Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Is "Yellow Turquoise"? Real Stone or Fraud?? Plus More Info

Chinese "Yellow Turquoise" IS from China, IS NOT Turquoise
I've seen some jewelry lately on etsy and elsewhere online made with "Yellow Turquoise". There are different colors of this yellow material.  Some of it is more of a grey-green color with spots in it. Some is bright "crayon" yellow.  Some is bright green, some dark green.  There are over 30,000 results on etsy when you search for "yellow turquoise".   Sometimes it looks like other stones around (like chalcedony or agate) with strangely mottled colors of greens and yellows and brown, oranges and greys----and looks nothing like turquoise!  Some look like obvious pieces of plastic.  Some are calling it "peach" turquoise.  To me, the real gemstone "turquoise" is the most beautiful gem of all, and so whatever they call this,  it's not the beautiful turquoise color associated with the gemstone.   So, what is it really? Here are some examples of these items being sold as "turquoise":

Dyed Howlite and Gypsum Chunks and Slabs---NOT Turquoise
These four pictures show some of the types of dyed yellow (and red, purple, green--in a rainbow of colors) fake "turquoise" which are possibly dyed plastic, dyed chunks of gypsum and dyed Howlite or Magnesite minerals.  These are sold as nuggets or slabs, sometimes carved into hearts and other shapes.  None of these are turquoise, even though they are often marketed as "natural" turquoise, complete with info where it was mined.

A quick google search of "what is yellow turquoise" took me to several bead sellers, like Fire Mountain Gems, who call it Yellow "Turquoise" Beads  (with  quotes around the word "turquoise"!), which says it's not really turquoise.  They have inexpensive strands of this stone, which they say are "natural".  When you click on the item and read their description, it further describes this material as "a lively blend of quartz and jaspers" or sometimes that it's serpentine with quartz inclusions.  So they're not trying to push this as genuine turquoise, which is good., who describe themselves as "one of the nation's top websites for beads",  has a really enthustastic header about it:
"Yellow turquoise, or Chinese turquoise as it is sometimes called, is sweeping the beading world! Its popularity is beginning to rival the more traditional blue turquoise. Add a splash of intense color to your designs with this beautiful stone. These stones are natural and will vary in color and pattern."
Rivaling blue turquoise?  Well, since it's so cheap and people are marketing this as a color variety of turquoise, that's the plan---to rival the real thing!  It's really too bad that they don't say what it really is---Jasper (which is a quartz stone), NOT any type of turquoise.

But google's first result, right at the top of the search results page, in big, bold black & white says this:

Sometimes referred to as Chinese turquoise or yellow Chinese turquoise. Most likely this stone is a form of jasper. It ranges in color from yellow to lime.

SO.... as anyone and everyone can see, there is no such thing as "yellow turquoise".  It is actually another stone, probably Jasper.  (Or else it's dyed howlite or magnesite or gypsum or some other thing that's NOT turquoise.)   If I can google it and see this in about 2 seconds, why are bead vendors still calling it "turquoise"?  Why are etsy sellers offering jewelry with this yellow "turquoise"?  Especially when----at best---it looks like Jasper, and sometimes looks like slices of dyed plastic.   So what's going on?
Rough Yellow Jasper

Supposed to be Yellow Turquoise Pendants.  Really? 

The answer is:  "Creative marketing" which is just a gentler term for not being forthright or honest, in order to make a sale.

And if confronted, I'd bet some sellers offering this stone would say, "Oh I bought it at (fill in the blank) and they said it was yellow turquoise, so that's what I'm going to say!"  Either they don't care what the stone is, or they knowingly are selling something that's advertised as something else--because that's what they've chosen to do already.  They're not interested in honesty.
Yellow Jasper Bead

Turquoise is a color as well as a semi-precious gemstone.  The stone itself is so historically popular, and has been desired and treasured for thousands of years, that the gemstone's name is the very description of the color.  Turquoise It is NOT yellow.  It is NOT white.  (NO such thing---white or "buffalo" turquoise is howlite, or another mineral or composite stone.)  It is NOT orange or peach or neon-lime or red or purple.   It is an opaque gem that is ONLY blue-green or green-blue, and varying shades of green.  Chemically, turquoise is a hydrous phosphate of aluminum and copper---more copper, it's more blue. There is a picture below that shows the various colors, in ranges of blues to greens, of genuine turquoise.

BUYER BEWARE!!!  I'd avoid any seller who is offering this simulated "gemstone" without divulging what it really is (whether jasper, or howlite, etc.)  because they're deceiving you in order to make a quick buck.

