Source for real turquoise online

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Forum topic by MrWolfe posted 07-21-2019 01:14 AM 302 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MrWolfe's profile


260 posts in 578 days

07-21-2019 01:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: crushed stone inlay turquoise howlite synthetic stone

Hey Everyone,
I’ve got a little bit of mesquite and I want to inlay some of the voids and wormholes with crushed turquoise. I’ve started looking online for a reliable source. I am not wanting to buy huge amounts (at first at least) but I also want to avoid Howlite or any other dyed or synthetic stone. I’ve read from MagicGil that chips and small stones can be ground in a coffee bean grinder and I am looking for that size… chips and gravel I can grind down. I want a finished product that is a mix of small gravel/chips and powder.

Any suggestions for authentic turquoise online? And I am not sure what a reasonable price per ounce would be.
I’m also open to suggestion on how to use it…. thin cyanacrylic or epoxy… and what kind of epoxy if that is what you’ve used before.

I’m wanting to step up my small boxes, maybe make a small cabinet and I think crushed stone inlay might be interesting. Also, any suggestions on other colored stones that have been used as inlay material. Would you just use progressive grits of sand paper to polish it?

Replies on what to do and what to avoid to would be great.

Thanks in advance,

12 replies so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4071 posts in 1037 days

#1 posted 07-21-2019 02:50 AM

It looks to me like there are a bunch of vendors selling it on amazon with prices ranging from $10/oz and up for real turquoise. Howlite looks to be about $20/lb, so I see why people use that.

Haven’t used it myself, but with thin CA, you’ll need to basically fill the void with powder before putting in the glue. With epoxy, you’ll stretch it a lot further, since there will be more epoxy filling the void.

Good luck!

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View MrWolfe's profile


260 posts in 578 days

#2 posted 07-21-2019 03:34 AM

Thanks Dave, I almost bought what I thought was turquoise from China on ebay ( I made an offer) then I saw a negative review about it being howlite and the color sanded off when it was finished. I didn’t even know about howlite. I’m looking at your link and it cost a little more than I was hoping it would. I’ll have to start out with just a small void to fill and use the epoxy instead of CA.

I’m still wondering about other stones/colors I can maybe use.
Thanks again.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1593 posts in 2185 days

#3 posted 07-21-2019 12:27 PM

You can use any color stone you choose if you can get it ground down to the powder crush mix you want. I have some green opalite I collected from the Gemfield Claim in Goldfield, Nevada. It’s a fairly soft rock, but it’s also hard on any woodworking tools. Sanding works ok on it, but cutting is out of the question.

Grinding any rock in a coffee grinder would probably wear it out well before it’s time.

Make a rock crusher with a piece of 1” 10” pipe with a cap on one end. Use a piece of solid steel rod 3/4” 12” or longer as the crusher. drop in a few small pieces of rock, crush to your hearts content, pour into a cup/dish, crush some more. Do this until you think you have enough, then sift what you’ve already crushed. Put the larger stuff back into the pip[e, and crush it again. Sift and repeat until you have sufficient quantity to finish the job.

I’ll sell you a pound of this stuff if you want. I’ll look for a picture of a Cottonwood bowl I did last year.

The picture below shows the final result. Look closely at about 12 o’clockthere are several filled cracks. At 11 o’clock there is another At about 10:30 into the bowl is another, and some more at bottom off center left.

This is the rock. The background is distorted in color somewhat, but the color of the rock is pretty colse to the real color.

Here is a picture of a crusher someone posted. It’s not as long as I indicated, but it should work if you can keep the crush rod in the pipe.

If you want some of this rock, PM me, and we’ll discuss it…......... ............. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Lazyman's profile


3748 posts in 1842 days

#4 posted 07-21-2019 01:08 PM

If you just want to dip your toe, the 1 oz packs on Amazon are not bad and you won’t have to grind them unless you need to fill some smaller cracks. Even though 1 oz. doesn’t sound like much you’ll be surprised how far it will go. Just fill any deep cavities with some resin first, leaving just a little room on the surface. I also bought a piece of turquoise on eBay from a guy in India for only about $7 with free shipping. It was a resin stabilized piece (most are) about 3×4” and 1/4” thick. I was worried that it would be a ripoff and take weeks or months to arrive but I figured for $7 I would take the risk. It turned out to be the real thing and was literally delivered all the way from India in just a few days.

Like Jerry, I’ve used other types of rock, like malachite, and I have even bought some brass and copper powder (also from Amazon) to fill voids. I made a pipe mortar and pestle similar to the one Jerry showed above. I whack it with a hammer to break big chunks and then grind by hand. I did have to grind the outside of the cap on the pestle so it would fit inside the mortar.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Knockonit's profile


595 posts in 657 days

#5 posted 07-21-2019 01:26 PM

craigslist in arizona cities, always someone selling small pebbles of turquoise, usually a reasonable price, i picked up a small tub of it a few years back and have used it sparingly, for some projects, a little goes a long way
rj in az

View leafherder's profile


1830 posts in 2407 days

#6 posted 07-21-2019 01:43 PM

Hi Jon,

You might try a local or online craft or bead supply company – they sell strands of turquoise chips at fairly inexpensive prices for people who string their own bead necklaces. Also strands of other stone chips (malachite, lapis lazuli, howlite, etc.) I used some in the walnut snowflake ornament I posted here a couple of years ago got three 24” strands of chip beads (aquamarine, moonstone and quartz) for $12 they were sold by length not weight but each strand was at least 2 ounces. With any gemstone material the bigger the pieces the higher the price – I worked in a jewelry store for ten years and we always had to explain that to customers. If you see a one ounce piece of solid turquoise for the same price or less than a one ounce bag of pieces that is a good clue that the big piece is fake. It is much more cost effective for you to buy a string of little chips than a larger piece of solid turquoise The chips will also be easier to grind up than a big piece. You could also look for a stone called Chrysocolla – similar color to turquoise but a softer stone and less expensive.

