The Morenci Turquoise mine is one of Arizona’s most famous and collectible turquoise mines. Located in Greenlee County in Southeastern Arizona, turquoise was first discovered by a copper mining operation started in 1864. The area wasn’t actively mined for turquoise until much later. In 1956, the turquoise rights were acquired by William “Lucky” Brown. From 1956 to 1984, Lucky Brown and his sons mined some of the world’s highest quality turquoise at this site. In 1984 all turquoise mining operations ceased in the Morenci area. All the Morenci turquoise available on the market today was mined prior to 1984.
Both green and blue turquoise was present in the Morenci turquoise deposit. High grade Morenci turquoise is characterized by a deep blue color, caused by the copper content in the ground. One of the signature looks of Morenci turquoise is a beautiful iron pyrite (fools gold) matrix. Metal inclusions in high grade turquoise are unusual, and many collectors seek turquoise with a pyrite matrix. As with most turquoise mines, the high grade material was always scare. Less than 10% of the turquoise mined at the Morenci mine was considered high grade. Today, high grade Morenci turquoise with deep blues and iron pirate is highly valued and extremely difficult to acquire.