Gemstones of Arizona

Nature Club speaker Gloria Quigg; photo by Ed Skaff

Nature Club speaker Gloria Quigg; photo by Ed Skaff

Nature Club door prize winner Jean Medema; photo by Ed Skaff

Nature Club door prize winner Jean Medema; photo by Ed Skaff

Pam Boedeker

SaddleBrooke Nature Club discovered a gem right here in SaddleBrooke. Gloria Quigg’s knowledge and experience with gems and minerals extends far beyond her presentation last month on the History of Mining in the Southwest. This month Gloria returned to share her information on gemstones of the Southwest and some history of Indian Jewelry.

Native Americans in the Southwest were experienced in making jewelry and adornments of gemstones. While being held in captivity by the Spanish, Navajo jewelry makers learned to incorporate silver into their craft. They purchased silver from Spain until it was discovered in abundance right here in Arizona!

Turquoise is the most recognized gem of the Southwest. The turquoise from Arizona has two of the three top grades of turquoise in the world! Persian Turquoise is also recognized as being in the top three.

Turquoise is actually a byproduct of copper. When it comes out of the mine there is a white powdery substance covering it. The Sleeping Beauty, Kingman and Bisbee Mines produce(d) colors of turquoise unique to each particular copper composition. Kingman turquoise is a high blue color; Sleeping Beauty’s is a robin egg blue, Bisbee’s is a deep blue with chocolate brown undertones.

The volcanic activity and earth’s pressure in this area combined to produce many gems and minerals. Azurite and Malachite can be found all over Arizona. Bisbee is one location where they can be found. Most jewelry is a combination of the two stones.

Arizona is the world’s leader in the production of Peridot. It is a yellow-green color and can be seen on the surface. The San Carlos Reservation controls Peridot mining.

Ms. Quigg explained the difference between an Agate and Jasper. The Agate had distinct bands of color while Jasper is a more solid color.

From Picacho Peak comes an Indian legend about Apache Tears scientifically called Tektite. The Apaches suffered a defeat at that site.

It is said that when the women found their men dead at that location they cried and those tears are what is now found there in the form of Apache Tears. Tektite is a natural glass. Its surface is blackened due to a meteor or volcanic eruption.

Four Peaks Amethyst comes from a small mine near Phoenix. It is a rich deep purple. The rich color is due to radiation. Deep in the mountains and rock formations all over Arizona are many treasures yet to be discovered. There are diamonds, opals and so much more.

Ms. Quigg is the publicity chair for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

She highly recommends the show each year at the Convention Center for those who want to learn more about gems and minerals or to shop for fine quality jewelry.

The SaddleBrooke Nature Club meets the second Monday of the month at 4:00 p.m. in the Coyote Room at the HOA 1 Clubhouse and occasionally at the Golder Ranch Fire Facility. Please check saddlebrookenatureclub.com for further information.