I love southwestern jewelry, and in particular turquoise. Maybe that’s why I made a move from the greenery of Maryland to the turquoise skies and terra cotta landscape of New Mexico less than a year ago. One thing I’ve found out about turquoise, however, is that there's a lot of “knock offs” produced in China and sold as if they are “real” turquoise. Sadly, with the introduction of modern treatments, imitations, and synthetics flooding the market these days, the ability to authenticate “real” turquoise and other opaque gems is challenging to the average consumer.
So, when I found out that the Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque is privately owned and operated by the Lowry and Zachary families, representing five generations of miners, writers, lapidaries, and educators, I was understandably excited to check it out so that I could learn more about turquoise.
You enter through a simulated mining tunnel with embedded turquoise veins and nuggets, much like a miner might find them in their natural state. Then you are treated to a seminar where you'll learn about everything you wanted to know about turquoise. As a bonus, you can bring in one piece of turquoise for identification of the mine source and the current value. That alone is worth the price of admission!
The museum is open Monday through Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm, and includes a 90-minute guided tour along with a turquoise lapidary demonstration. Admission costs are $10 for the general public with discounted $8 admissions for seniors 55+, AAA, military, and children under 18. Children 4 and under are free.