By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Four Peaks Mining Company glistens in the morning light at OdySea in Scottdale. The light perfectly hits the mountain’s amethysts creating a faint rainbow in the February gemstone’s cases.
Owned by computer programmer Kurt Cavano, Four Peaks Mining Company is a sight within the entertainment center.
“The owner of the mine owned this claim for about 20 years,” general manager Susan Emberley says about Cavano.
“He’s been actively mining for 18 years. All of the amethyst is from our mine. He designs and manufactures this whole line of amethysts. We’re the only gemstone amethyst mine in the United States, some of the highest quality in the world.”
She can pinpoint a Four Peaks amethyst in a second. The stunning color shows through especially when it’s set in rose gold, Four Peaks’ amethysts have a deep red due to high magnesium and iron content that occurs naturally in the soil.
There are many amethyst mines in the world—namely Brazil, Uruguay and the United States—but they do not produce gemstones. Cavano designs the jewelry and has it manufactured in Indonesia or China.
“They’re all in big host rocks,” says Emberley, who dons amethyst-colored eyeshadow and other accessories. “The amethyst crystals form in big veins. You can’t just chip away and find a big clump of amethyst. You find veins.”
Located on the only private land in Four Peaks Wilderness, the actual mine hosts amethysts in linings of voids in the faults of 1.6 billion-year-old Mazatzal quartzite.
“The mine was discovered in the late-1800s by gold miners,” she says. “When they found out it wasn’t gold, but amethyst, they abandoned it and it sat unclaimed until it was claimed again by three people of the same family, three separate times.
“They did take amethyst out of there and they did make some jewelry—not like Kurt’s doing. There are older pieces from the Four Peaks Mine, but it would be hard to find.”
The Arizona Four Peaks amethyst mine requires a helicopter to transport supplies in and take mined material out.
“We have videos on the website of our mine tours,” she says. “(Cavano) is the man up there. Everything’s done by hand. They’re carrying it out in a wheelbarrow and bringing all the big stones out to the belly of the helicopter.
“They process them in Tucson in cement mixers to tumble all the rough rock off and get the gemstone out of the middle.”
Rings set in gold range from $500 to $9,000, depending on the size of the stone and the number of diamonds. White, yellow and rose gold rings are $400 to $9,000. Sterling silver rings are near the front of the store for $45 to $200.
Four Peaks Mining Company sells other minerals and stones from throughout the world, including Michigan copper and Kingman turquoise, married with a piece of amethyst. Cards outline the stones’ history and location.
“Rock collectors love all this,” she says.
That’s an understatement. The store sells rock tumblers, crystal-growing kits and minerals as well.
“Our kids’ section is amazing,” Emberley says about the area next to a faux mine that guests can tour with headlamps. “They can break open geodes from Morocco. When you break them open, they’re all white. We give (kids) little glasses and a miner’s tool so they can break them open.”
February is meaningful to Four Peaks Mining Company, for obvious reasons. But it celebrates every birthstone by giving guests a 10-percent discount on the gems’ corresponding month. Four Peaks Mining Company has a stackable ring series, rings, pendants and bracelets.
“Tourists come in and buy something that says Arizona,” she says. “But this is actually something from Arizona. Four Peaks is on the Arizona license plate. It’s historical and you’re taking a piece of the ground with you.”
Kurt Cavano will discuss and sell pieces from his Four Peaks Amethyst Mine at 2 p.m. Thursday, February 7, at Superstition Mountain Museum, 4087 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction. Admission is free. For more information, call 480.983.4888 or visit superstitionmountainmuseum.org.