Spend $100 or more and get a FREE Travel Journal ($17.95 value!) Simply add it to your cart and use coupon code GIFTJOURNAL at checkout.

0
Shopping Cart
No Record Found

Your Shopping Cart Is Empty

Voyij

Jun 04, 2019| Local Shopping

Discovered In An Old Copper Mine Is A Rare Alaskan Stone

Kennecott-Mine-North-End-of-Town.jpg
The ghost town of the Kennecott mines sits north of the McCarthy airport, in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve 120 miles northeast of Cordova, Alaska. These Kennecott mines were once the largest copper mines in the world. In 1916, at their peak, the mines were valued at $32.4 million. During their years of production, the mines produced over $200 million worth of copper ore. Recently, the Kennecott mines have been the talk of the town for a completely different reason – a rare mineral called covellite. This remarkable gem, indigenous from the last mining frontier, leaves spectators emotionally moved from the beauty and energy it possesses.

Gem-quality covellite is extremely rare, but one lucky owner, Rosemary Libert of Skagway, said she just happened to be "in the right place at the right time” and has created a line of covellite jewelry called Star of Alaska for other people to enjoy.
 

The history of how Rosemary got her hands on her collection of covellite is shocking.

The History of the Kennecott Mines

It is well known to native Alaskans that high-grade covellite can be found in the Kennecott mines. However, the mines are officially closed for scavenging since becoming a national landmark in 1986.

In 1902, Stephan Birch, a mining engineer, invested in the Kennecott area believing it to be one of the richest known concentrations of copper in the world. He teamed up with JP Morgan & Co. and the Guggenheim family (known as the Alaska Syndicate) to establish the booming mining town in the remote wilderness of the St. Elias mountain range, hiring Michael J. Heney from the White Pass & Yukon Railroad in Skagway to build the railroad to transport the ore out. The mining town consisted of 5 mines with over 200 workers that worked the mines alone. Another 300-500 people worked in town manning hospitals, general stores, schools, and even an ice skating rink. The town itself was self-sufficient because of the vast amount of money the copper mines produced. However, when profits began to decline during the Great Depression, and railroad repairs began to increase, the owners of the Kennecott mines decided to slowly shut down the mines one-by-one. On November 10, 1938 the very last copper shipment train rolled out of Kennecott leaving behind nothing but abandoned buildings.

What is Covellite?

Covellite is a mineral of indigo-blue color, sometimes found with glimmering streaks of gold pyrite or "fool’s gold”, found in enriched sulfide zones of copper deposits (i.e. copper mines). The gem is named after the geologist who originally found it in Mt. Vesuvius ash in Italy – Nicola Covelli. Gem quality covellite is extremely rare, and further, Alaska is not known to have large covellite deposits. In addition to its deep indigo color, the naturally occurring veining pattern within covellite compliments both silver and gold, making it a valuable gem for jewelry makers.

Some believe that the energy released from covellite encourages positive thoughts and behaviors. It has been said that covellite connects one to a higher self that helps transform your dreams into reality by pushing out negative thoughts within the mind. Some even believe that the stone heightens psychic abilities and some psychics use covellite as a tool to help with the expression of divine communication. Rosemary, who describes herself as being "on the fence about the supernatural,” says that there is something powerful about the stone. "I have customers who will hover their hands over the stone to feel it’s energy and I can tell they are moved by the power of the stone. It’s unbelievable.”

Why Is Alaskan Covellite Rare?

Alaskan covellite is among the highest-grade covellite known, increasingly rare and highly sought after by gem collectors. The production from the Kennecott mines is considered the finest quality covellite in the world because it was found in large, pure, massive pieces, which isn’t common for the mineral. Covellite has not been mined in Alaska since the closing of the Kennecott mines in 1938, making it increasingly difficult to source it.

A Hidden Treasure at an Estate Sale

Rosemary Libert first came to Alaska 35 years ago after deciding to see the world alphabetically. Starting with the A’s, she took a job in Skagway, Alaska with the National Park Service as an interpreter and backcountry ranger. It was here that she met her husband and raised their five children. Rosemary currently owns Lynch & Kennedy, a gallery that showcases Alaska’s finest art, and is constantly searching for raw materials that are indigenous to the Alaskan wilderness. She jumped at the chance to get her hands on a supply of covellite when she heard that a supply was for sale at an estate sale.

"I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” she explained when asked how she acquired her collection for her Star of Alaska line.

"I purchased 100 pounds from a partner at an estate sale. It’s special because there are large pieces and sourcing the material is difficult because it’s not mined anymore. I got really lucky.”

After holding on to the material for a while, Rosemary partnered with longtime Alaskan jeweler, Orocal, to create her newest collection, Star of Alaska.
 
