Ouray Silversmiths mines the heart of Colorado

Raw aquamarines from mines near Salida, Colorado. 

The Heart of Colorado is a unique jewellery collection created by Ouray Silversmiths of Montrose to celebrate the beauty of their home state.

Ouray Silversmiths started with the idea to source local material, a community-oriented networking they call it. They discovered Krivanek Jewelers, which is the owner of two aquamarine claims on Mount White and Mount Antero, and is bonded, secured and properly certified to dig for these precious Colorado state gemstones.

“The reason we decided to create this line was the opportunity to partner with a place in Colorado. To have gemstones we use in our jewelry coming from a mine in Colorado is unheard of in jewelry making,” said Cyle Durkee, the digital assets manager at Ouray Silversmiths. “Usually gemstones come from Africa or overseas, so it means so much, on so many different levels, that we can use local gemstones.”

Mt. Antero is the 10th highest peak in the state at 14,269 feet in elevation. It is located between the towns of Buena Vista and Salida and borders the west of the Arkansas River valley in the Collegiate Peaks range. It was first prospected in the late 1800's, as were most of the rest of the mountains in the state.

Men were first searching for riches in elusive gold and silver outcrops, but it wasn't gold or silver that was the real treasure here. Rather, it was aquamarine crystals, those beautiful sky blue to sea green colored variety of gem beryl. To make it more intriguing, all known gem deposits here occur above timberline, making it the highest known gem locality in the United States. The aquamarine occurs in pockets or bubbles in the granite rock, mostly in what is known to scientists as miarolitic cavities. It is frequently weathered out into the scree and talus.

Aquamarine was recognized as the official state gemstone of Colorado in 1971, and is also the birthstone for the month of March. The mountain peaks of Mount Antero and White Mountain in Colorado contain some of the finest quality gem aquamarine known. Colorado's geological symbols are red (rhodochrosite, the state mineral), white (yule marble, the state rock), and blue (aquamarine) according to numerous websites.

Ouray Silversmiths receives the raw minerals directly from the mine, which go to its gemstone cutter and straight into its jewelry — all in Colorado. This cuts out out any gem middleman so the company can source more true gems for clients. Ouray Silversmiths will sell raw crystal aquamarines, place them into its Heart of Colorado line, or create any custom piece that a client could desire. The goal is to keep resources local, including the gold and silver used in the silversmithing company’s jewelry lines, making them even more authentic Colorado.

Ouray Silversmiths uses aquamarines from Mt. White, as these are a perfect sky blue that fits in perfectly with their line of jewelry — it appears as a rising moon over the mountain range.

Along with the Colorado aquamarines the mountain range used as the background for the Heart of Colorado line is the San Juan Mountain range, just south of town. Some artistic license has been taken with the range, to make the jewelry spectacular, but it is still Colorado.

Because of the success of this line, in the past few weeks Ouray Silversmiths has been able to donate more than $1,300 to area nonprofits, and share the wealth of Colorado, right here at home.

“When you can create something beautiful that somebody can really appreciate because they moved here for these mountains, and that we can support other Colorado businesses while we create it, is fantastic,” Durkee said.

Although Ouray Silversmiths sells around the world, “our heart is always here in Colorado, and now with the Heart of Colorado line, our hearts will always stay here,” he added.

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