The Native Americans were the first to see the Grand Canyon, and many lived down within the walls of the canyon itself along the Colorado River. Their history and culture is as much a part of this National Park as is the unparalleled scenery.
The Native American Art & Jewelry Gallery located at the Valle Travel Stop is an excellent place to celebrate this history and culture, and find museum quality Native American jewelry and collectible art. We have a large selection of Native American silver & turquoise jewelry, bolas, rings, bracelets, necklaces, hand-woven rugs, pottery, Kachina dolls, handmade knives, home decor, and sandpaintings. Decorators and collectors are sure to find pieces in our Gallery that they admire.
New In The Gallery!
White Buffalo Turquoise Jewelry
The Native American Art Gallery at the Valle Travel Stop is proud to announce a new line of authentic Native American Jewelry featuring White Buffalo Turquoise, with stones exclusive to the White Buffalo Mine of Tonopah, Nevada. This rare and beautiful stone has been proclaimed as being “One of the hottest things to hit the Turquoise jewelry market in a long time.”
White Turquoise has been a highly-debated topic among mineralogists and gem specialists. First discovered in the Dry Creek Mine on the Shoshone Indian Reservation near Battle Mountain, Nevada, in 1993, the miners were not certain what the brilliant white stone was. It had the properties of turquoise, but did not resemble the deep blue coloration that is such a familiar feature of the cherished turquoise stone. Instead, it was pale white with the likeness of fine porcelain. Because of the stone’s hardness, the miners had it assayed, and it did indeed prove to be turquoise. The Shoshone tribe is not known for jewelry making, and instead traded or sold the stone to the Navajo silversmiths of Arizona who worked it into fine jewelry. As White Turquoise was viewed as being as rare as the white buffalo, the Native Americans called it White Buffalo Turquoise. Howlite (native to California), quartz, and calcite stones have been misidentified as being white buffalo, but those who are familiar with the true stones can easily recognize the differences. The jewelry featured in our Native American Art Gallery has been created by fine Native American artisans using authentic White Buffalo Turquoise, mined from the White Buffalo Mine located in Tonopah, Nevada.
Turquoise is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum, and is truly one of the miracles of nature. Its creation depends on a specific chain of geologic events, perfectly synchronized over hundreds of thousands to millions of years which results in just one vein of the precious mineral. The incalculable number of chemical and physical process combined with the perfect environmental factors make turquoise a true “fluke” of geology. It is formed as a secondary mineral, apparently from the action of percolating acidic aqueous solutions during the natural weathering and oxidation of pre-existing minerals in layers of rock. The minerals that are present in this rock determine the color and striation patterns in the resulting turquoise deposits that form within cavities and fractures in the rock, forming veins of the precious gem. Turquoise generally forms in arid desert regions, which accounts for the remoteness of locations where it is mined. Typically, turquoise forms in fractures of highly altered volcanic rocks, often with the presence of limonite and other iron oxides. In the American Southwest, one of the richest sources of turquoise in the world, turquoise formation is associated with copper sulfide deposits in the rock which accounts for the different shades of blue of stones produced by different mines.
Owing to the manner in which it is formed, turquoise is almost always cryptocrystalline and assumes no definite crystalline external shape, such as fluorite, quartz crystals, or amethyst crystals. As turquoise is formed by filling in fractures and voids in rock strata, it is generally nodular or boryoidal in habit. Turquoise stalactite forms have been found in underground caves. Turquoise crystals are exceedingly rare, even at the microscopic scale. Gemstone-quality turquoise has a hardness of just under 6, or slightly more than window glass, which allows it to be fractured, cut and polished.
Turquoise is a rare and valuable mineral in finer grades, and has been prized as a gemstone for thousands of years. The ancient Greek elder Pliny referred to the stone as “Callais” in his writings. To the ancient Persians it was “Pirouzeh,” and the ancient Aztecs knew it as “Chalchihuitl.”
