Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Kingmans

I recently made a purchase that got me very excited. Partly because I am from the Southwest (I grew up in Arizona) and have an enduring love affair with turquoise, and partly because I am a crazy girl for rarities. And natural Kingman turquoise is pretty rare these days. So rare that it tends to be too high-priced for my budget.

On my last trip to the Tucson Gem Show I ran across some stunning Kingman turquoise cabochons. Priced way out of range. I lingered over them but simply could not justify the purchase. So I went on my way and found other lovelies, but I kept thinking about those cabochons.

Later in the year, I went to another gem show, and I ran into one of the stone sellers from Tucson. I'd purchased from them months before, and we'd chatted about a number of things. I always like to know how their business is going and I like to get to know my sellers because often I buy from the same sellers every year. So we were talking, and I was sorting stones, and then I went around the corner of their table to pay. And - whoa! - I saw these gorgeous cabs. And I asked what they were.*

The answer? Kingman turquoise. The price? Out of my budget. But the price was retail. It's a wholesale show, so the price was half of that. STILL out of my budget. But then one of the sellers came over, and told me that if I wanted to take a couple of them (there were four), he'd make me a good deal. And he sold them to me for almost half of the wholesale I took all four. It just didn't seem right to separate them, y'know?  :)

*The reason I asked what they were, though I had a pretty good idea, is twofold:

First, some stones look a lot like other stones. So it never hurts to know for sure what you're buying. Both to make sure you are not overpaying for a lookalike, and because how would I sell them if I didn't know what they were? I know my customers like to know about stones, and so do I. So I always want to know what I'm actually purchasing.

Second, I don't buy from sellers who don't know what stones they're selling. Sometimes those sellers are inclined to make up an answer. I've had stone sellers tell me something was utterly different than what I know it is. Or I'll hear them tell the wrong answer to another customer. This can be done maliciously (what? lying and manipulation in the gem industry? Yeah, it definitely happens, unfortunately) or merely because they're guessing. Saying "I don't know" won't help them close the sale or make them look very knowledgeable! I'd rather buy from people who love stones as much as I do, and trust me, the people who live and breathe these stones every day typically know what they're talking about.  :)

So, are you dying to see them, or what??

And no, the photo does not do them justice at all. They are just as gorgeous as my beloved chrysocolla, but in a softer, paler blue way.  :)  Like Caribbean water blue. They are divine.
Side note: many of the turquoise mines in Arizona and Nevada produce (or used to produce) turquoise with a very distinctive look. Sleeping Beauty turquoise, for example, is a bright, robin's-egg blue with no matrix (matrix is the term for the lines / spots within many turquoise stones). The Fox mine in Nevada produces a soft colored, paler greenish tinged turquoise. Morenci, Bisbee, Easter Blue...they all have their own "look" and it's fascinating (well, at least *I* am fascinated) by the individual characteristics.

If you want to learn more about the different types, here are a couple of links to keep you busy:

Arizona Turquoise:  Here  and Here

Nevada Turquoise:  Here

Once I have some of them set, I'll post again to show you how they've turned out. I just hope my metal designs can do these beauties justice!

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