Here is a great picture of a genuine piece of turquoise.  Remember:  it's called Turquoise because it's the color TURQUOISE.  This beautiful specimen displays a range of blues and blue-greens:

Genuine Turquoise

I've copied a page from regarding the chemical structure, etc., of genuine turquoise---including the color variations.  Note that yellow is not included:

And the link above to shows this:

That's a GREAT picture of green turquoise, and a chart showing the range of colors.  None are yellow, or white, or other neon colors, including red or orange,

Here is a picture of the various colors of genuine turquoise:


UPDATE:  4/17/14:  I received a comment from a reader, who directed me to a website,, insisting that she read that there IS such a stone as yellow turquoise, and it derives its color from the iron in the surrounding rock.   I looked at this website, and they are discussing the value of the beautiful turquoise colored stones, and it actually states:

"...After blue, blue-green stones are preferred, with yellowish green material being less desirable. Departure from a nice blue color is caused by small amounts of iron substituting for aluminum in the turquoise structure. The iron imparts a green tint to the turquoise in proportion to its abundance." 
 There are pictures of the yellowish green turquoise (left, from, which by no means are "yellow" or are EVER referred to as "yellow turquoise."  This picture shows the turquoise which are greenish or yellowish green turquoise stones----genuine turquoise (but less valuable and less desirable than the "true" turquoise color).

So, as I've said, there is NO such stone as yellow turquoise, which although marketed as yellow turquoise is either jasper or dyed howlite or plastic or gypsum, or some other such thing. 

In particular, be aware that "Chinese yellow turquoise" is actually jasper, not the gemstone turquoise.

==============>  UPDATE: October 12, 2015 and August 2016:  A reader submitted a response, which I thought of publishing just so I could respond, but I decided to delete it since the author's blog would be visible (and her identity) which would be unfair since I don't want to embarrass anyone,  so I'll just address it here.  (And AGAIN, in August of 2016, this same person sent another note to me regarding this fake yellow turquoise, this time in a completely unhinged and irrational tone so I reported and deleted it and won't post any of it----but here's the gist of the first email sent.)
Someone wrote (regarding so-called Yellow Turquoise) (emphasis mine):
"It is a Jasper but it's name really is yellow turquoise. I don't think you can called [sic] it a fraud when so many people know it by that name. I also bet if you ask the jewelers most of them will in fact know that it's a Jasper. This post is based on so little facts and you assumed so much. I think it's time for you to do a little more research."

WOW!!   If you KNOW it's actually Jasper and not really any type of turquoise (a gemstone), and yet you call it Turquoise (because "so many people" do), that is the very definition of fraud!!  And not MY definition-----Per the FTC, any gemstone that is a "simulant" (looks like a gem) or "lab created" (or treated or enhanced, etc.) MUST be identified as such.  This is to protect consumers from fraud.  So even though you believe that "everyone" knows that so-called yellow turquoise is actually Jasper, legally it cannot be called "yellow turquoise" without saying it's a simulant made of Jasper!
THOSE are the government's rules, Kyla---I didn't make them up.   (If you are not aware, the Federal Trade Commission has specific rules and guidelines for the jewelry industry that must be followed.  For starters, read the guidelines here:
My post is 100% based on FACTS and research including legal research, so I think I have a lot more knowledge than you have suggested.   But now YOU know what the legal guidelines are regarding gemstone identification.  If you want to argue with that, take it up with the Federal Trade Commission---it's their rules.

I write this blog to be informative to people who may not be aware of certain things, so they're not defrauded and can make educated purchases.  
I think most people understand that.


  1. Thanks for the heads up on this yellowish stone.

  2. According to Fire Mountain Gems:

    Yellow "turquoise" in special bulk packaging. Known as "turquoise" because it occurs in the same mines and has similar matrix patterns, this stone is actually a serpentine with a high amount of quartz inclusions. The tones range from yellow to green and black to brown.

    Of course, this could change again in the next couple of years!

  3. Well, they put the word turquoise in quotes which means it's not really turquoise. And to claim that's because it occurs in the same mines is silly---many other minerals can be found in turquoise mines too, such as malachite--and no one would call that "deep green 'turquoise'" or something like that! At least FMG divulges that it's actually serpentine with quartz---DEFINITELY not any kind of turquoise, with or without quotes. Thanks for your comment!

