What Makes Turquoise Change Color?

Paula,

My mom bought a ring and bracelet many years ago on a family trip and she wore them all the time, including when she did the dishes.

I’ve inherited those items but the stones are a very dark green. I remember them being bright and more blue. What happened to them and is there any way I can scrub them to restore them. Thank you, Sandy.

Vintage Fred Harvey Era Green Turquoise Ring

Hi Sandy,

You don’t say what kind of jewelry this is, but I’m guessing it is turquoise you are talking about. Here is one post I’ve written on the topic of Green Turquoise

and here are some more thoughts on the subject.

Turquoise Changing Color

Turquoise is porous. Grease and oil can change the color of natural turquoise by seeping into its pores. I’m not talking about your car’s grease and oil here, but simply human body oils and products we all use around the home every day.

Skin oil is produced as a normal, healthy part of keeping skin pliable. Some people routinely produce more skin oil than others and all people tend to produce more skin oil in warm or humid climates. Exercise and stress can increase the production of natural body oils.

Products that can cause turquoise to change color include moisturizers, suntan oil, body butter, conditioners. And many cosmetic sprays such as hair spray, spritz, cologne and other products can coat or clog a stones pores and change its color.

Household products such as dishwater, soap, detergent, furniture sprays and anything with an oil or grease ingredient have the potential to alter the appearance of turquoise.

Untreated, natural turquoise of very high quality (sometimes called Precious Turquoise) resists color change.

Natural Blue Ridge Turquoise Bracelet by Arnold Blackgoat

But if turquoise is of moderate or lesser quality, it can be more likely to change color when it comes in contact with water and oils.

However, 10 stones from the same mine might all change colors at a different rate. That’s why, for example, on old pawn pieces, such as a cluster pin or squash blossom necklace, as the stones age, some stones might turn a slightly different color than others. Here is a good example of that.

Vintage Squash Blossom Necklace - All stones are original. Note the variation of color between the stones as they have aged.

 

Stabilized turquoise (treated with resin) resists color change. Turquoise used to make heishi necklaces is stabilized for two reasons – to prevent breakage and to protect the color.

New Stabilized Turquoise Heishi Choker by Santo Domingo Ella Mae Garcia

An unstabilized turquoise choker would turn dark green in a matter of months from skin oils of the neck area.

Some turquoise is enhanced, that is, it is treated to bring out the intensity of its color. When oils come in contact with turquoise, they essentially do the same thing, they deepen or enhance the color….at least in the short term…..but eventually, not only does the turquoise become darker, it becomes greener also. I’ve seen some vintage stones that almost look a blackish green.

If a bracelet has a very large stone that has turned green, it is possible to have it buffed to restore the original color somewhat. But this is something to be done by an experienced jeweler familiar with turquoise. He or she will know the right products to use and procedures to follow.

In closing, I have to admit I LOVE the old greenish turquoise as is – it speaks stories ! Enjoy !

Vintage Turkey Track Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pawn Bracelet

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