Good luck and keep us posted

-- Leafherder

View Lazyman's profile


3748 posts in 1842 days

#7 posted 07-21-2019 02:16 PM

Be careful with the bead supply places. If they are cheap and turquoise colored, they are often howlite in my experience. Make sure that they say that they are the real thing, no matter what color of stone you are buying.

BTW, Amazon sells lots of dies and powders you can mix with epoxy that will look pretty close to turquoise. The nice thing about these is that you can use your turning tools to finish turning them. Once you put stone into the voids, you will not want to ruin your turning tools. With stone inlays, I usually use a dremel with carbide bits to smooth out the stone and then remount on the lathe to sand, polish and finish.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View MrWolfe's profile


260 posts in 578 days

#8 posted 07-21-2019 03:11 PM

Some great tips here this morning!
I like the pipe work mortar and pestles Jerry and Nathan have posted here.

Jerry, that is a gorgeous cottonwood bowl! Let me pm you and we can work something out.

Nathan, you keep contributing to my posts with some valuable info, thank you for the heads up on the cedar/oxidizing tip on my other thread. Your orbs are fantastic, added to my favorites. Great tips about filling the void first before adding the minerals and I never thought about brass or copper. I’m going to look at Ebay again and see if I can find something from China or India. I might have to get a dremel now, been putting it off but that sounds like the perfect tool for smoothing the inlay.

Very cool RJ, I’ve gotten pallets to reclaim the wood from Craigslist, didn’t think about minerals. I’ll be looking at CL today.

Leafherder, I do have a local bead shop that I will be visiting. Thanks for that tip and for the suggestion of chrysocolla.

Thanks again everyone.

I’ll post some pics when I get some work done!

View Lazyman's profile


3748 posts in 1842 days

#9 posted 07-22-2019 02:34 PM

By the way, I usually just use CA for inlaying stone. I pack it in as tightly and level as I can and then just dribble the CA over it. This is where having some finer dust when you grind your own can be handy to fill the voids between the larger granules. I’ve tried mixing it with epoxy too but for smaller voids it seems like half of it just winds up on the surface and you have to then grind it all away. The CA is just easier. Note that in really porous woods the CA can tend to soak in and darken the wood around the void a bit so I sometimes apply a light finish first and then use the dremel to make sure that the cavities don’t have any finish in them, though I am usually too lazy to do that.

When using the brass powder I mix it with epoxy. You need to add enough of the powder so that it is sort of a doughy consistency like a wood filler. If you don’t use enough, you wind up with sort of a greenish color instead of a metallic look. Leave the dough just a little proud of the surface and you can work the brass/epoxy mix with your lathe tools once it cures. You may want to leave just a little extra thickness of the wood to turn away to get it nice and smooth. You will want to sand to a higher grit than normal to polish it until is shines. I usually go to at least 1000 grit but lower grits are probably good enough. Usually when I am done sanding, even the wood is polished so it looks like it has a finish on it. Unless it is just a few small voids to fill, I usually use a 30 minute epoxy to give me time to mix it up and fill all the voids before it becomes too stiff to work with. Wear gloves.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View MrWolfe's profile


260 posts in 578 days

#10 posted 07-22-2019 04:52 PM

Great tips Nathan,
I especially appreciate the tips on CA and epoxy.
Thanks for all the input and please feel free to add more if you have something to share. I am biting the bullet on a flex shaft tool with 1/4 hp motor and upgrading to a Foredom H.44T handpiece. The flexshaft is a Harbor Freight #40432 (I don’t usually shop HF but I found a few comments in videos that mention this). It was $38 with a coupon and I bought a 2 year warrenty for another $10. The Foredom H.44t has three collets and will take up to 1/4 inch shanks (Amazon for $58). The Foredom motors are much much more expensive and have less HP. I’m hoping I’ll get more than two years of use out of this but I think it will be a very useful tool. I will be using this setup for grinding and polishing the stone inlay mostly but it will be nice for carving and texturing wood too. I’m also going to make a mortar and pestle like the pics posted above sometime this week.
Thanks for the replies here.

View MPython's profile


151 posts in 267 days

#11 posted 07-23-2019 05:22 PM

Rio Grande is one of the largest jeweler’s supply houses on the world They are very easy to deal with and they sell crushed turquoise:

View MrWolfe's profile


260 posts in 578 days

#12 posted 07-23-2019 10:00 PM

Thanks MPython.
Seems like that would eliminate the howlite/synthetic issue I’ve been worried about.

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