The name “turquoise” is derived from the Old French word for “Turkish,” which was given to the stone around the 16th century. The first turquoise that was brought to Europe arrived via Turkey, and originated from the old mines in the Khorasan Province of Persia. Turquoise was one of the first gems to be mined, and while many of these historic sites have been depleted, there are some ancient mines which still yield the precious stones today. Turquoise was mined in ancient Persia (modern Iran) for over 2,000 years from a rich but restricted deposit in the region of Nishapur. Turquoise deposits in the Sinai were mined by the ancient Egyptians over 3,000 years ago. Ancient treasures, such as the famous golden funerary mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamen were worked with turquoise.
The American Southwest is one of the world’s most significant sources of turquoise, centered around the deposits located in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and California. The oldest known deposits, which were mined by Pre-Columbian cultures are located in New Mexico, but Arizona is currently the most important producer based on the value of stones found. Nevada is the United States’ other major producer with more than 120 mines which produce significant quantities of turquoise. In other states, turquoise is produced as a by-product of copper mining, but in Nevada, most turquoise mines are focused on producing gemstones.
The distinctive sky-blue, aqua, and blue-green colors of turquoise are created from the presence of plentiful copper ore deposits which are typical of turquoise mined in Arizona. Green turquoise forms where iron is present, which is distinctive of the varieties mined in Nevada. True White Turquoise is the rarest of all varieties, and forms where no heavy metals are present. The first true White Turquoise was mined from the Dry Creek Mine in Nevada (now closed) and is the only vein of this turquoise known to exist. As this vein has been largely depleted and is no longer being produced, the Dry Creek variety is considered as “beyond rare” among Native American jewelry designers as almost all of the stones that exist have already been purchased or worked into jewelry.
As previously mentioned, the white varieties of turquoise are unique to Nevada, with the most prominent mines being the White Creek Turquoise Mine, the White Stallion Turquoise mine (lost for several decades, and recently re-discovered), the White Owl Mine, and the White Buffalo Mine.
The White Buffalo Mine, located near Tonopah, Nevada, was first discovered by famous Nevada prospector Lynn Otteson and produces a distinctive White Buffalo Turquoise that features a brilliant white stone with a fine black spiderweb of inclusions. As a rule, White Turquoise is considered as low-grade due to its chalk-like consistency, which makes it impossible to polish. The vein at the White Buffalo Mine is one of the rare deposits that is hard enough to take a brilliant shine, which leads the mine-owners to believe that it is a very rare form of albino-turquoise that lacks the metal and mineral chemical components that normally give turquoise its distinctive blue color. This white turquoise has a hardness of 5.5 to 7.5, which allows for a fine polish. According to the Ottesons, some mineralogists first thought the stone was a planarite (a member of the turquoise series), but true planarite is very rare and not white enough to resemble the stones found in the White Buffalo Mine. Otteson notes that, like turquoise, it lies in veins surrounded by black chert (an opaque variety of quartz). “Until someone can prove differently, we’re going to call it white turquoise from the White Buffalo Mine,” Otteson says. The Otteson family has mined and prospected turquoise in Colorado and Nevada for over 50 years, and has never come across anything like this unique stone, with its brilliant white color and gem qualities.
We invite you to visit our Native American Art Gallery at the Valle Travel Stop to view and purchase Native American jewelry featuring this rare and beautiful White Buffalo Turquoise from the White Buffalo Mine in Nevada. Our collection features beautiful gallery-quality pieces of jewelry, created by the finest Native American artisans, and carefully chosen by our knowledgeable buyers.
Our collections are carefully chosen by knowledgeable buyers who have made our Gallery an ideal shopping experience for collectors of Southwestern and Native American art. Many of our jewelry pieces are museum quality with gold, sterling silver, turquoise, gemstones, and opals, and feature many important works by Native American artists of the Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo tribes. We’re also pleased to show hand-woven Navajo rugs, sandpaintings, Kachina dolls, decorative ceramic pottery vessels, dream catchers, and other items that will appeal to the Southwestern art connoisseur.