By William Ernest Waites
There periodically is a flurry of activity on the internet from people discussing, looking for or debunking so-called "white turquoise" or "sacred white buffalo turquoise."
It is a fascinating subject and one imbued with a touch of magic and mystery.
I recently read an article on the subject by a dealer who sells Southwestern art. This dealer claims to be very knowledgable about white turquoise. To give her her due, she does not claim to be a gemologist or a mining engineer.
She tells an interesting story, however, about the origin of "white turquoise and the legend behind "sacred white buffalo turquoise."
It seems it was discovered at a mine near Battle Mountain, Nevada. The mine owner had it assayed and determined that, despite its pale coloration, it was turquoise. Supposedly there was very small vein of it and the original miner has passed on, leaving the privately owned mine in the possession of his wife and children. They have decided not to continuing mining the vein.
As a result, it is even rarer today than it was when first discovered. Despite its rarity then, so rare that it was named by some in honor of the equally rare white buffalo, it was not very popular and was difficult to sell. Perhaps it was because, according to this source, it was first marketed as "porcelain".
Once it became identified as a very pale form of turquoise, with brown or black matrix and an occasional light blue or light green caste, it took on a special appeal. I suppose it didn't hurt to be associated with the sacred white buffalo.
Today, white (buffalo) turquoise is hard to come by. There are some pretenders, however. Howlite, a very white stone, is one.
Summary, if tempted to buy jewelry with white buffalo turquoise (supposedly) in it, be cautious. Be sure to reserve the right to have it evaluated by a certified gemologist, with a right of money-back return.
Actually, that is not a bad idea with any item of Native American jewelry or art. Any reputable dealer operating on line should allow you to inspect your purchase and return it within a reasonable time period if you are unhappy with it - for any reason.
That is a guarantee we offer at our web sites, ZuniLink.com, TribalWorks.com, Native-PotteryLink.com and Native-JewelryLink.com. We welcome you to inspect your purchase, let us know within 10 days if it is not what you thought it was based on its web presentation, and return it for a purchase price refund.