Thursday, May 31, 2012

Endangered Species - Guest Post by Lee Koopman of Strega Jewellry

Every April I look forward to the gem and mineral show in Troy, Ohio.  I love it because there are tables full of rock, minerals, fossils and BEADS!  The other reason is because my old friend, Shellie is a vendor at the show and it’s the only time in a year that I see her.  Shellie has been in the jewelry business for about 300 years or more and knows all about kinds of rocks. She’s the owner of Sheldon Studio, in  New York.

Shellie is also a fellow New Yorker.   I’m not sure if you know this, but certain New Yorkers are born with a bag of bull that they carry around with them.  I’m not saying we lie……never that………but we sure do know a lot of stories and we know how to embellish them.   So, when two New Yorkers such as Shellie and I get together there is a lot of arm and hand flapping, lots of talking and plenty of embellishment.   It’s a beautiful thing.

I found some cool beads on her table, some Dragon’s Vein, which I’d never seen before and some gorgeous rain forest jasper!  Then I spied two strands only of this odd brown and white faceted bead.  What the heck is this I ask? and out comes Shellie’s bag of stories.   She closed her shop and was clearing out odd stuff when she found a few strands of this White Buffalo turquoise.  I never heard of it, I tell her and she says it is very rare, you can hardly find it any more and I should only use one bead to a piece and charge no less than ten bucks a bead.   When this stuff is gone, she says, there is no more. A little more embellishment and


I  bought a strand and added it to my pile.

Of course, when I got home, I had to look White Buffalo turquoise up on the ‘net, not that I didn’t trust Shellie and her embellishments, but….I had to see for myself.  Was this an endangered species of rock or not?

I could only find about 4 articles and they all seemed to be copies of one article published in the Rockhound Gazette in 2000.  I’m guessing that if I never heard of this rock, there are a lot of other people who might be interested in learning about it.   I did find one other article on the web that explains how the owner of the mine had an exclusive agreement to sell his stones to only one person and how secretive the whole operation is.

The only place this stone is found is on the Shoshone reservation at Dry Creek mine near Battle Mountain in Nevada.  That’s one of the reasons it is so rare.  In the whole world, this is the only vein that has been found and it wasn’t discovered until 1993.  Jewelers didn’t start using it until 1996 after it was tested and proven to be true turquoise. This mine is now closed.  White Buffalo Turquoise is now an endangered species!

It takes a certain set of rare circumstances for turquoise to be formed. (I might have to do a blog about that).   Most turquoise is blue because of the mineral copper which is present during its formation. This is the case for most Arizona turquoise.  Some turquoise is a blue-green when iron is the predominant mineral present. This is the case in most Nevada turquoise.  A yellowish green color comes from zinc. I think Chinese turquoise is that yellowy green color.  White turquoise is formed only when no minerals are present and that is a very, very  rare circumstance indeed.  It is such a rare stone that the Native people took to calling it Sacred Buffalo turquoise.

I did find some pictures of jewelry made from this stone.  Most of the less expensive pieces have a very light blue coloring with the white and brown.  The “best” pieces are very expensive and have only the brown and white color.   I’m only putting up one picture and for fear of copyright infringement, there is a link to the Black Arrow Indian site where I found it. You’ll see lots of jewelry there made from this stone.
beautiful pendant of white buffalo stone

This gorgeous pendant cost over $1500!!!

I always look up the lore and myths surrounding a stone but there were no pages with stone lore about white turquoise.   It’s such a new stone, it hasn’t had time to build a mythos.   So, what would be the lore you would expect from such a rare stone with such a name? Let’s have some input folks!  Think about it first……

Well, most of us know about the legend of the White Buffalo Calf.

In brief, White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared to the Lakota people about 2000 years ago, the same time frame that Christ was teaching his lessons and Quetzacoatl teachings appeared in South America.   She taught the People sacred ceremonies and prophesied that when times were difficult a white buffalo calf would be born, a symbol to the people that a new age was beginning, an age of peace and understanding among all peoples.  This legend spread to other tribes. One version says that women will lead the changes.  An interesting side note here is that in 1994, a year after this stone was discovered, a white buffalo calf was born, not an albino, a true white calf.  This calf, named Miracle, became a symbol of hope for all who knew the legend and the legend spread far and wide across the globe with his birth.

Indeed, many years after his birth, people are touching each other globally through the internet.  More and more people are concerned with preserving the earth and trying for understanding of other cultures.   It’s a slow process, but there is hope….

I meditated about this and for me, I see this stone as a symbol of hope, like the white buffalo calf, a hope for a better future for my children and grandchildren and all the children of the world.  It’s a hope that there will be peace between them and understanding and love and that the world will focus less upon greed and gain and more upon learning and spiritual growth and that people will treat the earth with respect.  (Hey, a mythos and legend has to start somewhere!)
White Buffalo Stone Beads

So, what to do with these beads.  So far, I’ve only made two prototypes, a bracelet and a pendant.  I used copper because no copper was present when the stones were formed and copper will help nurture and support the stone. I could not resist the tiny blue turqouise beads because I love the color of sky and freedom and for faith.   I also used bone beads:  bone because it helps you get in touch with your higher self, and, of course, a feather, a universal symbol of peace.  The pendant should be hung on leather, I think, in keeping with the First American traditions. I’m playing with another bracelet idea.  Whatever I make, they will be limited edition pieces.  When I’m done, that’s it. I picture women wearing them, strong women who have deep earth roots and who will create a cone of power that will move aside negative walls of energy and create space for peace and hope and a world in balance and help restore the Sacred Hoop, One Planet, One People.
Peace Bracelet
Peace Pendant

One final note:  If you are looking for this stone, be sure you know your dealer and that your dealer know what they are selling.  (I’ve been to booths where the owner wasn’t sure about their stones)  There are stones out that that are howlite which are being sold as white buffalo stone.  Howlite is white but it has black matrix not chocolate color.

And may the peace and hope promised by White Buffalo Calf Woman come to us soon.
White Buffalo Calf Woman

 About the Author
I am a teacher.  I’ve learned a lot about stones and minerals and folklore:  the history behind the stones.  I teach special classes for underprivileged kids.  I teach everyone who asks about the ancient uses of rocks and stones. 

 To order Lee's beautiful handmade jewelry,  you can visit Strega Jewellry.


  1. I am going to a rock and mineral show in August, I can't wait ;o)

  2. That is wonderful, I also make jewelry and like learning of the stones properties!