What is Spiderweb Turquoise?

Spiderweb Turquoise is a term used to describe turquoise that looks like a spiderweb. It is not associated with any one mine, but many mines, some of the most notable being Kingman, Number 8, Lander Blue, Lone Mountain, Candelaria and others.

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Natural Kingman Spiderweb Turquoise pendant by Navajo silversmith Phillip Sanchez

 

As described below from the book “Turquoise The Gem of the Centuries” by Oscar R. Branson, spiderweb turquoise can be thought of as small pieces of turquoise cemented together with the mother rock (matrix). It is when these pieces are polished or cross cut that the spider web design emerges.

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When other materials appear within turquoise, those materials which often look like veins, are referred to as matrix or part of the “mother rock”. Matrix can range in color from honey gold (rhyolite, a volcanic rock) or brown (iron oxide) to jet black (iron pyrite aka iron sulfide) and many other color variations.

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The matrix can be in large random blotches or it can appear as uniform lines around evenly spaced cubicles, almost pattern-like, which brings to mind a net or a spiderweb, thus the name.

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Natural Kingman Spiderweb Turquoise pendant by Navajo artist Bennie Ration

 

In some parts of the world, turquoise stones with matrix are considered imperfect and clear turquoise stones are most desired but in the US, spiderweb turquoise has much more appeal and value.

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Spiderweb Turquoise bracelet by Navajo artist Peterson Johnson

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Spiderweb Turquoise bracelet by Navajo artist Peterson Johnson

Paula

Turquoise with black and white in it……..is it valuable?

Is turquoise with black and white in it valuable? Any information would be appreciated. John

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Hi John,

The black is matrix which is striking and somewhat common in certain mines such as Kingman, Sleeping Beauty, and other mines.

Most rough blocks of turquoise contain splotches or veins of the mother rock in which it formed.  This can include white kaolinite which is a clay mineral. Both matrix and clay deposits can affect the color and toughness of the turquoise stone and its workability for the Native American jeweler.

In general, I would say dark matrix (black, chocolate brown, rust, gold etc.) is desirable and white inclusions, not so much because the white is associated with a more chalky consistency, therefore less tough. I’d be happy to hear the opinion of others. Paula