Navajo Natural Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Brooch - Eugene Livingston (#138)

Navajo Jewelry
2" x 2"

This eye-catching broach is of the cluster style.  Navajo silversmith Eugene Livingston hand cuts each and every turquoise stone to exacting detail, creates the mounting of sterling silver, sets the stones then polishes the whole thing to a lustrous shine.  The finished product is one of Eugene's trademark centerpieces.  High grade, natural Sleeping Beauty turquoise from Globe, Az. is this master craftsman's turquoise of choice.


Sleeping Beauty Turquoise

The Sleeping Beauty turquoise mine is located seven miles from Globe, Arizona. The mine is one of the largest producers of turquoise in North America. The mine, and the turquoise extracted from it, derives its name from Sleeping Beauty Mountain, which at one time was part of the Copper Cities operation. The center of the copper mine is located at approximately 33o24"13.23"N. 110o53'34. 60"W, at an elevation of 1224 feet. Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Mining is presently owned and operated by Monty Nichols.

For many centuries before the first Europeans made their way into Arizona, turquoise was being mined on the slopes of Sleeping Beauty Mountain. The Salado and other ancient peoples mined the beautiful sky stone from several surface outcroppings located in the vicinity, including Pinto Valley. It is believed that Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to locate the source of Sleeping Beauty sometime around the 1860s.   By the 1870s, small underground mines pockmarked the hills surrounding present day Globe.

Cities Service Company started the Copper Cities Mine (commonly called the Sleeping Beauty Mine) in 1952 and operated it until the Pinto Valley mine opened in 1972. During the 1960s, L.W. Hardy had the contract to mine turquoise, both at Sleeping Beauty and at Castle Dome, later called the Pinto Valley Mine. Formerly a meat cutter at a market in Miami, Hardy recognized early on that turquoise was more valuable as a gemstone than the associated copper.

By the time the turquoise boom began, Hardy had contracts with mining companies in Miami, Kingman and elsewhere. He also developed a method for stabilizing low-grade, porous turquoise with pressure-impregnated hot acrylic resin, which hardened the stone and improved the color.

Hardy's mining methods were primitive when compared with current operations. Hardy's workers sat in a ditch ripped by a bulldozer and hand picked the stone from waste-rock. Hardy mined turquoise at Sleeping Beauty for 22 years, getting about 45 percent recovery, and leaving the rest in waste dumps.

Monty Nichols received the contract to mine Sleeping Beauty turquoise in 1988, and began using modern mining methods to develop the property. Nichols drills and blasts the overburden, hauling it to the abandoned Copper Cities pit, which now contains the recycled tailings from Miami Copper Company's No. 5 tailing dam. The old dam dominated the eastern skyline of downtown Miami until recently. The year Nichols acquired the contract; he began a two-year project to remove 5,000.000 tons of overburden. Located half way up the side of an open pit mine, the narrow turquoise-bearing zone has about 400 feet of hard waste rock on top of it. In order to move sideways into the ore-body, a whole slice of the mountain had to be removed.

To avoid fracturing the turquoise, Nichols was careful not to blast too near the turquoise-bearing strata. That layer is more crumbly, so the miners can rip it and dump it over screens, separating the material by size. No crushers are used, again to avoid fracturing the gemstone, and the different sized rock is hauled up to a wide mine bench where conveyor belts move the material through three buildings.   There, workers handpick turquoise from the broken rock. The buildings are vented with filtered air to eliminate workers' exposure to dust, and well insulated to keep them comfortable in any weather. It is a far cry from the old methods of mining. Anywhere from 30 to 40 people work at the mine at any one time, depending on how much mining there is to do.

Fifty years ago, mine workers filled lunch buckets with the colorful rock, even though it was reason for immediate termination. Old habits die hard, and some people still think it is okay to sneak in and try to pick turquoise. As a result, security is tight in and around the mine. Motion detectors, night vision cameras and 24/7 roving patrols are used, so the only turquoise leaving the property now is being shipped to markets around the world.

Italy is the largest volume buyer of Sleeping Beauty turquoise, with Germany and Hong Kong following closely behind. These customers buy the best grade for their exclusive jewelry. Jewelry makers in India and Spain also receive Sleeping Beauty turquoise, while in the U.S., Gallup and Albuquerque are the largest consumers.

The Sleeping Beauty turquoise mine produces a uniform light to medium blue turquoise with rare finds of deep, dark blue. Because of its uniformity, it has been a favorite of the Zuni Pueblo. Zuni silversmiths often use it in channel inlay and various types of cluster work that require large numbers of small, perfectly matched stones. The Sleeping Beauty mine has been one of the larger producers of rough turquoise in the United States, although today much less good turquoise is being produced than in the past.

