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May 15, 2022 2 min read

Let’s talk turquoise. It’s quintessential to the collection of every cowgirl, country couture queen, and anyone with an appreciation for the art of southwestern style. But did you know there is a whole nomenclature for the shapes of the stones in your stash? Here’s a crash course in turquoise terminology so you can prattle on like a pro on your next jewelry junket.

Snake Eye

Snake Eye: Circular stones, typically on the smaller side. Snake eye stones are common components of clusters and, as the name implies, can often act as eyes for stone-and-silver depictions of critters or characters.

Petit Point

Petit Point: Essentially a teardrop shape. Because they are narrowed to a point on one end, wider and rounded on the other, they inherently work well in circular arrangements, perhaps as petals of a flower or a ring in a radial cluster.

Needle Point

Needlepoint:Slender slivers, pointed at both ends. Needlepoint turquoise lends a very delicate, intricate aesthetic to a piece and is often found in Zuni creations, particularly clusterwork and dainty dangle earrings.

Rough cut

Freeform:These are stones not shaped by the artisan. While they may have been treated or polished, they exist in their natural irregular and often asymmetrical shape. Rather than cutting the stone to suit the setting, an artist will create a setting that accentuates the stone.


BONUS: Cabochon vs. Nugget

A cabochon is a stone that’s been polished and shaped but isn’t faceted. A nugget is more textured turquoise, a stone with all its bumps and ridges that appears to have been plucked right out of the mine and popped into the piece. Cheat code: cabochon is convex, nugget is natural.

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