Earlier this month, the closed off castle in the middle of downtown Albuquerque became the new home to the Lowry’s family business. The Turquoise Museum, founded in 1993, relocated and expanded their collection since moving out of their long time Old Town location and into the former Gertrude Zachary Castle, built in 2008.
“Blending a German castle with turquoise was perfect,” executive director, Jacob Lowry said. “Because turquoise is international, because it has been the stone of royalty for years, all those different things built into the same building with the collection has showcased turquoise really well.”
Home to some of the rarest and most collectible turquoise, the family’s passion for the blue and green stones have resulted in an overwhelming collection of high-grade turquoise from across the world.
“I am fifth generation in the business, my great grandpa, J.C. Zachary Jr. was known as the king of turquoise and it is pieces from his collection that we display,” Lowry said.
Invited in by a 21,500-hand beaded turquoise and crystal chandelier, the castle displays several galleries filled with turquoise where people can view natural pieces of jewelry, learn the history and understand the science and different international uses that turquoise has.
“As soon as I walked into the museum I knew the experience would be amazing,” Alycia Perea, a visitor at the museum, said. “I probably spent way too long in there reading about everything.”
Visitors can also gather information about mining and grading turquoise as well as understand its mystical qualities and how it can be imitated.
“You can actually look at a piece of turquoise and know which mine it came from,” Lowry said. “When we shop for turquoise, 95 percent of what we see on the market is imitation and this room explains how to know what you’re buying.”
In addition to turquoise the building also displays several antique artifacts and furniture, 132 unique chandeliers and spiral staircase to enhance the experience. Visitors can walk through the museum and explore the history of not just the turquoise but also of the castle.
Also showcased is a Southwest gallery that displays over 400 pieces of turquoise jewelry. The state of New Mexico has the least amount of turquoise, with only 7 deposits compared to over 500 in Nevada.
“The reason people associate New Mexico with turquoise is marketing, it is where everybody knows about turquoise,” Lowry said.
The museum will also host six different tours, some will focus specifically on turquoise, art and the history, while others focus on the architecture of the castle and the grand chandeliers. The family owned business showcases their passion for the history that turquoise has brought to culture as well as to their family.
“As people come through you get to meet people from different parts of the world with different stories, that’s my favorite part of this business,” Lowry said.
Hayley Estrada is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port, she can be followed on Twitter @Est3Hayley.