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What is a good substitute for turquoise color?

What is a good substitute for turquoise color?

What is a good substitute for turquoise color?

Turquoise is a unique bluish-green color that has been popular in jewelry, clothing, and home decor for centuries. However, finding an adequate turquoise substitute can be challenging when the real stone is unavailable or too expensive. This article will explore suitable alternatives that capture the striking blue-green essence of turquoise.

The Distinctive Properties of Turquoise

Turquoise is a rare mineral that has been prized since ancient times for its striking blue-green color. The name “turquoise” dates back to the 13th century and comes from the French phrase “pierre tourques” meaning “Turkish stone” because it was first brought to Europe from Turkey.

True turquoise varies in shade from sky blue to greenish robin’s egg blue. It often contains matrix, the spiderweb-like veins of brown or black rock that run through the gem. This gives each turquoise stone a unique look. While pure blue turquoise is rare and valuable, most turquoise contains both blue and green secondary hues that complement each other beautifully.

In addition to its distinctive color, turquoise is also revered in many cultures as a protective stone that brings good fortune. Native Americans have used it extensively in jewelry and carvings. Many cultures around the world utilize turquoise for its believed healing properties.

However, natural turquoise is relatively rare. High-quality turquoise can be very expensive. The cost depends on factors like the stone’s color saturation, matrix patterns, cut and polish. This makes substitutes an attractive option for designers and consumers who want the look without the high price tag.

What Makes a Good Turquoise Substitute?

With natural turquoise being so scarce and pricy, an effective turquoise alternative should mimic the stone’s unique color as closely as possible. Here are the characteristics to look for in a worthy turquoise substitute:

– Vibrant blue-green or greenish-blue hue similar to real turquoise
– Contains distinct veining or matrix patterns for visual interest
– Durable and accepts polish for use in jewelry
– Affordable compared to natural turquoise
– Available in quantity for larger projects
– Safe for prolonged contact with skin if used in jewelry

Ideally, a turquoise substitute should capture the striking blue-green color while exhibiting the matrix patterns that give turquoise its one-of-a-kind appearance. It should also be suitable for use in jewelry, carvings, mosaics and other applications where turquoise is traditionally used.

Top Turquoise Substitutes

Here are some of the most popular and effective substitutes that provide a similar look to real turquoise:


Howlite is the most common and affordable turquoise substitute. It is a porous white stone that readily absorbs dye to achieve turquoise coloring. The porous surface also allows howlite to be imprinted with matrix patterns that mimic natural turquoise.

Howlite has a Mohs hardness rating of 3.5, making it suitable for jewelry like pendants and earrings. Its low price point compared to natural turquoise makes it ideal for mass production. The dyed howlite available today offers an extremely close visual match to actual turquoise.


Magnesite is a natural stone that occurs in turquoise-like shades of blue, blue-green and green. It has an earthy, chalky texture and can display brown, black or white matrix streaks similar to turquoise.

With a Mohs rating of 5, magnesite is durable enough for most jewelry applications and can be buffed to a nice polish. It is more expensive than dyed howlite but still affordable compared to natural turquoise. The natural color makes magnesite an excellent turquoise alternative.

Reconstituted Turquoise

Reconstituted or “stabilized” turquoise is made from crushed turquoise particles that are combined with epoxy resin and pressed into blocks. By controlling the ratio of matrix to color, manufacturers can create reconstituted turquoise with the ideal turquoise look in unlimited quantities.

Stabilized turquoise accepts a high polish and displays the matrix patterns found in natural turquoise. It costs less than untreated natural turquoise while offering a remarkably similar appearance. Most imported turquoise jewelry today utilizes reconstituted turquoise.


Chrysocolla is a natural copper mineral that occurs in vibrant blue and blue-green hues similar to turquoise. While pure chrysocolla is too soft for jewelry, chrysocolla that forms in quartz is hard enough to be used in some designs.

Chrysocolla has brilliant color saturation and often displays natural matrix patterns like turquoise. It is somewhat rarer and more expensive than the other substitutes but provides an exceptionally close visual match.


Variscite is an uncommon phosphate mineral that occurs in shades of blue-green, teal and turquoise green. It has a hardness between 5 and 6 on the Mohs scale, making variscite cabochons feasible for pendants, pins and other jewelry if backed and protected.

Variscite makes an excellent turquoise substitute when cut properly to show its striking color. Supplies are limited so variscite is difficult to obtain in the quantities needed for mass production.

Stone Hardness Price Range Visual Similarity
Howlite 3.5 $-$$ Excellent
Magnesite 5 $-$$ Very good
Reconstituted Turquoise 5-6 $-$$ Excellent
Chrysocolla 3.5-4 $$-$$$ Excellent
Variscite 5-6 $$-$$$ Excellent

How to Use Turquoise Substitutes

Turquoise substitutes can be incorporated into jewelry designs and other applications in the same way as natural turquoise:

– Cut cabochons for use in rings, pendants, pins, bracelets, and more
– Polish and drill for necklace beads and stretch bracelet beads
– Create mosaic artworks and inlay designs
– Carve figurines, boxes and other decorative objects
– Dye or coat wood, bone, antler, clay and glass beads

Always check the hardness rating before using a turquoise substitute in a particular design. Softer stones like chrysocolla may need to be stabilized or used only in protected settings. With proper care, many turquoise substitutes can convincingly take the place of real turquoise.

Caring for Turquoise Substitutes

While most turquoise alternatives are less vulnerable than natural turquoise, care should still be taken to maintain their color and appearance:

– Avoid prolonged sun exposure which can cause fading
– Remove jewelry before activities like gardening, cleaning or using chemicals
– Store jewelry pieces separately to prevent scratches
– Clean with gentle soap and water only, no ultrasonic or chemical cleaners
– Avoid drastic temperature changes which may cause cracking
– Consider applying wax or sealant to enhance durability

By caring for your turquoise substitute jewelry and objects responsibly, you can enjoy them for many years before re-dying or replacement becomes necessary.


Finding a suitable turquoise alternative lets you achieve the iconic blue-green look without paying exorbitant prices. Howlite, magnesite, reconstituted turquoise, chrysocolla, and variscite are excellent turquoise substitutes that mimic both the striking color and matrix patterns. These affordable options allow designers, artisans and consumers to utilize a popular gemstone aesthetic in an abundant, environmentally responsible way. With proper care, substitutes provide the vibrant turquoise styling that our ancestors coveted for centuries.