Since about 1874, the area near Cripple Creek, CO has been mineral-rich, with a late but productive entry into the gold rush. More than $400 million dollars in gold was produced there by 1930, and the many mines of Cripple Creek employed thousands of workers, with production continuing until 1941, when the area closed for economic reasons due to WWII.
Lying near Pike’s Peak, the Cripple Creek region of Colorado has been home to relatively recent volcanic activity, and it is dotted with small gold mines, including the North Star Mine – one of the larger openings on Sultan Mountain, which is situated near 9,500 feet in elevation. One of the more stunning by-products of gold mining in the area is Cripple Creek turquoise, though many of the area’s mines also produced silver, copper, lead, zinc and tungsten.
In 2017, Clint Cross, a native of the Missisquoi band of the Abenaki Nation, purchased his own mine in Cripple Creek and began mining his own turquoise after more than 18 years of assisting other area miners to market their stones.
Clint’s latest discovery has been named North Star Turquoise, and this hard, natural, untreated turquoise ranges from pale blue to greenish and is 100% natural. Cross credits the area’s volcanic past with one of the more desirable aspects of his stone, “This probably helped the hardness of the turquoise, and the heat might have helped mix the silica into the stone.“
In addition to rough material and finished cut stones, Clint is a skilled silversmith and with his wife and son, runs the family’s online store which offers a wide variety of finished jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, cuffs, rings and accessories including hand made knives.
Clint says, “Turquoise is the first stone to have value among Indigenous people, “ and he takes pride in his heritage and continues to “make jewelry and trade” the stone at regional and national gem and mineral shows, including the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, and at JOGS International Exhibits Show every winter in Tucson, AZ.
Since it’s discovery, North Star has been sent to the Stone Group Labs and has been certified as a 100% natural, unstabilized, unbacked and untreated turquoise.
“Turquoise is a healing stone, a luck stone, a giving stone, the sky stone and the December stone,“ he says. Because Cross follows tradition, he believes “in the spirituality of turquoise,” and he believes that “if a stone has been treated in any way it will lose its beneficial effect.”
Cross continues, “Cripple Creek turquoise is a good quality in hardness and needs no treatments. We’ve done scratch tests and quartz did not scratch it, so I am going to say that this turquoise is a little harder than a quartz crystal.”
In addition to the spiritual properties of Turquoise, the highly desirable qualities of good color, superior hardness and no need for treatment are a delight to Cross and his jewelry-making and collecting customers. His pride in his North Star turquoise is apparent in his enthusiasm about the stone, and also in alignment with his personal value system, “Because, how can a stone give off any energy when it is coated with an epoxy, or has been altered in any way?”
Cross adds, “This turquoise has been collected for many years by Indigenous people, so out of respect and as a thank you, once our family no longer mines out of this turquoise mine, we don’t plan on putting the mine on the market, but we will be planning on gifting the land back to the natives.”