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.”
“Now all this lapis belongs to me, but I don’t really feel like I own it. It’s more like I’m the caretaker of it,” Noel said. “There’s something special about this lapis. It really does have a certain feel, almost a spiritualization about it.”
Owner - Zacchariah Zypp
“…I don’t really feel like I own this lapis.
It’s more like I’m the caretaker of it…”
— Noel Adam
Crested Butte lapis ranges in color from dark blue-black to royal blue to light denim hue. Lapis lazuli actually prompted the term “royal blue,” since in ancient times, only kings, queens and emperors were allowed to own the rare, deep-blue lapis stones.
One of the first commercially traded gemstones in ancient Egypt, lapis was valued equally with gold. King Tut’s sarcophagus and made were made almost entirely of lapis and gold, and lapis lazuli (literally “heaven stone”) is poetically praised in the Bible’s Book of Job, Pliny the Elder’s history of the Roman Empire, and the records of Charlemagne and Edward I of England. Lapis was also ground into powder for use in medicine, cosmetics and painting (creating the color ultramarine). By healers and energy workers through the ages, it has been associated with stimulating creativity and opening the energy centers (chakras).
Comprised primarily of the mineral lazurite, which is formed under high temperature in metamorphic rocks, Crested Butte’s lapis was created by the folding and shifting of the earth and the intrusion of molten rock millions of years ago in the Cement Creek valley. Then the blue vein lay hidden until Carl Anderson ran into a bit of bad weather in 1939.