Azurite (The Stone of Heaven) Meaning, Powers and History
Azurite is a blue copper mineral created by weathering in the upper oxidation zone of copper ore. The name azurite is derived from the stone’s azure blue color. Azurite is most typically used for ornamental objects. It was also widely used in the ancient world and throughout the middle ages as a pigment and dye as it was valued for its beautiful range of blue colors. It was most popular with painters in the middle ages. Today, azurite it is still used as a color base for some paints. However, its oxidation process is ongoing, and overtime its color may tend towards greenness when it is used in paints without fixatives. In ancient Egypt, azurite was associated with the studies and arts that improve mental disciplines. Ancient Egyptians used azurite for carving ornaments. Azurite was also one of the stones believed to have been used in the lost, mythical city of Atlantis.
Despite its attractive blue color, azurite is not used frequently in jewelry because of its low hardness, rating only a 3.5 to 4 on the hardness scale. However, one can still find simple, beautiful jewelry pieces made of azurite as it may be coated with wax or other clear substances to protect it. Azurite is formed either by water containing carbon dioxide reacting with copper bearing minerals, or by cupric salts reacting with limestone. It is occasionally found as prismatic crystals but is more often found in massive forms, and is often found intergrown with malachite, creating fabulous green and blue color effects. The mixture of azurite’s deep blue and malachite’s vivid green is a beautiful, colorful stone known as azurmalachite. Azurmalachite is very popular with jewelry enthusiasts and gem collectors.
As its name implies, azurite is found in an array of colors like the sky, from a very light blue to the more common deep and royal blue shades. Copper gives azurite its distinctive blue color. Azurite is found particularly in copper mining areas such as Australia, Chile, the former USSR, Africa, and China. Other deposits of azurite are found in Tsumeb, Namibia, Adelaide, Australia, and in the United States in Utah, New Jersey, and Arizona. Stones from Chessy near Lyons in France, are called Chessylite. Never clean azurite with any product containing ammonia. In seconds, the ammonia will remove all the polish, which will significantly reduce the stone’s beauty.
Azurite can be used to help the body remain strong. It has been known to promote health and healing in the upper respiratory area, and oddly enough, it supposedly helps to decrease unhealthy tissue growth such as cysts and tumors. Mentally, azurite is beneficial for one’s brain and mind, bringing clarity to situations, which might otherwise be confusing and difficult to understand. Azurite is also good for inspiration and it contains the virtue of spiritual balance. It helps those on spiritual paths find balance and helps them to pursue their deepest thoughts and dreams. Azurite is also good for mental growth and focus, and enhancing wisdom and maturity.
Azurite is a very popular mineral because of its unparalleled color, a deep blue called “azure”, hence its name. Azure is derived from the Arabic word for blue. The color is due to the presence of copper (a strong coloring agent), and the way the copper chemically combines with the carbonate groups (CO3) and hydroxyls (OH). Azurite has been used as a dye for paints and fabrics for eons. Unfortunately, at times its color is too deep and larger crystals can appear black. Small crystals and crusts show the lighter azure color well. Azurite is often associated with its colorful close cousin, malachite.
Green malachite is closely associated with azurite in many ways. Not only do they frequently occur together, they also have very similar formulae. Malachite can also replace azurite, making a pseudomorph, or an exact copy of an azurite crystal (only now instead of being blue, it would be green). Azurite paints made centuries ago have undergone the transformation much to the imagined horror of artists whose paintings of beautiful blue skies now have a most unusual green hue! Thankfully for mineralogists and collectors, this transformation is one of the most aesthetically pleasing in the mineral kingdom. Although the malachite may soften the sharpness of the azurite crystal, it generally leaves the specimen intact and a whole range of transformations from pure azurite to pure malachite can be obtained. There really is no comparison to any other mineral to mineral transformation in terms of overall beauty.
Azurite is used in jewelry and for dyes as mentioned above. It is also an unimportant ore of copper, although its significance has been more impressive in the past. It is still considered a minor ore of copper; mostly because it is found associated with other more valuable copper ores. Fine crystal clusters, nodular specimens, and interesting and beautiful combinations with malachite are important pieces in anyone’s mineral collection. The magnificent color of azurite is worth mentioning again as it truly is a one-of-a-kind in the mineral world. Azurite is one of those classic minerals.
Color is azure, deep blue or pale blue if found in small crystals or crusts.
Luster is vitreous to dull depending on habit.
Transparency: Transparent if in thin crystals, otherwise translucent to opaque.
Crystal System is monoclinic; 2/m.
Crystal Habits crystals are irregular blades with wedge shaped terminations. Also, aggregate crusts and radiating, botryoidal, nodular and earthy masses.
Cleavage is good in one direction and fair in another.
Fracture is conchoidal and brittle.
Hardness is 3.5-4.
Specific Gravity is 3.7+ (heavier than average).
Streak is blue.
Associated Minerals are numerous and include malachite limonite, calcite, cerussite, quartz, chalcopyrite, native copper, cuprite, chrysocolla, aurichalcite, shattuckite, liroconite, connellite and other oxidized copper minerals.
Notable Occurrences include numerous localities worldwide, but special localities produce some outstanding specimens especially from Lasal, Utah; Bisbee, Arizona and New Mexico, USA; Mexico; Tsumeb, Nambia; Shaba, Congo; Toussit, Morocco; Australia and in many locations in Europe.
Best Field Indicators are color, softness, crystal habits and associations.