What is Birdseye Turquoise?

Birdseye Turquoise is a term that describes turquoise that is somewhat similar to spiderweb turquoise in that it is made of an aggregate of many small nuggets but instead of a dark matrix like spiderweb, Birdseye Turquoise is light blue turquoise with a darker blue turquoise matrix.

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Natural Kingman Birdseye Turquoise Pendant by Navajo silversmith Cecil Atencio

 

The result when the stones are polished or cross cut and polished is that there are many small areas of lighter blue stone encircled by darker blue matrix like a bird’s eye, thus birdseye turquoise. Sometimes it is referred to as “water web” turquoise.

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Natural Kingman Birdseye Turquoise bracelet by Navajo artist, Albert Jake

 

Although the term refers to turquoise from any mine that looks like this, there are only a handful of mines that produce birdseye turquoise – namely Turquoise Mountain, Kingman, and Morenci. Turquoise Mountain (closed in the late 1980s) is located near the Kingman mine in northwestern Arizona.

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Natural Kingman Birdseye Turquoise Bracelet by Navajo artist Bennie Ration

Paula

Do you know what kind of turquoise is on my Carlos White Eagle Watch Cuff?

Hi Paula!

I have a Watch Cuff made by Carlos White Eagle and I would like to know if you could identify the type of turquoise stones that are on it. When I purchased the cuff the top feather that holds the watch in was broken. I was able to find Carlos and have him fix it for me. He remembered the piece from the late 60’s and that he had custom made it for a doctor. The inscription reads “For Dr. H.M. Wilke”. The thing is all the time I spent with him, I forgot to ask him where the stones came from. It has a bear tooth and a claw and he verified that.
Thanks for your help!!
Jess

Jess !

What a treasure. I’d be interested to hear the story of how you got the watch, how you were able to hook up with Apache artist Carlos White Eagle, and all that good stuff !!

I also like your man-at-work photo with purchase order and keyboard back ground – do you wear this watch to work ??!!

What a fabulous watch !

What mine could these turquoise stones have come from? Well, as you know, computer monitor settings vary and what might look bright blue here might look deep bluish-green there. Dark brown matrix can look black from one screen to another.

But knowing the type of stones that have appeared in Carlos White Eagle’s pieces from that era and taking an educated guess, I am thinking it could be one of the mines below. I’m going to paste some photos of items we have or have had in our store with the names of the mines the turquoise came from below each photo. Why don’t you tell me which picture looks the most like your stones and then I’ll give you my best guess. Feel free to post your reply right here as a reply to this blog and once you and I both dive in, we can see what others might think.

It is easier in person. Photos are difficult. And stones from one portion of a mine can look quite different from another section, but anyway…….here we go.

Bisbee

Blue Diamond

Blue Gem

Morenci

Number 8 or # 8

Turquoise Mountain

Mystery Mine - You fill in the blank _____________

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Turquoise Mines in the US

 

Some of the turquoise mines in the US

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Bisbee (Cochise County, Arizona) Deep blue color with smoky black matrix.


Blue Diamond (central Nevada) operated from the late 1950’s to 1980. This stone typically has dark smoky swirls with brilliant blue windows.


Candelaria (Northern Nevada) A small depleted (closed) mine. Stones have luminous quality.


Carico Lake (Lander County, Nevada) Blue and green.

Cripple Creek (Teller County, Colorado) Green and blue with brown matrix; by-product of gold mining.

Sterling Silver Navajo RingsDry Creek (Battle Mountain, Nevada) Pale blue or white because no heavy metals are in the ground where it forms. Also called Sacred Buffalo Turquoise because the White Buffalo is a very sacred and rare buffalo. Read more…

EASTER BLUE An old Nevada mine owned and operated by Danny and Dean Otteson. It is located in Nye County near the Royston turquoise area. In was opened in 1907 and produces turquoise from surface and underground mines. The turquoise is hard, of fine quality and a rich blue color with beautiful matrix.

Fox Turquoise mine (Lander County, Nevada) discovered in the early 1900’s, was once Nevada’s largest producer of green or blue-green turquoise with a distinctive matrix. The different sites of Fox deposits were developed using the names of Fox, White Horse, Green Tree, and Smith to differentiate among the colors of turquoise produced. The Fox mine is now closed.

 

Kingman (Mohave County, Arizona) Blue stones with white matrix sometimes dyed black.

King’s Manassa (Conejos County, Colorado) is best known for its brilliant greens and golden and brown non-webbed matrices, but blue and blue-green stone is found there as well. This site, east of the town of Manassa, was originally mined by Ancestral Pueblo peoples. It was rediscovered in 1890 by gold prospector I.P. King, and his descendants still work the claim.

Lander Blue (Lander County, Nevada) The rarest of all Southwest US turquoise; high grade and most valuable.

 

Lone Mountain (Esmeralda County, Nevada) Deep blue stones with fine spider webs.

Morenci (Greenlee County, Arizona) Blue color with “Fool’s Gold” (iron pyrite) matrix.

Sterling Silver Navajo RingsNumber Eight (Carlin, Nevada) Exceptional spiderweb turquoise with the matrix ranging from golden brown to almost black, but a deep golden webbing is most characteristic.

Royston turquoise mine district (Nye County, Nevada) consists of several mines including Royston, Royal Blue, Oscar Wehrend and Bunker Hill. Discovered in 1902 it is the oldest patented mine in Nevada. Royston turquoise is known for its beautiful deep green to rich light blue colors in the same formation and the stones are often two-tone, displaying both dark and light green and sometimes blue. It has a heavy matrix ranging from dark brown to gold in color. Royston turquoise is considered very collectible.

Sleeping Beauty (Globe in Gila County, Arizona) Uniform blue turquoise that is easily matched and cut. Often clear but sometimes with white matrix that is dyed black.

Sterling Silver Navajo Rings

Pilot Mountain (Esmeralda County, Nevada) Blue and green stones with dark brown, reddish or black matrices.

Turquoise Mountain (Mohave County, Arizona) Blue and green.

Stormy Mountain (Elko County, Nevada) Dark blue with black matrix looking like blotches.

white buffalo turquoiseWhite Buffalo Turquoise or White Buffalo Stone is not turquoise at all, but a different stone that is white stone with black and brown inclusions. By definition turquoise contains copper (it is a copper aluminium phosphate), which is what gives the characteristic blue color. Presence of iron will shift the color toward green. “White turquoise” without blue color is technically not turquoise and is more accurately called White Buffalo Stone. As far as we know, White Buffalo Stone comes from only one mine in Nevada, which is owned by the Otteson family. Howlite is commonly passed off as White Buffalo Stone.

Turquoise is the birthstone of December and is thought to bring good fortune, strength and helps overcome illness.

The Navajo consider turquoise to bring good fortune and appease the Wind Spirit.

The Zuñi believe blue turquoise is male and of the sky and green turquoise is female and of the earth.

Hopi legend tells of the lizard who travels between the above and the below, excretes turquoise. This stone can hold back floods.