Welcome, December, and your sublime birthstone, the turquoise.
Turquoise is amongst the earliest of mined gemstones, collected by humans for over 5,000 years. The stone has been found in Persia, the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), Afghanistan, China, India, Mexico and the American Southwest. Egyptians buried their dead with carved turquoise talismans carefully inserted within the deceased's body wraps. The stunning burial mask of King Tutankhamun was decorated with inlaid turquoise. The Book of Exodus refers to the High Priest's turquoise encrusted breastplate. In the Middle East, mosque domes were sometimes decorated with (or painted) turquoise to convey the notion of "Heaven on Earth." And, in the New World, archeologists have found ancient turquoise artifacts of the Zuni, Pueblo, Aztec and Mayans. To this day, Native Americans from the American Southwest use turquoise in their exquisite silver jewelry. Worldwide, turquoise has long been believed to be a holy or lucky stone.
The name "turquoise" comes from the Medieval French word "turquois"—a reference to the Ottoman Turkish traders who first introduced Persian turquoise to Western Europe. The gemstone achieves its sublime blue-green color from the copper and aluminum found in the stone. Turquoise has traditionally been mined in small scale, hand-processed operations. But, in the United States, turquoise is sometimes the byproduct of larger-scale, automated copper mining.
The English Art Deco vase, shown above, is not turquoise—it has a turquoise glaze. Flecks of green dapple the aqua blue color, reminiscent of some real turquoise. It was made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian in England in the 1920's or 1930's. Beneath the turquoise glazing one can see swirling, wave-form incising. Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome piece of Art Deco pottery.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248