Spiny oyster turquoise is a stunning gemstone that has been used in jewelry for centuries. This unique stone is made by combining real shell from the spiny oyster with turquoise, resulting in beautiful and colorful patterns that are truly one-of-a-kind.
But how exactly is spiny oyster turquoise made? In this article, we’ll explore the process of creating this beautiful gemstone, as well as the history and significance of both spiny oysters and turquoise.
So sit back, relax, and prepare to learn all about the fascinating world of spiny oyster turquoise.
How Is Spiny Oyster Turquoise Made?
Spiny oyster turquoise is made by combining real shell from the spiny oyster with turquoise. The spiny oyster is a bivalve mollusk that lives in warm waters in the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula and thrives from North Carolina to Brazil. The shells are a byproduct of the seafood trade and are harvested for their beautiful colors, which range from orange to deep purple.
To create spiny oyster turquoise, the shell is first cleaned and cut into small pieces. These pieces are then combined with turquoise, which is a hydrous phosphate formed through a chemical reaction from minerals that leak into the cracks of rocks and turn into a clump of turquoise.
The combination of spiny oyster shell and turquoise creates beautiful, colorful patterns in the stone. No two stones will look exactly alike, making each piece of spiny oyster turquoise truly unique.
The History And Significance Of Spiny Oysters And Turquoise
Spiny oysters and turquoise have a long and rich history in various cultures around the world. The Incas, for example, used spiny oyster shells as offerings to their gods for a good harvest or needed rain. They called it “mullu” and made sure there was always someone to harvest the mollusk for temple offerings. Similarly, some cultures believe that jewelry made from spiny oyster possess similar properties to the ocean, which is its natural habitat. These pieces are believed to have a pure calming power and bring a sense of awareness and understanding.
Turquoise, on the other hand, has been used for centuries by Native American tribes for both decorative and spiritual purposes. It is believed to have healing properties and provide protection against negative energy. The beautiful blue-green stone was also highly valued by ancient Egyptians, who used it in jewelry and other decorative objects.
The combination of spiny oyster and turquoise in jewelry-making creates a unique blend of two highly valued materials. The natural beauty of spiny oyster shells and the spiritual significance of turquoise make spiny oyster turquoise a highly sought-after material in the world of jewelry-making.
Despite its popularity, spiny oyster is becoming rare due to over-harvesting. This depletion of the shell has left some artisans reworking pre-existing pieces as a way to cope with the finite amounts of this beautiful source material left in the world. However, with responsible harvesting practices and increased awareness about the importance of preserving our natural resources, we can work towards ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and significance of spiny oyster turquoise.
Gathering The Spiny Oyster Shells
Gathering spiny oyster shells for use in jewelry and lapidary purposes is a laborious and expensive process. The shells are still entirely harvested by hand from the waters of the Gulf of California, where they can be found living in shallow to moderately deep waters.
Harvesting the shells is a risky business, especially for the purple variety, as they tend to live in deeper waters, making them extra difficult to find and harvest. Divers must swim down to the ocean floor and search for the spiny oysters, which are often hidden in crevices or buried in sand.
Once the divers have located the spiny oysters, they must carefully remove them from their hiding places without damaging the shells or harming the creatures inside. They then bring them back up to the surface and sort them by color and size.
The purple spiny oyster is particularly rare and difficult to find, which contributes to its high cost and desirability in jewelry making. The shells are ground off and polished to reveal their beautiful hues and striations, and then crafted into rings, earrings, necklaces, etc., usually set in sterling silver.
Preparing The Turquoise For Inlay
Before the turquoise can be inlaid into jewelry, it must be carefully prepared. First, the raw turquoise is cut into small pieces and sorted by color and quality. The pieces are then shaped into the desired size and shape for the specific inlay design.
Next, the silver or gold setting is created to hold the turquoise in place. The setting is carefully measured and cut to ensure a perfect fit for the turquoise pieces. Once the setting is complete, the turquoise pieces are placed into the setting and secured with a special adhesive.
For spiny oyster turquoise specifically, the spiny oyster shell pieces are also prepared in a similar manner. They are cut and sorted by color and quality, then shaped to fit into the inlay design alongside the turquoise.
The final step in preparing the turquoise for inlay is to smooth out any rough edges or uneven surfaces. This is done by carefully sanding and polishing the surface of the stone until it is smooth and shiny.
Inlaying The Spiny Oyster Shells Into The Turquoise
One of the most popular methods of creating spiny oyster turquoise is by inlaying the shell into the turquoise. In this process, small pieces of spiny oyster shell are carefully cut and shaped to fit into the crevices of the turquoise stone. The shell is then glued into place and polished to create a smooth, seamless surface.
The inlaying process requires a high level of skill and precision, as the shell pieces must be cut and shaped to fit perfectly into the turquoise stone. The artist must also carefully choose which colors of shell to use, as they will have a significant impact on the final look of the piece.
Once the inlaying is complete, the stone is polished to bring out its natural beauty and luster. This process can be done by hand or with specialized equipment, depending on the artist’s preference.
Inlaying spiny oyster shell into turquoise is a time-consuming and intricate process, but the end result is a stunning piece of jewelry that showcases the natural beauty of both materials.
Polishing And Finishing The Spiny Oyster Turquoise
Once the spiny oyster turquoise is formed, it is important to polish and finish it to bring out its natural beauty. The process of polishing and finishing the stone requires a gentle touch and careful attention to detail.
To begin, the stone should be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth to remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated during the manufacturing process. Next, a jewelry polishing cloth or a clean, tightly-woven microfiber cloth can be used to gently polish the stone.
If you want to achieve an extra shine on your spiny oyster turquoise, you can use a nail buffer block. Use step 1 file and smooth, and step 2 to bring shine on your cab surface. This will help to bring out the natural luster of the stone and create a beautiful shine.
It is important to avoid using any harsh chemicals or soaps on spiny oyster turquoise, as these can damage the stone and cause discoloration. Instead, stick to gentle cleaning methods and take care when handling the stone.
Uses And Benefits Of Spiny Oyster Turquoise In Jewelry
Spiny oyster turquoise is a highly sought-after gemstone due to its rarity and the method of harvesting, which involves diving deep to find and secure the precious specimens by hand. The metaphysical properties of spiny oyster turquoise are believed to be similar in nature to their proven physical benefits.
One of the primary uses and benefits of spiny oyster turquoise in jewelry is its ability to take away negative energy from your surroundings and promote healthy vibes. It can also promote self-realization and help calm your nerves when you are standing in front of a crowd. Additionally, it can stabilize mood swings, making it useful for those who struggle with certain conditions of indecisiveness and anxiety.
Spiny oyster turquoise is also believed to possess similar properties to the ocean, which it calls home. Some cultures believe that these pieces have a pure calming power, while others believe that they bring a sense of awareness and understanding.
Furthermore, spiny oyster is becoming rare due to over-harvesting, which has left some artisans reworking pre-existing pieces as a way to cope with the finite amounts of the beautiful source material left in the world. By wearing spiny oyster turquoise jewelry, you can contribute to the preservation of this precious gemstone.