive deposits of turquoise compared to others, one of the gem grade deposits even weighing 150 pounds! Due to this, you will often see larger stones in this material. It is widely considered to be a collectible, and will continue to build in value througout the years!


Carico Lake Turquoise

Carico is a mine that has no equal in my opinion, I mean talk about unique! The Nevada mine gets its name from the location where it lies, in the bottom of a dried up lake bed. It's another one of the turquoise materials that is considered to be highly collectible, and the lovely piece above has gone into my own private collection. I just couldn't let it go! I was lucky enought to put this cluster peice together in person with the help of the mine owner himself.

As you can see in the photos, Carico is a stone that is composed of a dark brown to black host stone with bright blue and gorgeous green ribbon running through it! Stones that are entirely turquoise are usually a happy medium between light blues and greens. Carico Lake is still actively mined, and has been sold under "Aurora," and "Stone Cabin."


Golden Hills Turquoise

Golden Hills Turquoise has become one of the top mines this year! I will admit, it isn't one of my favorites, but I will find a stone from this mine that I absolutely love like the teardrop shaped stone above! It is also known as Lavender Turquoise, and for good reason, in my opinion some of the stones have an almost purple hue! The mine is located in Kazakhstan, but produces some awesome high grade material that is then shaped and polished here in the United States by expert lapidary artists. I can't tell you exactly what this means, but the research that I have done on this material suggests that it is some of the most "chemically pure," turquoise on the market. Often times, it has a price tag to match the purity. It is only mined during the winter months near the Russian mountians as the area is flooded during the rest of the year. The difficulty that must be endured to mine this material makes it a very unique turquoise!


White Buffalo Magnesite

White Buffalo is very often listed and sold as turquoise, but it is actually a combinaiton of calcite, dolomite, and aragonite! I know, I didn't care for geology in school either, but these I actually find interesting. As you can tell from the photos, White Buffalo can be almost entirely black with white ribbons running through, or the absolute opposite, mostly white with blask whisps. It is the white base with black veining that really reminds one of a lighter version of turquoise.

This stone is also mined near Tonopah, Nevada- just like Royston! The claims are actually owned and worked by the same family. Recently, a new stone reffered to as Black Buffalo has been discovered and mined by the same family, find out more about it below!


Black Buffalo

Black Buffalo is a brand new material on the market, but it has gained popularity quickly. I have only had the chance to use this material a handful of times as it isn't widely available on the market. There isn't a lot known about Black Buffalo yet, but it can be identified by a black base with mint colored ribbons running through the material.


Baja Turquoise

I love Baja turquoise! I don't get to work with it as often as I would like, but I do still have a few pieces squirreled away for later use. This material is mined in Sonora, Mexico just on the underside of Arizona. It is a very stable stone, whereas most natural turquoise is very soft. Baja is a beautiful mixture of blue and green hues, and often features a chunky brown matrix running througout the stones. Some say that this material is reminiscent of the now closed #8 mine, so if that is the look you are going for without the pricetag, Baja is a great substitution!


Fox Turquoise

The Fox Turquoise mine, sometimes refered to as the Cortez mine, was at one time the largest producing mine in Nevada. The mine is no longer open, and has not been since the 80s. I love working with this material, especially when it is a bit on the greener side!


Broken Arrow Variscite

I have very recently become a big fan of Variscite, and Broken Arrow is one of my favorites to work with. It is well known for the greens, from emerald to a light mint color, but I have worked with some that was a gorgeous pale blue. Broken Arrow is mined in Nevada near the Candelaria district and the same claim produces both turquoise and variscite. It is often remarked that some of this material resembles the older Fox Mine material.


Blue Moon Turquoise

This is some of my favorite material for the beaded hoops! I use marbled turquoise beads in nearly every set, and this mine always matches them so beautifuly. Blue Moon comes in light blues and greens and is often characterized by bold black matrix. This mine is also found within the Candelaria Hills in Nevada, not far from the Broken Arrow claim.


Cloud Mountain (Hubei) Turquoise

Cloud Mountain turquoise is by far the most popular material out of Asia. It is mined in the Yungai province, where often times Americans will travel to buy the material and bring back to the States to be shaped and polished. The Asian turquoise is some of the highest grade in the world, if not the highest. It is characterized by dark blues, light greens, and a gorgeous brown spiderweb matrix. Some are quick to write off the stone because it is not mined in the United States, but it is quickly growing in appreciation due to the high quality nature of the stone.


Australian Opal

I don't get to work with opals nearly as much as I would like to, but I always have a few of them hidden away for special pieces! In my experience, opal is a very soft stone that must have great care taken when creating with it. Australian Opal is most commonly blue, but the "flash" within can be any color of the rainbow, I love when I get my hands on a stone that flashes with reds and oranges! Opal can be found all over the world, including the United States, but Austalia accounts for over 95% of the material on the market. It is formed under incredible conditions, silica and water fill gaps within a host rock and become a gel. As the water is lost, the opal is formed. I have heard it estimated that a vein of opal a centimeter thick can take up to 5 million years to form!