Godber/Old Burnham Turquoise
Turquoise is formed by water seeping though cracks or fissures in the host rock…the matrix. As the water trickles down it interacts with copper, zinc, aluminum, phosphorus and iron. Turquoise can only form in places where water is scarce…the aridity, the dryness, aids evaporation and minimizes the possibility that new water flows will dissolve the deposits. The composition of the matrix is not critical it can be metamorphic, igneous or sedimentary. The fissures and voids in the host rock are the spaces where water flows and deposits turquoise. The color of the stone reflects the relative amounts of various metals in its composition – more copper make for a bluer stone, more zinc, greener.
Leonard and Geraldine Paquin Zuni Gem Grade Old Burnham Turquoise Bracelet $2,200
Navajo Pueblo Bracelet with Turtles 1930's or 40's High Grade Old Burnham Turquoise $2,200
Old Burnham Turquoise Bracelet 1930's $950
The oldest turquoise mines in the world are in the Middle East, many in Iran. The Persians, the early rulers of that country, exported turquoise to many places in Europe and America. It is also known that Lorenzo Hubbell at the Hubbell Trading Post was importing large quantities of Persian cabochons for his silversmiths at the turn of the century. The word ‘turquoise’ comes from ‘turquois’, the French name for the beautiful blue stones French jewelers acquired from Turkish middlemen.
Just prior to the turn of the century George Runz, an officer with Tiffany & Co., began advocating that American turquoise was a gemstone equal or superior to the Persian varieties. And today, most knowledgeable southwestern collectors not only prefer American but want to know the specific mine or region from which it derives.
The valuable American mines are small and many are closed. The amount of high-grade material from all of the mines is quite limited. Some of the mines are so small they are called ‘hat mines’… because you could put your hat over the entrance.
The Godber/Old Burnham mine was first discovered in 1932 by two prospectors who soon sold to Frank Burnham. By 1934 Burnham had sold the claim to the Godber family. The mine is located about 30 miles east of Austin in central Nevada.
Much of the Godber/Old Burnham turquoise is found in nugget form in seams of clay. Even though big machinery may be used in the initial excavation, the actual separating of the turquoise from the vein of the surrounding clay is carefully all done by hand. A good day’s work might produce only a few pounds of turquoise.
The three bracelets shown are examples of rare high-grade gem material both in color and size. The stones were likely mined in the 1940’s.
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