Royston is a turquoise mine located within the Royston District near Tonopah, Nevada. The Royston District consists of several mines including Royston, Royal Blue, Oscar Wehrend and Bunker Hill. While Royston is considered an active mine, it is a very small operation. Royston turquoise is known for its beautiful deep green to rich light blue colors. Royston stones are often two-tone, displaying both dark and light green and sometimes blue. Royston has a heavy matrix ranging from dark brown to gold in color. This matrix makes for beautiful combinations with the color variations of the stone. Today, the Royston district is still producing turquoise of high quality, but in limited amounts.
Pilot Mountain turquoise is made up of a group of mines at the southern end of the Pilot Mountains in Mineral County, Nevada a short distance outside of Tonopah. Pilot Mountain turquoise was first mined around 1930 as a tunnel mine. Then it became an open pit mine when heavy equipment was available around 1970. While Pilot Mountain is considered an active mine, it is a very small operation. Pilot Mountain turquoise forms in thin seams, with some nugget formations. According to the current owner, the turquoise has formed in thin seams, is high grade with a variety of colors ranging from blue to green with dark brown, black, or reddish matrices. Some of the matrix in high grade Pilot Mountain is beautiful spider web.
This large district, encompassing ten 20-acre claims, was very active from the 1930’s through the early 1950’s, when production peaked. The Number 8 turquoise mine in Carlin, Nevada was first mined in 1929. In its prime, Number 8 produced some of the largest nuggets of turquoise ever found. The color of Number 8 varies from light blue, blue with shades of green to beautiful dark blue. It is found with a black, golden, red or brown matrix. With the black and red spider webbing being the most valued. Today Number 8 turquoise is one of the most valuable stones that can be collected. High-grade Number 8 turquoise is by far some of the finest turquoise to ever have come out of Nevada.
Nevada Blue belongs with the finest turquoise to come out of Nevada. Once known as the Pinto or Watts mine, the Nevada Blue is near the crest of the Shoshone Range in Lander County, Nevada. The deposit was discovered by Jim Watts in 1901 and later sold. Access to this mine is extremely difficult. In its high-grade form the colors range from a medium to a dark blue with a black or brown spider webbing. Nevada Blue turquoise was well marketed in the 1970’s and was used by many of the Southwest’s greatest silversmiths. The April 1979 issue of ‘Arizona Highways’ magazine will attest to that fact with its pages filled with Nevada Blue turquoise in museum quality jewelry.
Morenci turquoise was mined in Greenlee County in southeastern Arizona. This turquoise is highly sought after for its blue colors and iron pyrite, or “fools gold,” matrix. From 1956 to 1984, the turquoise rights were granted to William “Lucky” Brown. Lucky retired in 1982 and his sons continued to mine the turquoise until the lease ended. The Browns still have quite a stash of rough stone, enough to release a small amount every year to keep it available. Morenci is highly valued and difficult to obtain.
This mine once produced a great variety of turquoise, included some of the finest examples of spider web turquoise as well as clear, deep-blue stones. Lone Mountain turquoise has always been noted for holding its color. Among all “classic” Southwestern turquoise, only Lander Blue is more valuable. A rare occurrence has been the “fossil turquoise” found in this mine. The fossil is of a crinoid stem. The Lone Mountain mine consists of a series of haphazard tunnels dug by miners chasing the veins of turquoise. The mine was claimed by Lee Hand in 1920 first as the Blue Jay Mining Lode and later, after seeing that so many mines had been named Blue Jay, Hand changed the mine’s name to Lone Mountain. In the 1960’s Lone Mountain was converted to a small open pit operations by Menliss Winfield. It continues to be mined in this fashion today. In 1979, I purchased Lone Mountain with the King family of Austin, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have had different partners over the years and the property has only been mined 6 over the last 28 years. The reason for this is the expense of mining and the regulations for small mine owners, makes it very difficult to be profitable. But with the value of the classic American turquoise mines being so great, it is feasible for this great mine to once again be of great value.
