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Turquoise page # 2
From prehistoric times through the early part of the 20th century, the land that is New Mexico was this continent's forerunner in turquoise extraction.

 

the Cerrillos Hills, just south of Santa Fe;
the Jarilla Mountains, north of Orogrande;
the Little Hatchet Mountains, west of Hachita;
and the Burro Mountains, southwest of Tyrone.

Arizona is home to three of the most famous and prolific turquoise production areas, the open-pit copper mines at Kingman, Bisbee and Morenci. There, turquoise has actually always been a secondary product. Specific turquoise mining rights were paid to take out the blue-green gem.

In Colorado, turquoise was primarily found in the same mountainous areas that were favored by gold and silver miners during the 1880s. Places such as King's Manassa, Cripple Creek and Leadville produced respectable yields of gem-quality turquoise, but none was finer-or more valuable than the deposits mined near Villa Grove.

Late in the 1800s, mining operations in Colorado, Nevada and Arizona began to catch up with the prolific yields of mines in New Mexico. Soon after the turn of the century, Nevada - with its rich north-south belt of mineralization-became the nation's No. 1 producer of turquoise.

At the Sleeping Beauty Mine, in the Globe-Miami area east of Phoenix Arizona, an estimated 500 to 1,000 pounds a year are still pulled from the ground. Similar in color to the clear blue of Kingman turquoise, that from Sleeping Beauty is soft enough to be sliced so that it has less matrix and a uniformity of color. Zuni craftspeople, among others, use this turquoise because it is economical and can be easily matched.

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