An introduction to Turquoise inlaying

Turquoise inlaying is one of the beautiful handicrafts of Iran, which is made by placing small pieces of turquoise stone in a mosaic shape on the surface of dishes, ornaments and decorative objects (made of copper, brass, silver, or bronze). Turquoise inlaying art in Iran  dates back to about 80 years ago and at that time a craftsman named “Yousef Hakiman” in the city of Mashhad began to work turquoise inlaying on ornaments such as bracelets, brooches, earrings and etc. and about 20 years later, this industry was taken to Isfahan by another craftsman named “Haj dadash”. Currently, the handicraft of turquoise inlaying is common only in Isfahan. Of course, it should be noted that the use of turquoise stone in ornament decoration in its primitive form is very old. For example, we can mention the decoration of the mask of the death of Tutankhamun, one of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Decoration of death mask of Tutankhamun with turquoise stone, 1332–1323 BC

Turquoise, the stone of wishes

Turquoise means Turkish stone. The reason for this naming is that Iranian turquoise was exported to Europe through Turkey. Turquoise is one of the precious stones that has been known in Iran since ancient times and has been called the stone of wishes. The inscription of the foundation of the palace of Darius the Great in Susa shows that in that history it was called Firoozeh (Ehsaein) and was brought from Khwarazm to decorate the palace furniture. In Italy, smooth blue turquoise, known as blue gem, is used as the most expensive jewelry.  Among the properties of turquoise stone, we can mention its soothing and repelling negative energies. Nine countries in the world have turquoise mines, but the highest quality turquoise in the world belongs to Iran’s Neishabour mine.

Turquoise jewel with gold veins, the stone extracted from Neyshabour mine

The art of turquoise inlaying

For making turquoise products, unusable turquoise pieces are collected from turquoise cutting workshops or turquoise mines. Then, these turquoise pieces are cleaned and graded in order to use turquoise pieces of suitable size proportional to the surface geometry of that product. In the next step, the desired object is heated and a special glue is spread on the areas of the object to be turquoise inlaid. which melts due to heat. While the glue is still soft and molten on the surface of the object and has a sticky state, some turquoise pieces, which have been prepared in advance according to the required size, are placed on the work surface.

 

Inlaying the turquoise stone pieces

The stones should be placed next to each other so that there is no gap between them as much as possible. After this stage, the areas covered with glue and turquoise stones are scrubbed to separate the extra pieces of the glue and grind the small protrusions of the stones. In the last step, the metal areas and the turquoise inlaid surfaces are polished to get a glossy state.

Polishing stage
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Tuquoise inlaying products

Quality criteria for turquoise inlaying products

–One of the most important factors in the quality of the final product of turquoise Inlaying is the quality of turquoise stone. Unfortunately, some profiteers have used counterfeit stones in their products, which has damaged the originality and identity of handicrafts and makes it difficult for customers to choose the real product. 

–The more turquoise pieces used and the more regular the pieces of stone are placed next to each other and the greater the distance between the pieces of turquoise is not seen, the work has more artistic value.

–Final operations such as polishing metal surfaces and turquoise areas are very important and therefore a high quality turquoise product should have shiny and clean metal surfaces and brilliant and beautiful turquoise inlayed surfaces.