Working in a pawn shop that serves the Navajo & Zuni Indian Reservations, which is the Heart of Turquoise Country, allows us to see hundreds of pieces of jewelry with stones (fake & real) in one working day. Plus, this is where the majority of Navajo & Zuni turquoise art is made. That means Gallup is a main stop on the turquoise dealers trail, selling these pieces of blue gold to the trading posts and supply shops in town, and lets not forget about red gold, coral. All of this means that Gallup is also a perfect location to peddle cheap knock offs of the real stuff and if you are going to stay in business in this town, one known for authentic Native American art, you better know the difference between real stone and the fake stuff.
Block Turquoise Pin/Stabalized Turquoise Ring?

Block Turquoise

Stabalized Turquoise

Turquoise is a soft material, 4 – 5 on the mohs scale, which means most turquoise can be scratched with a penny. So, it is very common for a turquoise dealer to stabilize the stone. There are many different techniques used for stabilizing turquoise, some even have a patent. Basically what is done is turquoise is introduced to a foreign substance that is going to harden and deepen the color, like a plastic resin. Stabilized turquoise is real turquoise that has been treated and is not considered fake turquoise, but is considered less valuable then a gem grade piece of turquoise. However, some stabilized turquoise can be expensive, an example would be enhanced blue Kingman Turquoise that is very popular with local artisans.
Compressed Turquoise

Stabilized Turquoise

Kingman Turquoise, Chinese Turquoise, Persian Turquoise

Block Turquoise beads with dyed web matrix

Fake turquoise might have many of the same properties that a real stone has and this can make it very difficult to tell the difference. Some techniques take actual pieces of turquoise chips and compress them under extreme pressure to create what can look like a real piece of turquoise. Another techniques is taking turquoise dust or small pieces and gluing them together, that can look very much like a piece of Kingman enhanced turquoise. Then other techniques give you what is very common in the fake world, a block piece of blue plastic, might have some webbing from dye, and this is called block turquoise. Block turquoise is very easy to cut and shape and many times is found in small stone cluster work.

Plastic Block Turquoise

Plastic Block Coral

Plastic Block Turquoise

We have the advantage of seeing turquoise all day long and like anything, the more you see it the easier it becomes to detect the real from the not so real. Nothing can replace the experiences of seeing both real and fake. However, things you can look for are:

1.a plastic like appearance
2.scratch it, if a finger nail can scratch it, most likely it is not turquoise
3.look for imperfections, turquoise comes out of the ground and has a host rock and will reveal that in matrix. Some stones have limited amounts of host rock and can make this difficult, but refer back to 1 and 2.
4.fake turquoise is less expensive (in most cases) does the price reflect a lesser quality materail.
5.last, does it look right, a person’s intuition goes a long way
6.ask, we have a forum dedicated to your questions

Natural Rough Turquoise

Stabilized Rough Turquoise

Every year we hear of local and state initiatives to keep imitation Native American art out of shops that advertise authentic Native American made merchandise. Many times one of the helpful clues on whether something is made overseas or here by a Native craftsman is whether the piece has real materials.


Greetings! This is so very helpful. When I first heard the term “block turquoise”, I did not quite understand that literally, it is formed in a block. Thanks so much for the picture and for the explanation. Sandra

Thank you for looking, always interested in other topics if you had a question.

Hi jason,

is it possible for you to help me see if my navajo bead is a fake ?

basically i brought some navajo vintage bead in japan for quite some money.

Do let me know if i could if there an email i could send the pictures to.

Thanks !

You can send pictures to jason@perrynulltrading.com.

Hi Jason,

Is all the turquoise on this website, natural and not stabilized?

We have both natural and stabilized turquoise for sale, in this article it identifies what each is.

Hello, Nice discussion on turquoise. I have a question concerning fossilized ivory.
I have seen on two or three on-line auctions offering fossilized ivory fetish necklaces. Any comments concerning these items.

We use to get some amazing fetish necklaces by Pete & Dinah Gasper with fossilized ivory, some other very famous artists have uses this material in inlay work, like Loloma. Hope this helps.

Jason, is compressed turq considered less valuable than stablized? I’ve heard that most people want their turq stablized to keep the color and stone beautiful. Any thoughts on that? Also I know that many vendors sell dyed blue howlite as well as other stones and try to pass them off as turq. If a piece of turq can be scratched and displays white underneath is that howlite or something else? (By the way, white howlite is a beautiful stone also.)

The idea is to take real turquoise waste and compress it into a stone, real turquoise made stone. It depends, take a very low grade piece of stabilized turquoise, the enhanced look might not even help it out. A compressed stone could have a very nice look, very beautiful set in silver. It definitely is going to get worn more, but probably not as valuable as the stabilized stone. It could be anything, but most likely turquoise. Low grade turquoise can be white before stabilization, referred to as chalk.

Hi please can you tell me what are that stamp on my real sterling silver turquoise concho belt price in 1976 1200 dollars thank you
and that squash blossom necklace I am suspicious it not real turquoise ?
thank you so much

<img src=/uploads/db1846/original/1X/1af2aa39938f09a878722e19f9368524ae218af8.jpg">

<img src=/uploads/db1846/original/1X/5bc740560c1b55d89767871fd02bc9256b2c0228.jpg">

Better picture

<img src=/uploads/db1846/original/1X/df2a427db08b03b7d5bba6ea56b1d150cdb500da.jpg">

Much better picture, thanks, can you give me a picture of the front?

Hello! I’m glad I found your website. I bought a sterling ring with what I was told is “turquoise” at a reputable store in El Paso Tx that sells some Native American made jewelery. The back says “sterling” with the initials JW. I’ve had it for a few months and have started to doubt that it is real turquoise. They are all a bright blue color, with no veining, and do not feel like a stone. The “stones” feel a lot softer, almost like plastic. I don’t know why I don’t ask more questions before I bought it. It was a reputable dealer, and I just assumed they were telling me the truth. Here’s a picture. Hopefully you can help me. It looks like it might be the block turquoise that you talk about in one of your posts.

<img src=/uploads/db1846/original/1X/6e19349625f23761e4045aad844ac030c996685d.jpg">

Enhanced Kingman can look like this. Justin Wilson is a Navajo artist who uses this hallmark and makes this style, can you include a picture of the hallmark? Thanks for sharing.

Greetings, Jason! The top half of this page is not showing the photos on my computer. I’m not sure why–ae they still there on your end?

Thank you,


We have updated the forum and have not gotten the chance to fix all the images. If you scroll below the article you will see a list of images, those are the ones in the article. Will work on getting the images into post.

Hi I bought this ring and was told that it was Egyptian turquoise and have tried to melt the turquoise with a hot needle but nothing also direct lighter flame to the turquoise only makes it warm does this look like it could be real turquoise? thanks for your expertise in advance

Hi, I’m sorry I know this is an old conversation but please could I have some advice? I have this turquoise stone sold to me as natural from a reputable semi-precious stone dealer but as I know nothing about turquoise at all I am a bit worried by its appearance and texture. It feels a bit plastic/resin. I tried a hot pin, 1st time in a I got a slight smell (in a veiny bit), second time I didn’t. I did leave a slight mark. It is very shiny on top, not so much underneath. It is neither cold nor warm. There is a small dent/cut on the underside, I have very gently scraped this with a scalpel and it feels gritty, soft and has left a mark (please see pics). Under a loupe I can see long striations that on the surface of the cab, top and underside. I don’t mind if it’s been stabilised but wouldn’t want block turquoise! I’d be grateful for any help you can give me. Many thanks, Jen :slight_smile:

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