  4. If you were trying to describe the stone I know as Yellow Turquoise to me as a yellow jasper, or a yellow serpentine with inclusions, I would not picture the stone as quickly or correctly as with the term yellow turquoise. Some may think it ugly but some may like it, or a designer likes the color paired with another stone, or that color ends up on Pantone's trend list, and someone is looking for it. They won't search for yellow-green serpentine, they will search for yellow turquoise because that is the common (albeit possibly misleading) name. You have to use the common name online if you want people who are looking for what you are selling to be able to find it. But I think it is like a number of possibly misleading jewelry terms that ideally should be described by jewelers in body copy when selling online. The quotes FMG uses are another good technique that can be used in titles. The term Yellow Turquoise is like cherry "Quartz", Tibetan "Silver", and Vegan "Leather". Yes they are all misleading terms motivated likely at least in part by the comparison to a costlier material. Yellow turquoise is the name of this stone, but ideally sellers should put this in quote marks and/or educate their buyers what that actually means in the body copy, as those outside the trade may make reasonable but incorrect assumptions about what the material actually is. Parenthesis can do this quickly and easily e.g. Made with Yellow "Turquoise" (common name for a naturally yellow-to-green serpentine with quartz inclusions).

  5. "Yellow turquoise" is not a gem. "Cherry Quartz" is not a gem. "Tibetan Silver" or "German Silver" is not silver. These are marketing terms that use words people know, like "quartz" and "silver" and "turquoise", to defraud or fool buyers. There are many, many more examples of this type of "creative marketing". Putting quotes around a word is not enough, and laws and rules are put in place to protect consumers from fraud. Can you imagine if people tried to sell a diamond ring that was glass by simply using quotes around "Diamond"? That doesn't fly with the FTC, and for good reason. I think I was pretty thorough in my post above, and if you read the link I provided to the FTC rules, you can clearly see that it's NOT okay to call a gemstone that is other than genuine turquoise, the term "turquoise" with or without quotes. Titles in descriptions online are to be absolutely CLEAR and consumers aren't expected to search through descriptions to discover what they're really buying. Of course, people need to carefully read descriptions and research what they're buying, but it's the responsibility of a legitimate and honest seller to ligitimately and honestly describe it in the first place. The purpose of my blog is to be informative and to educate, and to help consumers so they aren't fooled or defrauded. Just because it's common to see quotes around words like "turquoise" or "quartz" doesn't make it right, or ethical. I would never purchase anything from an unethical seller, and I hope others would avoid that as well.

    1. Just to add: if someone online is selling "Yellow Turquoise" in quotes and that term is IMMEDIATELY followed by the true description of what it is (such as dyed Howlite or Jasper), then that's fine. I realize that people search for things like "yellow turquoise" because it's seen everywhere---but the purpose of my post is to let people know that this is NO such thing as yellow turquoise, and to explain what it really is.

      Thanks again for your comment, Sarah!

  6. I've been using Yellow Turquoise and didn't realize till I decided to look it up for some odd reason to find out what it really was, is it real Turquoise or not.... it doesn't really bother me it is pretty but even though yes they should stipulate in the description what it really is which I found a few different ones below.

    Yellow Turquoise Gemstone Meaning

    Yellow Turquoise is mostly a jasper or serpentine gemstone that is yellow with brown, green and red within. The black webbing that appears throughout this stone is hematite. Yellow turquoise helps communication, intuition and creativity, and brings wisdom.

    Chinese Turquoise Gemstone Meaning:

    Chinese Turquoise is mined and processed in the Hubei province in China. Most of this turquoise is enhanced with wax treatment, restabilization or dyed.

    African Turquoise Gemstone Meaning:

    African Turquoise is actually natural Jasper that resembles turquoise.

    Simulated Turquoise Gemstone Meaning:

    Simulated Turquoise can be made up of one of several stones (howlite, dolomite, glass, plastic or polymer clay) that can be dyed to resemble turquoise.

    Black Turquoise Gemstone Meaning:

    Black turquoise is actually naturally occurring Onyx whose markings can resemble that seen on natural turquoise.


    1. Thank you so much for your comments and information! In addition to the "Chinese Turquoise" which is another mineral, real Turquoise is almost always stabilized, and sometimes colors are added in that process to make turquoise in colors not found in nature---such as yellow, lime green, and purple. Not natural, but pretty! There are also some very interesting and beautiful composite or "mosaic" turquoise gems that are made of genuine turquoise pieces, but with added gold veins of pyrite, and are found in lots of enhanced colors, including yellow.

      Thanks for reading my blog!

  7. Thank you so much for the description of " Yellow Turquoise". Now all I have to do is try and sell it as it actually is: Dyed Jasper. It is what it is...Thanks again.

    1. My pleasure, Mike! I'd describe it as Yellow Jasper, and mention that it's also sold as "yellow turquoise" even though it's another gem--jasper. Honesty is always the best and I think buyers appreciate it!

      Thanks so much for reading my blog!

      -Dawn :)