Sleeping Beauty turquoise is noted for its solid, light blue color with no matrix; the host rock is usually granite. Nichols says the mine is producing about 1,600 pounds a month. Of that, only four percent is natural; most of the turquoise from the mine is altered in some way. Most is enhanced, which is more expensive than stabilization, and sold to large distributors in this country and Europe. Currently most of the turquoise that comes from the mine is from the tons of tailings piles that have been accumulating for decades.

The best of the Sleeping Beauty turquoise is comparable to that found in the Middle East. It is thought that large quantities of Sleeping Beauty turquoise is taken overseas and smuggled into, then out of, Iran to be sold as “Persian” turquoise.

Eugene Livingston

Eugene is one of those rare artists who has mastered not just one or two methods, but a myriad of jewelry techniques. As a young man, he trained under other talented silversmiths After many decades of steady work, Eugene is skilled at metal fabrication, casting, making his own silver ingots, and most importantly for his work, the ability to cut stones. In his work below, you will see beautiful cut teardrop and pyramid cut Sleeping Beauty turquoise and coral. His two newest pieces with Carico Lake turquoise demonstrate his mastery of silver stamp work.

When discussing his work, Eugene talks about commitment. This theme comes up again and again with various artists with whom I have spoken. Eugene dedicated himself to his artwork and when you see him work, you truly realize the depth of his experience. He works as if he were breathing, naturally and seemingly effortlessly. We are fortunate to have such a skilled artist close by and hope you enjoy his classic creations.

Precious Stones

Turquoise; Precious stones have symbolic implications. For example, turquoise if a "collective term for all the precious stones, wealth, or mixed offerings. Good fortune is attributed to this stone." Both white shell and turquoise are emphasized in Kinaalda. Pg. 375

Kinaalda', A Study of the Navaho Girl's Puberty Ceremony; 1993, Charlotte Johnson Frisbie.

The clear, deep, robins-egg-blue turquoise they call male, and the stone of a greenish hue they call female. Pg. 230

The Navaho; 1946, Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea Leighton.

Whiteshell [yo lgai] designates the 'white from which beads are made.' It is one of the many examples in Navaho where the same word means a part or a whole, the material or the object manufactured from it. Whiteshell may refer to the thin, flat, white shell beads greatly treasured by the Navaho and often incorrectly called wampum by the whites. Formerly, the beads were made of a seashell, doubtless imported through trade from the west coast, probably from the Gulf of California.

According tla h's creation story, the spirit of whiteshell was placed inside Moon, which was composed of ice; the spirit of turquoise was put into Sun, that of Abalone into Black Wind, that of redstone into Yellow Wind. JS, speaking of the Shooting Chant, said Moon's house was whiteshell.

An indispensable requirement of a chant is the basket; at least one is believed to represent whiteshell. All the precious stones are mythical basket materials. Frequently the basket is of one stone with a contrasting rim - whiteshell rimmed with turquoise or the reverse; abalone rimmed with redstone or the reverse, jet with an abalone rim or the reverse. Bowls, though not as common as baskets, may be deific properties. White Body of the fourth world carried a bowl of whiteshell.

A song intoned at the preparation of the War Ceremony rattlestick refers to Child-of-the-water's queue as whiteshell.

Turquoise [do tliji], 'the-particular-one-which-is-blue,' may be the general collective term for all the precious stones, wealth, or mixed offerings. Good fortune is attributed to the stone. A few of the most unusual references to turquoise are as follows:

Sun gave one of his wonderful children a pair of turquoise earstrings to enable him to win at gambling.

The hair of a remarkable girl, desired by many suitors, was covered with images of coyote and birds of different kinds, all of turquoise; and she possessed a huge disk of turquoise.

Four rattles of buffalo hide are important equipment in the Shooting Chant. One explanation says they symbolize Big Snakes, another that they represent Sun's turquoise rattles.

Sun's son smoked a turquoise pipe, as did Frog.

Perhaps the most unusual allusion is that to First Woman, who, in the first world, was intrigued by a distant fire. When she got to it she found a man, who said, "Your fire is rock crystal; mine is turquoise." This identification was cited as a reason why the two should live together.

The Twins' bows and arrows are sometimes said to be of turquoise.

The reference to turquoise as symbolizing green vegetation in Coyote's first model of the world is interesting.

Changing Woman's home had a turquoise door, and four footprints of turquoise led to a turquoise room. Black Sky Man pulled her up with a cane of turquoise and she became a degree younger than she had been when the Sky People came to her. The cane corresponded with one she gave her wandering people with which they struck the desert and brought forth water.

A small but perfect turquoise bead and an olivella shell tied on a string make the bead token of the Shooting and Hail chants. Sun may be identified with whiteshell or with turquoise.


