Turquoise 101

A guide to keeping your turquoise bright and shiny for years to come.

Kait Rosato

8/2/20233 min read

A few months ago, I made myself a little Carico Lake turquoise charm and had a friend that does permanent jewelry zap it onto my ankle so that I wouldn't lose it during the whirlwind of summer. Since making it a permanent fixture on my body, that piece of turquoise has showered with me, gone swimming with me, and been trapped under socks. It's gone on hikes and explored new cities and dipped into the ocean. It has been lived in, non-stop. That's the whole point of permanent jewelry, after all.

Since this little piece of turquoise has seen and been exposed to so much - literally non-stop - what started out as a really dreamy baby blue/pastel green color has darkened to a deep, foresty, cloudy green. It's still very pretty, and I still continue to wear it, but there's no disputing that its appearance has changed drastically from what it once was.

I knew this would happen over time; I've been working with different kinds of turquoise from all over the world for the last 5 years. But I'm guessing that a lot of you prefer to put your jewelry on and keep it on, and maybe some of you don't know that turquoise can change colors over time when exposed to funky things that we use in our daily lives, in our water, and floating around in the atmosphere.

On the Mohs hardness scale, turquoise ranks between 5-6. This means that it's relatively soft and porous, which makes sense considering that the world's turquoise deposits exist in arid, desert-like environments. In order to maintain your turquoise's natural color and shine, it is extremely important to keep it away from your personal hygiene products: lotions, perfumes, hair spray, body mist, soaps, cosmetics, etc. Never wear your jewelry in the shower, ocean, hot tub, swimming pool, or to the gym. Turquoise will act as a sponge and absorb liquids, chemicals, and oils (including body oils and sweat!), and repeated exposure to these things will alter the color or your stones.

Too much exposure to bright light (I'm talking about you, sun) and high heat can also darken your stones and cause surface damage. Turquoise jewelry is best stored in a cool, dark place. To protect it from particles in the air that could alter the color of your stones over time, keep your pieces in a jewelry box, or in an air-tight plastic bag or anti-tarnish pouch.

My advice, in sum: put your jewelry on after you've gotten completely ready for the day: after you've showered, styled your hair, applied your makeup, put your perfume on, gotten dressed, etc. Take it off if you're going to the gym, going swimming, spending lots of time in the sun, or doing anything active that could chip or crack your stone on impact. Keep your turquoise dry at all costs! Remove your jewelry before bed and store it in a safe place. Treat your turquoise kindly and it will keep its color and luster for many years to come.

On the contrary, maybe you're someone who likes to keep a certain piece of turquoise jewelry close to you at all times. Maybe it holds significance or sentimental value, or maybe you just like to wear the same piece every day without the hassle of removing it and putting it back on. If that's the case, disregard the advice above and let your turquoise age naturally with you. Aged turquoise is absolutely still beautiful. Lighter turquoise tends to darken into deep shades of green and blue, but aging may be less noticeable in darker stones. The deep colors of good, vintage and heirloom turquoise pieces tell us that they were lived in and loved for many, many years. They tell us a story about the lifetimes they've lived before they found their way to us.