What is reconstituted turquoise?

Making reconstituted turquoise beads is a popular choice.

Occupying the fence between the real and the created in the turquoise world is reconstituted turquoise. It contains real turquoise, but it also contains resins and occasionally dyes. Some versions have additions such as pyrite, which help make reconstituted turquoise stones and beads more real. Also, it can be attractive, but buyers must know what they are buying. Selling turquoise that has been reconstituted as whole turquoise is frowned upon, although the practice does occur.

Reconstituted turquoise contains real turquoise, but also includes other minerals and dyes.

The ancient Egyptians made reconstituted turquoise, in a slightly different form, about 4000 years ago. They weren’t actually using turquoise, but they created what’s called faience when they hammered quartz into a paste, which was dyed and heated to create what looked like turquoise. This method was later adapted to make use of imperfect and small patches of true turquoise.

As turquoise is a very soft gemstone, it is easy to powder, add resins, and dye and create stones. Some advocate this practice as a great way to recycle small bits or spoiled bits that would otherwise go to waste. Others consider the practice misleading, especially if people do not disclose that they are selling reconstituted turquoise. It is less valuable than whole stones, but it can be a little stronger and really is at least partially turquoise.

Typically, when reconstituted turquoise is made, it is formed and fixed into blocks or bricks. These are carved, cut or shaped in various ways. Doing math with this recycled stone is a popular choice. However, it can be molded into larger stones for jewelry setting.

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Some jewelers suggest that you can detect reconstitution because the resin will emit an odor. Few describe exactly what this odor is, but true turquoise should not have any kind of smell. Jewelers can easily identify reconstituted turquoises from real turquoises with magnification. If you are not sure what you are buying, you may want to have it evaluated by a third-party jeweler who is not selling the material. That said, most jewelers will quickly let buyers know if a stone has been reconstituted or cut from pure whole turquoise, and also if any treatments such as resins, paints or enamels have been applied.

Some advocate making and buying reconstituted turquoise because, to the naked eye, it has all the appeal of standard turquoise without the price. It should be cheap, and if you love turquoise beads or jewelry, you can buy them for a low price. Since many are attracted to the beautiful colors of this gem, but may not be able to afford it, having one or more stones made from reconstituted turquoise allows you to get the look at no cost.

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