Everything You Need to Know About Azurite Gemstone and Jewelry
Although azurite is not a mainstream gemstone for use in jewelry, it has been a favorite of gemstone collectors for a long time. For those lucky enough to own azurite jewelry, you’ll know that this is a stone unlike others. Its vivid blue hues are quite distinct and easy to tell apart from other gemstones.
Because azurite jewelry is rare, finding the perfect piece can be difficult and information can be limited.
What is Azurite?
Azurite gets its name from its azure-blue color, which is distinct and easy to recognize. Initially, this gemstone was known as chessylite after the Chessy region in France where it originated. It is still sometimes called that, although azurite is the common trade name.
Azurite is a copper carbonate mineral and occurs when water containing carbon dioxide reacts with copper ore, which dissolves in little amounts. This copper laden waters may eventually evaporate and form into azurite, depending on conditions of the environment. Malachite, a beautiful green gemstone, forms in a similar way to azurite, which is why the two minerals are often found together and forms into the composite known as azurmalachite.
Pure azurite is very rare and is mainly sought after by mineral collectors. Azurite is found in a number of locations around the world, with noteworthy deposits in France, Germany, parts of the USA, Australia, Mexico and England.
Azurite is more than just a lapidary material. It has been used since ancient times as a pigment, as copper ore and to dye textiles.
Evaluating Azurite Color
Azurite is known for its azure-blue color, reminiscent of dark blue skies. It ranges in hue from blue to intense dark blue and can be similar in appearance to lapis lazuli.
While azurite on its own displays an attractive color, when paired with malachite, azurite’s blue and malachite’s green create gemstones that exhibit intriguing and stunning swirls and patterns.
Azurite Gemstone Clarity
Azurite is commonly opaque although translucent varieties can sometimes be found. The gemstone has a dull luster but when polished it can be vitreous. Sometimes, azurite may be waxed to improve its appearance and enhance its luster.
Choosing Azurite Cut
Azurite is commonly cut en cabochon, which brings out the stone’s luster. However, you will also find many jewelers working with free form azurite, molding the jewelry setting to suit the natural shape of the stone. This creates for exclusive, one-off pieces that celebrate the gemstone’s natural look.
Azurite is hardly ever faceted. Its soft nature does not lend itself well to faceting and cabochon or tumbled stones are preferred.
Synthetic, Treated and Imitation Azurite
While azurite is not typically treated to enhance its color, much of the azurite you find on the market has been treated with fillers to stabilize the stone. You’ll often find very cheap types of azurite but these are often composed of crushed azurite mixed with some binder and other materials. If the azurite you’re looking at is incredibly cheap, it is probably this crushed azurite variety.
Another common treatment is for wax to be applied on azurite’s surface to enhance its luster. If in doubt, ask the retailer if any treatments have been done on the gemstone. They should disclose this information to you.
Azurite is not a mainstream gemstone for use in jewelry. In fact, azurite on its own is rarely used in jewelry, although the mineral combined with malachite is more commonly found. Part of this is due to azurite’s softness, which makes it not ideal in the use of certain types of jewelry, especially in rings and bracelets.
Because of azurite’s striking look, it makes for striking jewelry. Azurite jewelry adds a pop of color to any outfit. It is especially beautiful in statement jewelry. Azurite jewelry pairs well with all main metal colors, including yellow, rose and white gold.
Azurite jewelry is not very expensive and can be found in a range of prices to suit most budgets. However, because it is not a common gemstone for jewelry, it can be difficult to find azurite jewelry.
Azurite Durability and Care
Azurite is a soft gemstone, ranking at 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale similar to gemstones like pearls and opals. It is very soft, has a brittle tenacity and a tendency to break if struck with force.
Azurite jewelry can be difficult to clean and must be handled with care. Always use a mild liquid soap and warm water when cleaning azurite jewelry, and if there is grime or dirt that needs to be brushed out, gently do so with a soft brush or cloth. Avoid harsh or abrasive cleaners as these can scratch and damage azurite. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners on azurite jewelry as the intense vibrations can cause fractures.
Always take azurite jewelry off when engaging in activities such as swimming, playing sports, gardening, cleaning or washing dishes as the chances of damage through impact and chemicals is high. Make sure that azurite doesn’t come into contact with household detergents and chemicals, including hairspray, cosmetics or perfumes.
Azurite is known to fade when exposed to heat and light, so keep it away from light sources, especially direct sunlight. If heated, azurite can change color from blue to green or even turn black.
Finally, when storing azurite jewelry, keep in a separate fabric lined jewelry box or place in a fabric pouch, away from other metals and gemstones. This will keep it from being scratched by harder objects, including dust.
Azurite Meaning and Symbolism
Azurite has been used for thousands of years, and like all old gemstones, it has acquired various metaphysical powers and meanings over the years. It is believed to hold healing properties, and is said to be particularly effective in treating issues related to joints, the spine, throat and arthritis.
On an emotional level, azurite is believed to help in healing mental stress and trauma, healing the past and allowing you to live completely in the present. It relieves sadness and sorrow, fears and worries as well as nervousness.
Azurite is also believed to be an ideal stone for use when meditating as it provides peace and mental clarity. With relation to the chakras, azurite is believed to open the third eye chakra.
While not a birthstone as such, azurite is thought to be a powerful astrological stone.