Block Turquoise

I don’t understand the bad rap that block Turquoise gets.
In the 1980’s it was available at Thunderbird Supply. It was presented as natural, ground Turquoise held together with resin and/or other materials.
They also offered ground Turquoise for purchase by the lb. Some craftsmen were making their own blocks.
I have about 1/4 lb. of this material. Purchased in the 1980’s. My husband and I were doing inlay work at the time.
I would often see people carving/grinding the block Turquoise.
Knew someone used the ground Turquoise to make cabochons. He had several molds. Would combine the Turquoise and other materials.

Here is a chart from another thread that shows current types of block Turquoise. These contain no real Turquoise.

In the 1980’s there was a variety of ground stones available in block form for carving.
The person mentioned above lived in NE AZ, on the Navajo Nation. This was about 35 years ago.
He was an accomplished silversmith. Also did some pieces with gold/copper. Wish I remembered his name.

My questions are:
Is there such a term as vintage block Turquoise (or other stones)?
Do items made from these have more value than the modern day, synthetic block items?
If a piece contains vintage block Turquoise, has excellent metal work, can the natural block Turquoise be overlooked?

Thank you

I suppose what you’re talking about is reconstituted, with some actual turquoise in it.

For me, the concept of better block vs. worse block, more valuable vs. less, makes little sense: it has an inherent limitation of quality that I would categorically avoid.

Surely you do understand the bad rap of block when it comes to the deceptive trade in it, when it’s sold falsely as turquoise and bought unwittingly as turquoise. Block exists to satisfy the low end, which can be fine if it’s fairly marketed…and so very often is not.

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the problem i have is the intent to deceive with 100% resin/plastic - manufacturers of block get better and better at imitating natural stone, such that it’s getting harder and harder to spot in some cases. i understand an artist using less expensive material if they need to, because natural, hard, gemmy turquoise can be cost prohibitive to work with. BUT the problem is the 2ndary market sellers not bothering to advertise if what they’re selling is block or not. I’m sure i have some block in my collection, but not intentionally. i recenlty bought some really nice little earrings made from compressed turquoise, that i bought because they are an unusual older form, and i can’t afford the antiques. If I’m going to buy block, I’d rather know up front.

as for mojave or some of the flashy compressed material they are making now, i dont really have an issue with it. I don’t care for the look of it, when it’s mixed with bronze or spiny or is dyed not-from-nature colors, but that’s just my taste. The same reason chip inlay isn’t my jam - just don’t care for the look of it.


Agree, if block Turquoise is misrepresented as natural.

I think block turquoise has its place as a material, but as others have said, this is fine as long as it’s properly labeled. I’ve seen some very beautiful jewelry made from block turquoise and it surely offers an alternative price point for buyers. To one of your points, if I love the piece and it’s made well, I’d overlook the fact that it was block but I’d consider it costume jewelry.

However, even if it is technically real turquoise, I consider it an inferior material and generally avoid buying it, in the same way that I would rather buy real gold or silver rather than plated jewelry. It costs less and looks as good, but I’d rather invest my money in the real McCoy rather than an imitation.
I want to buy something that’s as close to its original state as possible.

Nobody else may know if I’m wearing a fake, but I will. :wink:

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This. They may not know, either; buyer definitely has to beware. It makes buying secondhand difficult unless you really know turquoise well, but secondhand stuff is too awesome to turn down looking through! It’d be a real disappointment to pay real stone prices only to find out it’s block.


Exactly. The same goes for paying a premium for Native American made, when you’re actually buying an import.