The Turquoise Museum (Albuquerque)

The Turquoise Museum

The Turquoise Museum sits in a little mini mall located in a storefront but don't be fooled this is a fantastic stop to learn all about this gemstone that has played such a huge part in Southwestern design and culture.   We walked through a simulated turquoise mine shaft and then into the rest of the museum where our first stop was a room with displays of some really big and unusual turquoise stones.  The museum has the largest known single piece of turquoise and get's in the shape of George Washington and probably about 8-10" inches in diameter.We learned that turquoise is found in other rocks and there is a display where you can weigh the rocks and compare the turquoise to the stones it's found it.  Joel, who was about to turn 6 put a huge rock up on the scale and told me exactly how much it weighed-I am talking pounds and ounces!.  As a mom, that was just one of those little moments where I was really impressed and proud watching the wheels turn in his head.  Next up, a tray of turquoise stones, where your job is to pick out the genuine turquoise from the fakes.  Everyone enjoyed guessing.  Some were obvious, some not so obvious.  I wish I been paying better attention, as later on the trip I found out this fabulous antique turquoise bracelet I bought was a fake.  Isaac and I wandered over to a table where we saw all kinds of silver stamp outs and jewelry parts.  We saw how the stone is put on a little palette and then the silver shapes are formed around it.  Looking at all these jewelry parts made me think back when I was a kid.  My dad is an artist by trade and was always experimenting a trying new and creative things.  One year he bought a rock tumbler. We put the rocks in and each day we'd rinse them and change the sand to a finer grade each day until at the end of the week we'd rinsed our rocks to find beautiful smooth and colorful stones.  The kit also came with these kind of cheesy brass jewelry settings which didn't really fit the rocks.  Looking at all the tools and shapes on this display at the museum, gave me a whole new appreciation for the artistry and skill required to make those settings fit the stones turning them into beautiful jewelry.  Be forewarned, like me, you will leave craving a fabulous turquoise bracelet, necklace or some other piece of jewelry as an awesome souvenir.  Unlike me, please pay attention and learn how to spot the genuine from the fake so you don't get taken advantage of.   The Turquoise Museum is a DO NOT MISS.