Historic Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee, Arizona is a wonderful location to visit if you are ever in the area. Just a short drive from Tombstone, Bisbee is a town with architecture unique to the area and is famous for the many stairs that lead to several of the buildings.
If your ever in the area for the Tucson Gem Show or visiting Tombstone it would definitely be worth visiting Bisbee.
Although there are a couple of rock shops in Bisbee, you may be better off looking for rocks and gems in the shops in Tucson due to the higher tourist prices and products. I have however found a few treasures there.
The main attraction is the art, history, and architecture in the area.
Visitors to the old part of Bisbee, Arizona will find wonderful unique shops where they can buy art directly from the artists.
As you visit those shops and artists you will have an opportunity to see architecture unique to Bisbee which is quite different from the Southern Arizona / Southern California architecture stucco architecture which is commonly found in other cities and towns in Arizona.
Mines in Bisbee, Arizona
If you ever get the chance to drive through historic Bisbee, Arizona it's almost impossible to miss the huge Lavendar Pit Mine that runs just to the side of highway 80.
Numerous types of copper minerals have been collected from the Lavender Pit and the nearby Copper Queen Mine as well as several small mines in and around Bisbee, Arizona.
Bisbee Copper Minerals
Some of the best copper mineral specimens available come from Bisbee, Arizona. A few of the most popular copper minerals from Bisbee are listed below:
Bisbee Blue Turquoise
By far the most well-known mineral that comes from Bisbee is known as Bisbee Blue Turquoise.
The highest grade of Bisbee Blue turquoise has a dark turquoise blue color with a brownish-red spiderweb matrix.
These high-quality specimens are quite rare and difficult to come by. Turquoise from Bisbee, Arizona can also be lighter in color or even green.
The majority of the Bisbee Blue Turquoise known today came from the Lavendar Pit Mine.
The main supplier of Bisbee Blue Turquoise jewelry today is Durango Silver Company located in Durango, Colorado.
Malachite is a very popular gemstone that has dark and light banding colors of green. It takes a very nice polish and looks great in jewelry.
Much of the old stock Malachite that came from Bisbee, Arizona has chatoyant qualities. Chatoyancy is an effect that is most commonly associated with Tiger Eye.
This chatoyancy effect that is found in Bisbee Malachite is similar to Tiger Eye however it is in that wonderful Malachite green!
One of the most sought after azurites of United States collectors is Bisbee Azurite. This deep blue copper mineral is often found with Malachite.
If you ever get to visit the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee, Arizona you will still be able to see Azurite and Malachite in the walls of the mine if you look closely.
This wonderful blue-green mineral has got to be one of my favorites.
Often mistaken for Turquoise, this mineral has a wonderful color that varies from dark blue-green to sky blue to light green-blue.
It is quite delicate in its pure form however when it stains chalcedony (agate) it is quite hard and very highly sought after by collectors.
Learn more about this fabulous mineral here.
Aurichalcite is a carbonate mineral composed of copper and zinc. It is usually a pale blue-green color. It is delicate and usually exhibits feather-like formations due to the tiny needles it is composed of.
Most specimens are very delicate and fragile so care should be exercised when handling the mineral. Washing an Aurichalcite specimen in water can damage it.
Cuprite is a reddish mineral that is often found in crystal form in Bisbee, Arizona. It is commonly found with other minerals such as Malachite or Chrysocolla.
Cabochons made from material made from a combination of Cuprite and other copper minerals can be quite beautiful.
Copper is one of the few metallic elements that occur in its native form.
Specimens of Native Copper can be quite spectacular and are prized by collectors.
First discovered in the late 1940s, Campbellite is named after the Campbell shaft in Bisbee, Arizona. Campbellite is actually a mixture of several minerals that are found in Bisbee. The minerals may include Calcite, Turquoise, Quartz, Cuprite, Copper, Azurite, Malachite, Calcite, Manganese, Tennorite, Chrysocolla, and other minerals.
This unique mixture of copper-bearing and other minerals is often used to create fabulous looking cabochons for use in jewelry.
One of the interesting things about Campbellite is that it fluoresces under black light. Very little of this unique material ever made it out of the mine. Most Campbellite was "lunch boxed" out by working in the mine.
The Mine is now closed and there are no other known deposits of this wonderful and unique material.
In recent years, Campbellite beads and cabochons were still available to purchase in some of the small gift shops in Tombstone, Arizona.
This rare, light blue-green copper and aluminum mineral is quite soft and delicate. Due to its delicate nature, specimens of this mineral should be handled sparingly and carefully.
Bornite is often called peacock ore due to iridescent shades of blue to purple that forms on the surface of the mineral as it oxidizes.
This colorful mineral is a copper sulfide mineral is an important copper mineral within the mining industry due to its high copper yield with copper contributing to about 63 percent of its mass.
Shattuckite was first discovered in 1915 in Bisbee, Arizona. It is named after the Shattuck Mine from which it was discovered.
Shattuckite is similar in appearance to Chrysocolla or Azurite and is often found alongside several copper minerals.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Marty Andersen
Holly Hunt on June 13, 2016:
My parents married there in 1947. My bachelor uncles lived and worked in the Copper Queen mine for most of their lives. I visited Bisbee in the old days in the late 1960s, when they were exploding daily in the Lavender pit. It was a dull little town on the edge of nowhere, so far off the main drags, but it had a colorful past. I am happy that it has been rediscovered by mystics and gem fans. The restoration of the Copper Queen Hotel is fantastic, and my parents' memories of Bisbee, our family's memories, took place here. My mother taught junior high English at Horace Mann in Bisbee and bought some great little hunks of malachite from her students. The most impressive masses of Bisbee copper minerals I saw at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.
Joyfulcrown on September 23, 2015:
I would love to visit Bisbee, Arizona one day. The gemstones and minerals all so beautiful.