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Egyptian Turquoise

| 3 min read

Turquoise is the only gem to have lent its name to a color. Turquoise gets its name from its trading history, being imported to Europe from Turkey, the word means ‘Turkish stone’. Although this name only dates back to the seventeenth century, the gem has been mined since at least 6000BC, previously having been called ‘Callais’ by the Ancient Romans and ‘Chalchihuitl’ by the Aztecs. It is most famous, perhaps, as one of the gems most treasured by the Ancient Egyptians.

It is astonishing that the mines the Egyptians sourced their Turquoise from are still in use today. These famous mines in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt produced gems which adorned the necks of ancient Pharaohs.

Egyptian Turquoise mining area

With bright greenish blues and a webbing of rich red and copper hues, each piece of Egyptian Turquoise is completely unique. The richness of the color of this matrix is prized by collectors and can help to distinguish Turquoise from Egypt.

This unique red-to-gold background color lends this gem well to being set in gold, as well as making it look regal and antiquated. This may well be why the gem was so prized by ancient civilizations. It was a favorite of Tutankhamun himself and features (along with Lapis Lazuli, another Egyptian favorite) on his extraordinary Death Mask.

Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli featuring on Tutenkhamun's Death Mask

Turquoise was said to be a holy stone that would bring good luck. It was so important to the Egyptians that the gem even had its own goddess, Hathor. Hathor was a cow goddess and the mother, wife and daughter of the sun god, Ra. She was known as ‘Lady of Turquoise’, ‘Mistress of Turquoise’ and ‘Lady of Turquoise Country’ as she was the protector of the desert region where this beautiful stone is mined.

For years, we had been told that this Egyptian mine had been depleted. However, our recent partnership with legendary Turquoise authority Russell Twiford has meant that we have finally been able to source some of this unique stone. He’s been involved with the Egyptian Turquoise mines for over thirty years and has collected together a selection of the finest specimens as they have been unearthed. He told us that there are still some pieces found every now and again, but they don’t tend to make it to the open market. However, we’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to get hold of a parcel from Russell’s personal collection and we’re so proud to be able to bring this to you.