Rita J. Hapgood, a blackjack dealer at the Nevada Club at Battle Mountain discovered this turquoise deposit in 1973 while picnicking at Indian Creek. Later that year, she sold her claim to Marvin Syme and Henry Dorian, who formed the Lander Blue Turquoise Corporation. Lander Blue is almost entirely spider-webbed turquoise with colors from medium to deep blue and a black contrasting matrix. Although some other grades were found, only 90 to 110 pounds of the beautiful spider-web turquoise was mined. Lander Blue was a “Hat Mine,” so called because you could cover it with a hat. Today, this is the rarest of all Southwestern turquoise “classics” is also of the highest grade and thus pound for pound, the most valuable turquoise in the world.
Copper mining in the Mineral Park Mining District around Kingman has produced a large supply of turquoise through the years. The Kingman mine re-opened in September 2004 after being closed since the 1970’s. About 95% of Kingman is stabilized which makes it very affordable. The remaining 5% of the Kingman turquoise stays in its natural state. High-grade Kingman turquoise is medium to dark blue color and frequently flecked with pyrite and sometimes quarts. In its high-grade form it has always been considered among the top quality turquoise. The best Kingman being produced today is deep blue with black matrix with some being spider web.
A Indian Shoshone sheepherder was said to discovered the lode in 1970, on the south range of Bald Mountain in Lander County, Nevada where he stumbled upon a vein of turquoise on a hillside while tending his sheep. The Indian Mountain was owned and operated by Ed Mauzy and J.W. Edgar, both legends in Nevada turquoise mining. Mining at Indian Mountain was carried on from late May to early October with a recovery of “about three pounds” of good turquoise a day. During winter the mine could be covered up in 10 feet of snow. This mine hasn’t produced in over 20 years. Indian Mountain turquoise is rare and worth collecting if you can find it. It produced both blue and green turquoise, sometimes combined, with brown to black spider web.
The Fox turquoise mine, located near Lander County and discovered in the early 1900’s, was once Nevada’s largest producer of turquoise with some half million pounds. At that time, Dowell Ward, the mine operator, amassed one of the largest collections of turquoise rock. The mining operation continued to produce turquoise in quantity after 1968 and is still producing today. Fox turquoise is quite hard and runs from shades of green to an aqua blue color. It is found as both nuggets and vein material. The names Fox, White Horse, Green Tree and Smith to differentiate among the colors of turquoise produced in the area and to create a larger perceived share of the market.
Candelaria turquoise was mined in an area not too far from Tonopah, Nevada in the Candelaria Hills. The turquoise in this area was usually found in thin veins and is known for its beautiful almost electric hues and sometimes with a light matrix. Along with a bright blue material a beautiful dark blue turquoise with red spider web has appeared from older collections and has now been cut and is appearing in fine jewelry. It has a luminous radiant quality, and is highly collectible.
This mine, which is no longer active was located about six miles south of Battle Mountain, within a large copper-mining operation. Of the several Nevada mines that are named Blue Gem, this is the largest and most famous. It produced a great variety of turquoise from intense blue to deep green combinations with a hard, irregularly distributed matrix. Blue Gem’s hardness and fine colors makes this turquoise much sought after by both jewelers and collectors.
The Blue Diamond mine, located in central Nevada, opened in the late 1950’s and was mined up to 1980. This mine is considered a “hat mine” of which there are very few. A hat mine is a small deposit of turquoise that, “you can cover with your hat.” The stones that the mine produces, which are usually large pieces of plate form, looks a great deal like Stormy Mountain turquoise because of its black smoky matrix. This stone features dark smoky matrix surrounded by a brilliant blue, The characteristic black chert is ever-present. This mine is now closed and buried under thousands of tons of rock.
Bisbee turquoise is a significant by-product of the huge Lavender Pit copper mine, which is now closed. With some of the finest turquoise coming from the section of the copper mine known as the “Lavender Pit,” where for years copper miners would bring out fine turquoise in their lunch boxes. In March of 1972 a miner named Bob Matthews was given the only lease ever granted for rights to mine Bisbee turquoise. He was said to have recovered more than 2,000 pounds of good to excellent turquoise by 1974 . Bisbee turquoise is famous for its deep blue color and its smoky black matrix, which has been described as “smoky Bisbee” and as “lavender.” Bisbee turquoise is as good as turquoise gets. In 2004 the Phelps Dodge Mining Company no longer allowed anyone near the hazardous old mine and buried the turquoise pit under 100 feet of dirt. There will be no more Bisbee mined. Any Bisbee on the market today was officially mined prior to 1974.