 

Rosemary is a perfect example of a person affected by the positive powers of covellite. She dreamed of a jewelry line that was new, fresh, and that told a story about Alaska. Rosemary transformed her dream into a reality when she created the Star of Alaska jewelry line.

When asked about the vision behind it Rosemary explained, "I wanted a jewelry line that told a story. Right now I am working on a line that is based off of the Northwest Passage. My jewelry has to mean something outside of just being a piece of jewelry; of course it has to have a design element, but to me it has to have a story. I wanted a product that was more relevant for Alaska.”
 
 

Where You Can Find Star of Alaska Jewelry

The Star of Alaska covellite jewelry line was born from estate pieces mined at Kennecott and its raw beauty reflects its local lineage, fully indigenous from the last frontier. For those looking for a piece of jewelry that beautifully captures the wonders of the wide open Alaskan skies and expansive wilderness, the Star of Alaska is perfect: intense beauty, rare quality, and locally sourced.

Only a few galleries carry authentic Star of Alaska (click below to buy online):
 
(1) Lynch & Kennedy owned and operated by Rosemary Libert
(2) Princess boutiques onboard select Princess cruise ships
(3) Omni Jewelers owned and operated by Indresh Chawla
 
For further reading on the Kennecott Mines, check out this article by the NPS.
 

Read More: Local Shopping

Top 15 Souvenirs To Buy From Alaska

Top 15 Souvenirs To Buy From Alaska

Looking for the top gifts from Alaska? Here’s a uniquely Alaska souvenir shopping list.

Read More
Alaskan Ulu Knife: How To Use And Where To Buy

Alaskan Ulu Knife: How To Use And Where To Buy

The Alaskan ulu knife is more than just a knife, it’s a way of life. Here’s our guide to buying and using one.

Read More
Trish Pearson Sells Terrific Fish From Nice People

Trish Pearson Sells Terrific Fish From Nice People

Trish Pearson, owner of local Ketchikan company Fish Fro Trish, has a great eye for good fish, and she is highly selective, indeed “picky,” about the fish she chooses to sell.

Read More
Ketchikan's Rain Barrel Gift Shop Is A True Family Affair - And Your Family

Ketchikan's Rain Barrel Gift Shop Is A True Family Affair - And Your Family

Ketchikan’s Rain Barrel gift shop is more than a warm and welcoming place to pick up handcrafted art, native artifacts, Alaskan carvings, native art, apparel and dozens of other items that make a trip to the store memorable.

Read More
Grant Conner Turns Gold Into Water For Those In Arid Parts Of The World

Grant Conner Turns Gold Into Water For Those In Arid Parts Of The World

Rather than trying to turn everything into gold, Conner wants to turn gold into water for people in need around the world. Grant, a fourth-generation jeweler knows the miners personally and the jewelry manufacturing process, and he sees room for impr...

Read More
Brett Wilcox Brings Sitka To The World With His Design For 57 Peaks Leggings

Brett Wilcox Brings Sitka To The World With His Design For 57 Peaks Leggings

“We sell an elite product for people who want to have the best, that’s what we sell,” Wilcox said. “I’ve compared reviews from our store to other stores and we beat the major brands. When women come into the store and sa...

Read More
Jill Scheidt's Story Is A Quilt of Alaska

Jill Scheidt's Story Is A Quilt of Alaska

There is no high romance behind the founding of Abby’s Reflection Apparel and Quiltworks in Sitka, no dramatic dreams of massive success in the quilting and apparel business. I said to a friend of mine, ‘let’s sell some clothes,&rsq...

Read More
Harbor Tea and Spice Offers a Cozy, Spicy, Tea-Infused Experience

Harbor Tea and Spice Offers a Cozy, Spicy, Tea-Infused Experience

Harbor Tea and Spice where they believe the ritual of drinking tea is almost as magical as enjoying the Juneau scenery.

Read More
Denny Wong Finds Inspiration For His Unique Jewelry Wherever He Looks

Denny Wong Finds Inspiration For His Unique Jewelry Wherever He Looks

Denny Wong is an internationally recognized jewelry designer. His philosophy of jewelry creation is reflected in his tagline: “Inspired by Nature. Perfected by Craftsmanship.”

Read More
Mining For Gold Is A Rush For Ryan Martens

Mining For Gold Is A Rush For Ryan Martens

Martens is a gold miner who lives in a camp roughly 120 kilometers south of Dawson, and he is spending his fifth summer looking for the next strike.

Read More
Chasing Woolly Mammoths

Chasing Woolly Mammoths

Bruce Schindler describes his business as “chasing mammoths.”

Read More
Gold Quartz: A Rare Form Of Gold

Gold Quartz: A Rare Form Of Gold

Orocal Natural Gold Company specializes in gold found in its genuine form. Since 1965 Orocal has been a leading source of authentic, high-quality gold nugget and gold-bearing quartz jewelry.

