The winner of the American vs Chinese turquoise battle?
...which ever color you like the best. We often hear customers tell us they want American turquoise, no Chinese. Since the days Chinese turquoise entered the American market, over 30 years ago, we have seen these stones go through a cycle. At first traders couldn’t believe the quality and color of these foreign rocks, rivaling some of our finest stones. Then Chinese turquoise flooded the market and it seemed Chinese turquoise was all that was being sold and the quality was becoming poorer and poorer. Today, you don’t see much Chinese turquoise, and the stones you do find are from an old source, not new. No matter how you feel about it, just like American rocks, you have some not so great and great Chinese turquoise.
Stones from every corner of the globe
When you enter a Native American arts gallery that is filled with jewelry you will immediately notice that the showcases are full of colors. You will find lots of pieces made with coral from the Mediterranean Sea, purple sugilite from Africa, stunning blue lapis from Afghanistan, and many other amazing colors from mines all over the world. I have never heard someone ask for only American sugilite, so it is always interesting to find such a loyalty to American turquoise. That could change as we see more copper and gold companies take over traditional turquoise operations, and the fact that American turquoise keeps going up in cost, which is making Chinese (if you can find it) more affordable.
Artist and Collector preference
Artists are usually passionate about their art. Of course you have those that want only the best materials in their work: the best is usually defined by cost, and collectible American turquoise costs significantly more than Chinese. On the other hand, many silversmiths will go to the supply house and purchase sterling silver that comes from mines all over the world before being manufactured into sheets, and buy a stone that catches their eye, whether it is a piece of coral from the Mediterranean Sea or possibly a blue piece of turquoise from China. What we care about here is that the piece of jewelry was made by the hands of a Native American who is carrying on a tradition that goes back over 150 years. Remember, if you like it and you will wear it, that is all that matters.