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The Great American Turquoise Rush 1890-1910 Book


It started when traditional sources of the clear blue Persian turquoise dwindled. The efforts to control this new market began in New Mexico but would expand into other states. This is the true story of that time, largely forgotten or remembered only from incomplete or inaccurate oral tradition.


Philip grew up in the Deep South and from an early age was fascinated with rocks and how they could be transformed into useful objects. After graduating from college in Alabama he moved to the Southwest in 1971 and began working at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson where he began his life long love affair with turquoise. In 1974 he moved to the Zuni Mountains of West Central New Mexico and built a log cabin using only an axe, hammer and handsaw. He still lives in that cabin and has continued to develop the lapidary and jewelry making skills he began to develop in Tucson. With the Zuni Mountains serving as home base, he has lived at different times in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Crete, Greece. In the early 90’s he began to mine his own gemstones and began the exhaustive research that would culminate in over twenty banker boxes full of original research that formed the basis for The Great American Turquoise Rush. He continues to mine turquoise and variscite in New Mexico and Nevada and his work may be seen at his Southwest Gem Ebay and Etsy stores.

Mike completed a thirty-year career as a financial planner and investment advisor in 2011 and reawakened an interest in turquoise that had first started in the mid seventies during vacations to the southwest. He became a collector and began research on the history of turquoise. He kept hearing the name Philip Chambless and after meeting they decided to combine Philip’s vast knowledge and research with Mike’s book writing skills from his previous books, Asset Allocation and the Investment Management Process, and the Colors of Money. The result was The Great American Turquoise Rush: 1890-1910.

This book tells the story, little known or understood, of the early days of turquoise mining in the United States. Their research continues and a sequel is planned for the next period in the ongoing story of turquoise in America.


Philip Chambless, Author

Philip Chambless has lived in the mountains outside El Morro, NM since the 1970’s and is a full time turquoise prospector, lapidary, and jewelry designer. He has researched this period of the history of turquoise for more than twenty years.

Author Philip Chambless & Mike Ryan

The Authors

Mike Ryan, Author

Mike Ryan retired from a thirty-year career as a financial advisor, author, and teacher in 2011 and reawakened a passion for turquoise first begun in the 1970’s. He is the author of Asset Allocation and the Investment Management Process and The Colors of Money.

Book Title: The Great American Turquoise Rush 1890-1910

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