Read More
Ketchikan's General Store Is Alaska's Oldest Business: Tongass Trading Co.

Ketchikan's General Store Is Alaska's Oldest Business: Tongass Trading Co.

When you shop with Tongass Trading Company, you’re truly shopping a piece of Alaska’s history.

Read More
Life Is A Quilt For Jan Nardone

Life Is A Quilt For Jan Nardone

Jan Nardone has a passion for quilting. But she’s not alone.

Read More
Ivory Jacks Owner Kurt Tripp, Native Art and Twice Eaten Clams

Ivory Jacks Owner Kurt Tripp, Native Art and Twice Eaten Clams

"Alaska has some of the most beautiful Native designs and carvings you’ll find anywhere,” says Tripp, who has spent his life appreciating the art indigenous groups create using materials from their surroundings.

Read More
Dennis And Nancy Corrington: Alaskan Entrepreneurs Since 1966

Dennis And Nancy Corrington: Alaskan Entrepreneurs Since 1966

Dennis is one of the few people who can say they have traded an ice box to the Eskimos — in their native language.

Read More
A Fine Art Gallery In Skagway

A Fine Art Gallery In Skagway

Lynch & Kennedy Dry Goods is an Alaskan family-owned business that carries truly stunning pieces of Alaskan art.

Read More
Alaskan Gold Nuggets

Alaskan Gold Nuggets

Gold has played a big role in Alaska’s history. Even before Alaska was purchased from the Russians in 1867, there was evidence of gold.

Read More
Aurora Jewelers Offers Jewelry You Just Won’t Find Back Home

Aurora Jewelers Offers Jewelry You Just Won’t Find Back Home

Along the journey to Skagway Shawn Kishnani not only found his calling in the jewelry business, he met his wife, Sonia.

Read More
Engineer Turned Jewelry Purveyor

Engineer Turned Jewelry Purveyor

Indresh takes pride in catering to every type of customer at Omni Jewelers. He hand-selects every design and brand he sells, from affordable Pandora bracelets to high-end Tissot and Fendi watches.

Read More
Looking For Back Alley Rock Shop? Listen For The Blues Music

Looking For Back Alley Rock Shop? Listen For The Blues Music

Steve Jaklitsch isn’t even sure if his Back Alley Rock Shop has an address. But it’s definitely worth looking for, especially if you like jade, gold and other gems and minerals.

Read More
Alaska Eagle Arts Gallery Offers Special Art From The Northwest Coast

Alaska Eagle Arts Gallery Offers Special Art From The Northwest Coast

"I don’t think I’ve ever worked a day in my life,” Marvin said. "What I do with my art is my passion. Sharing it is where I get my motivation.”

Read More
Craig Carson’s Ketchikan Souvenir And Candy Company Sells Candy — And Ketchikan

Craig Carson’s Ketchikan Souvenir And Candy Company Sells Candy — And Ketchikan

At the heart of the town is Carson’s shop, Ketchikan Souvenir and Candy Company at 300 Front Street.

Read More
The World Comes To Ketchikan’s Great Alaskan Souvenir & Gifts

The World Comes To Ketchikan’s Great Alaskan Souvenir & Gifts

Great Alaskan Souvenir & Gifts is conveniently located near the cruise ship docks. Carson is proud of the quality and authenticity of the merchandise he sells.

Read More
Murat Ozuzun Of The Local Jeweler

Murat Ozuzun Of The Local Jeweler

Murat Ozuzun is in the business of lost and found. As Skagway’s local jeweler, he’s in the business of helping people find unique jewelry, and restore lost beauty to treasured pieces.

Read More
Tripp’s Mt. Juneau Trading Post Offers Art With Soul

Tripp’s Mt. Juneau Trading Post Offers Art With Soul

For Jack Tripp, an object is more than just an inanimate object. It’s a memory. It’s a sentimental feeling. It’s a reminder of good things gone by.

Read More
Alaska Northern Lights Gift Shop Offers All The Comforts Of Ketchikan — And Home

Alaska Northern Lights Gift Shop Offers All The Comforts Of Ketchikan — And Home

Every shop owner describes their establishment as unique. But few can say they are as homey as Alaska Northern Lights gift shop on Ketchikan’s Creek Street in the former red light district.

Read More
3 Generations Of Women Own This Delicious Sandwich Shop

3 Generations Of Women Own This Delicious Sandwich Shop

Polar Treats is a three generation female-run year-round deli and café in Ketchikan.

Read More
At Starboard Frames & Gifts, The Framing Shows Off The Art

At Starboard Frames & Gifts, The Framing Shows Off The Art

Anna Shaffer appreciates the artists in the Ketchikan art scene.

Read More