Navajo Natural Blue Gem (38cts) Turquoise Pendant by Allison Lee (#194)

Navajo Natural Blue Gem (38cts) Turquoise Pendant by Allison Lee
Navajo Natural Blue Gem (38cts) Turquoise Pendant by Allison Lee
Navajo Natural Blue Gem (38cts) Turquoise Pendant by Allison Lee
Navajo Natural Blue Gem (38cts) Turquoise Pendant by Allison Lee

Navajo Natural Blue Gem (38cts) Turquoise Pendant by Allison Lee (#194)


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Size: 2" x 2 1/2"
Stone: 7/8" x 1 1/2"

BARRY’S PICK: Barry chose a magnificent piece of natural Blue Gem turquoise and shipped it to Allison Snowhawk Lee, one of America’s premier designers of jewelry. Barry calls this a “character stone” for its clarity, hardness, and sheer beauty. It also reflects the creative relationship between Twin Rocks and the artists we are honored to work with.


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Blue Gem Turquoise

Blue Gem turquoise occurs in argillized quartz monzonite cut by two limonite-stained sheer zones, one trending N 35 o W and dipping 75 o NE, the other trending N, 25 o E and dipping 55 o NW. An extensive breccia zone about 10 feet wide is developed between the two bounding sheers. Exceptionally good quality turquoise forms veins up to three-quarters of an inch thick along the shears. Pyrite-bearing quartz veins are closely associated with the turquoise.

The Blue Gem mine was at one time located deep underground, accessed by tunnels as deep as 800 feet. This is of interest because the Blue Gem Mine and the Bisbee Mine in Arizona are the only two mines (of which we are aware) that turquoise was found that deep in the earth. The Blue Gem mine was once developed in extensive underground workings and open stoops. An audit several hundred feet long on the main structure connected to numerous shorter tunnels and several open stoops. Directly above the main audit was a glory hole some 100 feet long.

Duke Goff first noted the Blue Gem deposit in 1934. It was subsequently leased from the Copper Canyon Mining Co. by the American Gem Co. of San Gabriel, CA., owned by Doc Wilson and his sons, Del and William. The company operated the property until 1941 when the outbreak of the war caused a shortage of experienced miners. Both Del and William Wilson were called into the Army for the duration of the war, and this compelled the closing of the mine. Consequently, the lease was allowed to lapse and work was abandoned. In 1950 Lee Hand and Alvin Layton of Battle Mountain leased the mine.

Production of turquoise at the Blue Gem lease in the early days of the operation was enormous. Although there is no exact information, it is reported that the output amounted to nearly

$1 million in rough turquoise. The mine is still active, although Duval Corp is currently in the center of a major copper deposit developing it.

Pyrite in Blue Gem is unusual to see but not unheard of. Very little large material ever came out of Blue Gem, the majority found was small 1-mm "bleeder" veins and tiny nuggets which was perfect for Zuni inlay and fine needlepoint, petit-point and snake-eyes jewelry. Blue Gem turquoise was very popular in the late 1930's and 40's and was commonly used in the Fred Harvey "tourist jewelry" that is so collectable today. Blue Gem turquoise is extremely hard and stands up well to the test of time.

Blue Gem turquoise is a rare, valuable and historic American treasure. Quality Blue Gem Turquoise has been gifted with a wide range and variety of color. Because Blue Gem turquoise is very hard, a high polish is associated with this stone, and unlike most turquoise, won't easily change color. This turquoise has a unique character and many different looks all of which are striking, full of wonder and pleasing to the eye.

Production of the mine started about 1934 and continued into the 1970's. Blue Gem Turquoise is still some of the finest turquoise ever found, and unlike most turquoise mines, (in which the majority mined is chalky and only usable if stabilized) most of the turquoise found there was of gem-quality. Today the Blue Gem mine is not viable; it sits in the middle of a huge mining operation. The emphasis is on precious metals and the extraction of turquoise is considered more of a hindrance in the mining process rather than an asset. Even the ever-popular "Dump Diving" for turquoise through the overburden is not tolerated due to the very real danger of becoming buried in a slide. Insurance factors, equipment hazards, high explosives and safety issues along with a lack of interest from the mining company keep Blue Gem turquoise unavailable to the world, at least for now.

About the artist:

Navajo Silversmith Allison Snowhawk Lee

Allison Lee - Navajo Silversmith:
Speaking of the silver and gold jewelry he hand crafts, Allison Lee's captivating voice is sincere when he says, "One time my uncle told me that everything we build comes from the earth, like the silver that comes from the earth, or the turquoise that comes from the earth. That is a lot of energy. You put it together and you put your heart and mind into a piece. Then sometimes a certain piece of jewelry- I believe- it is made for a certain person. I usually have a ring, or something, that stays with me for about two or three years, until the right person comes along. And then that person buys that piece. I believe that every piece of jewelry that I make is made for somebody out there- it's made for somebody special. Whoever might be having problems, or something like that. In essence, that energy helps that person get help, by wearing pieces that we make. That is the way I look at it.

See full biography | See all items by Allison Snowhawk Lee

Related categories:

Navajo Jewelry See all items in this category

Related legends:

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? More about this legend

Silversmith Work

When and how the Navajo acquired the art of working metals is unknown but there are reasons for supposing that it was introduced among them, or at least more developed and improved upon by them, since the time they have occupied their present country?

More about this legend

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This site was last updated on September 24, 2020.

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