Abalone [di tcili] is 'the-particular-one-that-is-iridescent, the-one-whose-various-colors-scintillate'; the name probably derives from the stem -tcil, meaning 'tremble.' Abalone is associated with yellow and with Black Wind, whose house, according to JS. was of abalone.

Abalone was offered to Blue Crane to induce him to sing over Holy Man, who had become ill and weak after his many wanderings.


Jet [ba cdjini] is the black substance found in large deposits in the Southwest. A soft cannel coal with a structure that lends itself readily to carving, it takes a beautiful polish. Although jet is the jewel representing black, it is mentioned less frequently than the other jewels.

When the domesticated quadrupeds were brought into existence, a basket of jet edged with abalone and one of abalone rimmed with jet were mentioned. Many birds are now black because they ate of the eggs in the jet basket. The jewel symbol of the northern mountain [dibentsah] is jet.

At the time abalone was offered Blue Heron for his supernatural advice, a piece of jet was offered to a bird called tsih.

When Monster Slayer was knocked out for having drawn the figure of a person on the bull-roarer, Big Fly instructed him to make the offering for restoration by stringing pieces of jet as tassels of grass.


Native redstone [tseltci'] contains ferric coloring matter ranging from dull red to dark pink, often streaked with white. Some of it is probably carnelian. Coral, introduced by the Spanish, has become a substitute, even being called redstone. Examples of the role played by redstone have occurred in the discussion of red; others are the following:

After testing his sons, Sun led them to the edge of the world. There they saw sixteen poles extending from earth to sky - four of whiteshell, four of turquoise, four of abalone, and four of redstone. Sun asked them to choose which they would ascend on; Wind whispered that they should choose the red since they had come seeking war.

All jewels are closely associated with Sun's house, which they compose. Opposite it were five mountains - redstone, glittering, abalone, whiteshell, and turquoise - Sun's mountains, all harmless.

The rattles with which Sun tried to destroy his sons are mentioned in the order: turquoise, whiteshell, abalone, redstone.

Yellow Wind's house was of redstone [JS].

Among the canes furnished Earth People by Changing Woman was one of redstone.

It is doubtful that agate [no lyini] should be included among the precious stones. If we do, to be consistent we should include the other kinds of ceremonial flint, for agate belongs more properly with them than with precious stones. The following will explain the connection between flints and precious stones:

When Sun was convinced that The Twins were really his children, he placed a small agate man inside the body of Monster Slayer to identify him with Sun and make him invincible. A miniature man of turquoise became Child-of-the-water's corresponding symbol.

The stones of the sweathouse were of agate when Sun exposed his sons to the heat test; it was expected to destroy them. Although it exploded, the agate did not destroy The Twins because Talking God had dug a small hole into which they crawled, and had covered it with four white shells. When the test was over, the white shells turned into redstone, abalone, turquoise, and whiteshell.

An agate arrowpoint forms a part of the head bundle of some ceremonies. Fastened to the hair of a patient in the War Ceremony, it represents the flint points that fell from the breast of Big Monster when he was conquered.


Rock Crystal [tseya'tindi ni, nto li, tseso'] is usually not mentioned among the precious stones, but has many ceremonial usages. tseya'tindi ni means 'stone-through-which-light-beams'; nto li means 'the-particular-one-which-is-clear, -translucent.' In many rites it symbolizes fire, especially in the symbolical lighting of the prayersticks, which may contain tobacco. tseso', 'rock-star,' may mean glass as well as crystal.

A crystal was put inside the dark cloud in which Scavenger was enveloped to furnish him light.

At creation a rock crystal was put into the mouth of each person so that everything he said would come true, a probable reason why a crystal is part of many pollen bags, especially the personal ones carried for safety; the pollen represents well-being, the crystal the prayer - that is, the word that makes the prayer come true.

The glass cup holding the chant lotion of the Shooting Chant is a substitute for crystal.

Changing Woman had binoculars of rock crystal.

The line of crystal on Coyote's model of the world represented ice, the only association between crystal and ice I have found.

The basket for the emetic in the first War Ceremony was of crystal.

MIXED JEWELS, the tiny fragments of precious stones accompanying the prayersticks, often indicate that the reed or plant material of which they consist stands for the jewels. Similarly, the feathered wands of the Shooting Chant are substitutes for Sun's jewel arrows, as is the rattlestick of the War Ceremony. Sun's jewel arrows represent the Sun-Wind combination - turquoise for Sun, whiteshell for Moon, abalone for Black Wind, redstone for Yellow Wind; in the Night Chant, the jewels represent the Day Skies.

When the pot drum was prepared for the War Ceremony, the jewels stood for the 'floor of the drum's house,' into which the sounds were pounded.