In this category you will find a selection of antique turquoise beads from a bygone era. We also include some hard to find turquoise from more recent times. All of our turquoise has been sourced from Tibet and the Himalayan regions where it continues to be highly sought after.
In traditional Tibetan medicine, turquoise or Yu is valued for its many healing properties. It is believed to absorb toxins from the body and aid healthy liver function. It can also be used to treat fevers, eye disease and is an antidote to poison. Turquoise is also worn as an amulet to give protection whilst sleeping. Many turquoise beads coming out of Tibet and the Himalayas have turned a deep green colour from being worn on the body and slowly absorbing oils from the skin. Generally the bluer the colour the more prized it is as an amulet and the more potent it is believed to be.
Today the majority of so called 'Tibetan' turquoise is mined in China and it is uncertain if any true Tibetan sources are still active. It is believed that Tibetans had several sources for turquoise in antiquity, including: Tibet, Iran and China. It is believed that Tibetan turquoise was sourced from Kongpo in the South East and Dargyal in the North East of Tibet. Apparently the best source was located in the Gangchen mountains of Nari (also spelled Ngari) in Western Tibet. It is also reported that Tibetan rulers of this region paid a regular tribute of turquoise to the kings of Ladakh (Laufer 1913, Clarke 2004).
The majority of the antique turquoise beads on our website are around 100 to 300 years old, however, some are certainly much older. Each bead is sold on its individual merits. The more recent turquoise beads we offer are selected for their distinct quality.
John Vincent Bellezza's very informative article on the subject of Tibetan turquoise can be read here.