The color of Cerrillos turquoise runs the entire range of the turquoise spectrum. Small volcanoes dot the area, and may explain the rapid shift in color between bright blue and deep green deposits. That bright blue turquoise is usually associated with the stones mined by the Tiffany Company in the early 1900’s. Other Cerrillos deposits produced a deep, dark green stone with brown matrix. In addition, the majority of Cerrillos turquoise is considered to be “high grade”, which is harder than the average turquoise stone.
Cerrillos Turquoise Mine
The Cerrillos turquoise mine (pronounced Sir-EE-ohs) is a very famous mine located in central New Mexico. The mine is actually a series of deposits in the hills 10 miles south of Santa Fe, NM. This turquoise has been mined for centuries, starting with the ancient Pueblos in the 13th century. Over time, the Spanish and Americans also saw the value and beauty of Cerrillos turquoise. The turquoise deposits were close to the surface and easy to mine, and were also close to the major population centers. Turquoise production ramped up in the 1890’s, and by 1950 the Cerrillos mine was depleted.
Cerrillos turquoise holds a special place in the history of Native American jewelry, and turquoise mining lore. The mine produced the first high grade turquoise in North America, and the age of Cerrillos turquoise makes it extremely valuable! Also, this turquoise is the only mine found to be near recently active volcanoes. The singular uniqueness of Cerrillos turquoise cannot be understated.
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For a picture of Cerrillos Turquoise in the Smithsonian please check out this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Cerrillos,_New_Mexico#mediaviewer/File:Turquoise_Cerillos_Smithsonian.jpg