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  • Date :
  • 4/13/2013

Turquoise: An auspicious gemstone


The charming shades of turquoise have delighted humans for centuries.

The oldest turquoise mines with an antiquity of over 5,500 years are located in Neishabour, Khorasan Razavi province.

Turquoise cutting and polishing have been prevalent in Mashhad’s bazaars since 1,000 years.

The discovery of an ancient skeleton wearing a turquoise belt in Shadiakh region, Neishabour, is a proof of the antiquity of turquoise use in Iran.

Status Quo

Turquoise is an important souvenir of Neishabour and Mashhad. It is considered as one of the five auspicious stones. There are many religious sayings recommending the use of this gemstone.

After Yemeni agate and pearl of Najaf, turquoise is highly valued by religious people.

Turquoise is to be studied by UNESCO for registration as a world spiritual heritage.

Hadi Ahmadi, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization’s Center for Silk Road Studies, said turquoise cutting is part of studies underway for the global registration of Silk Road.

Ahmadi added that Silk Road projects include tangible and intangible relics.

As a product traded by merchants on the Silk Road, turquoise was sent to UNESCO along with the Silk Road dossier.

Turquoise cutting has drawn worldwide attention. It is one of the gemstones still extracted from Neishabour’s mines traditionally. No modern technology is applied there.

A majority of turquoise cutting workshops are located at Bazaar Reza (A.S) in Mashhad. About 2,000 craftsmen are directly and indirectly involved in turquoise trade.

Turquoise is considered an important product exported to Persian Gulf littoral states and East Asia.

Turquoise Production

Muhammad Javad Pishbini, secretary of Turquoise Science and Industry Coordination Center, said Firouzeh City has the most precious turquoise.

Although Afghanistan, Egypt, the US and China have turquoise reserves, Neishabour’s turquoise is distinguished.

While Kerman and Semnan also have turquoise mines, Neishabour’s turquoise is used as a criterion for pricing the turquoise globally.

Fortunately, those who are involved in turquoise cutting have sufficient skill. Launching training courses and creating university fields related to turquoise industry can boost Iran’s turquoise standards.

The global registration of a craft will have long-term effects and motivates the youth to become involved in it.

Currently, about 360 turquoise cutting units have been registered at Mashhad Turquoise and Agate Cutters Association.

The turquoise cutting industry was transferred from Neishabour to Mashhad after the martyrdom of Imam Reza (A.S), the eighth Imam of Shiites.

The turquoise extracted from Neishabour’s mines is transferred to Mashhad’s workshops for cutting.

Turquoise has impurities, as only 20-30 kg of turquoise are extracted from one ton of turquoise ore.

Then, turquoise pieces are cut, pasted on wood and rolled on a grinding wheel for polishing. Then they are cleaned with a polishing powder such as tin oxide.

Turquoise cutting can also fetch forex revenues, as the industry can create more jobs compared to other gemstones.

Source: Iran Radio Culture

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Jade in Iran (Part 1)

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