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Bisbee turquoise is perhaps one of the most valued and best types of turquoise ever produced. Having only ever been actively mined by one independent miner for a short 2 year period from 1972-1974, the turquoise is primarily a by-product of the large copper mining operation owned by the Phelps-Dodge company. Copper miners would often sneak small amounts of this turquoise out of the mine in their lunch pails, while other motivated individuals would make deals with the guards to sneak into the area and mine their own material. The tailing piles from the copper mining operation are massive and said to be filled with thousands of pounds of turquoise ripe for the picking. Today, anyone tempted to wander into the area will quickly find themselves being questioned by the local authorities.
The best material came from the area known as the Lavender Pit. Ranging from medium to dark blue the turquoise is accented by red, black or brown matrix, often called "smoky Bisbee". Green shades have also been found. The turquoise is quite hard, takes an outstanding polish and is one of the most expensive on the market today, if you can find it. As with any ultra-rare turquoise, material from other mines are occasionally misidentified as Bisbee by hopeful collectors or dubious/misinformed sellers.