What is Sleeping Beauty Turquoise?
The Sleeping Beauty mine is one of the most beloved mines in the Southwest. Located near Globe, Arizona, Sleeping Beauty was first mined for copper and gold. But among jewelers it is most notable for producing unique sky blue turquoise. The gemstone got its name from the mountain where it is mined, which resembles a sleeping woman laying on her back with arms crossed. For decades, designers and collectors alike have treasured the sky blue hue of this stone. It's a classic color, and for many, represents the ideal turquoise color. The stone enjoyed a revival in the 1970s which stayed strong for over 40 years, thanks to European jewelers who used it extensively.
When it comes to turquoise, Sleeping Beauty is in a class by itself. The stones are some of the only varieties in the United States known for having little or no matrix (veining). The stones are widely used in jewelry and art and unlike stones from other mines, Sleeping Beauty is often stable enough to be polished and used in jewelry straight from the mine, without any processing or stabilization. I specialize in using Sleeping Beauty turquoise in my Las Cruces Cross and New Mexico Zia collections.
Unfortunately, the mine has been closed to turquoise mining since August 2012. The mine owners have shifted their focus to copper extraction, as the price of copper, a critical element in American infrastructure and industry, has risen significantly in recent years. There are currently no plans to resume turquoise mining, and what's left of rough stones is going fast. Buyers from Europe and Asia are grabbing as much as they can get, resulting in a quickly diminishing inventory. Because of the mine closure jewelry with Sleeping Beauty turquoise is becoming increasingly expensive. Anyone who follows television jewelry shows like QVC and HSN is seeing this on a daily basis.
Many of the most famous Southwestern turquoise mines have depleted their supply and ceased operation. The history of turquoise is ever changing as mines open and close and new varieties are discovered. To this day however, there has never been a stone that replicates the stunning beauty of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. It is one of the true gems of the Southwest.