When Noel Adam holds up a polished cabochon of Lapis Lazuli from the once-famed Blue Wrinkle Mine near Crested Butte, he doesn’t just see a glowing deep-blue gemstone. He sees a mineralogical storybook – connecting geological drama, ancient human history, a pistol-packing mountain “madman” and now Noel himself.
Gem quality lapis lazuli has been found in only three places in the world: Chile, Afghanistan and North Italian Mountain near Crested Butte. The local lapis lazuli, labeled “among the best the world have ever seen,” occasionally stirred a ruckus in regional and even national media from the time it was discovered in 1939 until the Blue Wrinkle closed down in the late 1990s. The the raw chunks of lapis stone were relegated to a forgotten Tulsa, Oklahoma, storage room until Noel, who had long been intrigued by the stories, searched it down, bought it and hauld it back to Crested Butte – “where it belongs.”