Kingman turquoise has been produced as a by-product from the copper mining in the Mineral Park Mining District located northwest of Kingman Arizona. The area lies in high-desert county at an elevation of 3,345 feet and is surrounded by three mountain ranges. The mining district around Kingman, Arizona has always been a large producer of turquoise, at one time the worlds largest. Although first mined by Indians, this area was home to the most extensive prehistoric workings found in Arizona, the modern production of turquoise dates back to the early 1880’s when James Haas rediscovered these ancient Kingman area mines.
Much of the turquoise occurred as seams masses and veins although the Kingman area was also known for its beautiful bright blue nuggets with a fine matrix. The color runs from light blue to a dark blue with a white matrix that was usually dyed black. High-grade Kingman turquoise is a medium to dark blue color and frequently flecked with pyrite and sometimes quartz. In its high-grade form it has always been considered among the top quality turquoise, although until today never rare. It was estimated by L.W. Hardy of Kingman, who held the turquoise lease at Mineral Park Mine, that 23,878 pounds of green chalk, 54,818 pounds of blue chalk, and 4,344 pound of gem grade turquoise were produced in 1973 alone.
Leonard W. Hardy became one of the most important dealers in the turquoise world. He had moved to the Globe-Miami area in 1949 and became a shovel operator for the Castle Dome mine. While at the mine he became interested in the turquoise that was found with the copper ore. He began to market the turquoise to Native American Indian jewelers and then opened a wholesale turquoise operation in the Miami area. Hardy and his wife later moved the operation to Kingman after receiving the winning bid on the removal of turquoise pockets at the Kingman, Castle Dome and Sleeping Beauty mines. Kingman became known as the turquoise capital of the world and L.W. Hardy earned the nickname of the Turquoise King. In the early 1970’s, Hardy Turquoise Company was producing over half of the world’s supply of turquoise. Hardy was active in the turquoise business until the age of 85 and passed away at 92 in August of 2003.
With so many thousands of pounds of good quality turquoise produced in the Kingman area over the last one hundred years it is hard to believe that today very little high-grade Kingman turquoise is available.
Copy © Copyright 2004 Nevada Gem. Used with Permission.