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Nevada Turquoise Cabochons
Long before the first European explorers entered the area that would later become known as Nevada, Native Americans first mined the beautiful mineral known as turquoise. Some of the deposits found in the Fox and Crescent Peak mines were worked extensively. For centuries, the native peoples of Nevada produced necklaces and various other items using turquoise; however, unlike some of the tribes in Arizona that also cherish turquoise, silver work and the art of making Native American silver jewelry never became fully established in Nevada.
Since the 1920's, Nevada has been a major producer of turquoise. Until the early 1980's, the state of Nevada was the largest producer in the United States. Many people believe it may once again be the largest producer of turquoise in this period of small turquoise operations.
There are approximately 100 different mines and prospects located in Nevada that have produced significant quantities of turquoise that are considered to be very good to excellent quality. This number exceeds the total number of turquoise deposits in the total United States combined. Production from these mines varies between a few thousand dollars worth of material at some of the smaller properties to many millions of dollars at the other more productive ones. The current reported value of rough turquoise from the state of Nevada is estimated to exceed $250 million dollars.
Mines in Nevada have produced turquoise with a wide diversity of colors and different matrix patterns, including various shades of blue, blue-green, and green. Nevada turquoise cabochons are unique with their shades of bright apple to mint to neon yellow green. A portion of these unusually colored Nevada turquoise cabochons may contain significant zinc and iron, which is the cause of the beautiful bright green to yellow-green shades. A portion of these green to green yellow shades may actually be Variscite or Faustite, which are secondary phosphate minerals similar in appearance to that of turquoise. A large portion of the Nevada turquoise material is also noted for its attractive brown or black limonite veining, which produces what is called "spiderweb matrix".
A number of the Nevada turquoise deposits were first worked by Native Americans; however, the total Nevada turquoise production since the 1870's has been estimated at more than 600 tons, including nearly 400 tons from the Carico Lake mine. Currently, small scale mining operations continue at a number of turquoise properties in Nevada, including the Godber, Orvil Jack and Carico Lake Mines in Lander County, the Pilot Mountain Mine in Mineral County, and several properties in the Royston and Candelaria areas of Esmerelda County.
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