In 1974, a friend of my fathers found turquoise south of Ajo, Az. Tom invited my dad and I and a couple other of my dad's friends to come down. We all went down there and Tom took us up the mountain and we all laid out individual claims ( but we all worked as one). We sent the rock in to a testing lab and it came back turquoise, however after many years experience I'm not sure what we were mining was turquoise, nor do I think it was variscite (way to hard), the only thing I can say to call it is Varicoise! But that was basically the start.
I've been working with turquoise on and off since 1974, whenever I could. I spent 16 years in the Marine Corps so I wasn't always able to work with turquoise. After we started mining it then we tried to sell it but in the 70's if it wasn't blue it wasn't turquoise and ours was green. Just after that I got into silversmithing and started putting my rock in jewelry (I'm doing that again too).
(More of my interview with Bill can be found at the bottom of this pictorial documentary.)
Here is the completed Ithaca Peak graduated rondelle necklace.
..... continued interview .......
There is a lot of loss in beadmaking. I figure a 30% to 40% loss just in cabbing. With bead making, depending on the material (stabilized vs. natural) the loss can be as much as 70%.
Depending on the material it can take anywhere from a week to 6 weeks from start to a finished necklace. Some people could do it faster but I just cant sit that long so I do it in spurts. Stabilized turquoise is a lot easier then natural (in most cases).
The creation and trade of high grade turquoise is a passion of mine. I hope that by showing the process a few more people can understand why it is important not to support unscrupulous turquoise sellers that sell turquoise without telling people exactly what it is. As long as the seller is honest about what is being sold then the fake stuff has it's place in the market just like stabilized turquoise does.
North American Turquoise is all beautiful but I think my top choices would be all top grade; Lone Mountain, Paiute, Bisbee, Morenci, Godber/Burnham and Gold Acres. Although I'm very stirred by multi-colored Carico and lime green Orvil Jack and anything that I find in the ground.
I've recently been doing some digging at my Taubert Hills claim and eventually will have some really nice turquoise from that mine.
Keep an eye out in the store for some of Bill's hand rolled beads. They will be going in soon if I can part with them. http://www.magpiegemstones.com/