Natural Gem Grade 67 cts Castle Dome Turquoise Cabochon (#02)

Natural Turquoise Cabochon
1 1/4" x 1" x 3/4"

The Castle Dome turquoise mine can be found in the Sleeping Beauty mountains of southeastern, AZ.  The mine is located just over the hill from the Sleeping Beauty turquoise deposits.  The property was mined-out in the early 1970's and the diggings were covered and reclaimed.  Most of the turquoise produced by the mine was thin vein material and dime size nuggets.  Castle Dome turquoise is, on average, of a better color and quality than its sister mine.  This stone came from a batch of extra large nuggets that were discovered in the early 70's.  They were cut by the DePriest family near Manassa, CO. and, promptly, put away.  We purchased the stone from the family in the late 1980's.  This cabochon is unusual for its size, intensity of color and wonderful black matrix.  It is, definitely, the pick of the litter.


Castle Dome Turquoise

Castle Dome turquoise is derived from the Globe-Miami mining district, Gila County, Arizona, five miles west of Miami. The Castle Dome open-pit copper mine, rests on the south slope of Porphyry Mountain.

Castle Dome Turquoise, CuO·3Al2O3·P2O5·H2O. --Is fairly widespread throughout the chalcocite zone and in the leached capping. A hard variety of gem quality occurs in small veinlets up to one-quarter inch thick and also in concretion-like masses up to one-half inch thick and several inches across. Its color ranges from sky-blue to bluish-green, the blue variety predominating. It is generally associated with clay minerals and sericite, which form selvages on the veins and masses and are commonly included in the turquoise. Seen under the microscope; it is a microcrystalline aggregate having a mean index of refraction of 1.62.

A few specimens of a light-green, iron-bearing copper aluminum phosphate were found occurring in the same manner as the hard blue turquoise. It is a microcrystalline aggregate whose mean index of refraction is 1.67. Charles Milton of the Geological Survey identified the mineral as a ferrian turquoise. He reports as follows:

Employees of the mine have been permitted to dig turquoise on days when they were not on duty, and dealers in Globe and Miami have purchased an amazingly large quantity of the mineral. Unfortunately no record is available as to the amount of turquoise produced, but undoubtedly the Castle Dome mine is one of the most important sources of gem turquoise at the present time.

Turquoise is generally conceded to be a supergene mineral, formed by the action of ground-water solutions, carrying copper and phosphate ions, on kaolin and possibly sericite. Various writers describe all stages in the alteration from copper-stained kaolin to hard blue turquoise; but it is not usually clear from the published descriptions whether the mineral is kaolinite or some other clay. Kaolinite is not a common mineral in the Castle Dome deposit, and its association with turquoise has not been noted; however, turquoise is commonly associated with beidellite, halloysite, and sericite. No evidence has yet been found suggesting that it forms from clay. The hard blue turquoise grades into the soft, white clay-like variety; but the index of refraction of all of it is near 1.62, which is much higher than that of any of the clays present. None of the material could be construed as being transitional between turquoise and the associated clay.

Although turquoise is most abundant in the upper part of the secondary sulfide zone, it is commonly found in deep fractures where chalcopyrite is only slightly replaced by chalcocite or not at all. If turquoise were formed by supergene solutions, the phosphate ion would have to be derived from either wavellite or apatite, which are the only earlier phosphate minerals. Wavellite is apparently dissolved by supergene solutions, but much turquoise occurs in parts of the mine where no wavellite has been recognized. In the Castle-an-Dinas mine in Cornwall, 15 wavellite spheres are commonly covered by minute botryoidal aggregates of bright-green turquoise, but no such association has been seen in the Castle Dome deposit. Most writers look to apatite as the probable source of phosphate ion even though admitting in some cases that the country rock contains very little apatite.

American Mineralogist. Volume 63, pages 574-582, PHOSPHATE MINERALS IN THE CASTLE DOME COPPER DEPOSIT, ARIZONA, N.P. Peterson, Abstract

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.