Azurite Gemstone Information
About Azurite - History and Introduction
Azurite is a rare variety of gemstone quality copper ore. Azurite is one of two basic copper carbonate minerals (malachite is the other). Azurite is rarer than malachite and is considered to be more valuable. Azurite gets its name from the Persian word 'lazhward', which refers to its distinctive, vivid blue color. Azurite is a fairly soft stone and its use in jewelry is actually quite limited. In fact, azurite is more sought after by gem and mineral collectors, rather than jewelry designers. It is most often carved into interesting ornamental shapes and designs instead of being faceted for mainstream jewelry use.
Azurite's color closely resembles that of lapis lazuli (minus the speckles of gold pyrite). Azurite is frequently found mixed with malachite; hybrid malachite and azurite specimens are known in the trade as 'azure-malachite' or sometimes without the hyphen, as 'azurmalachite'. Other hybrid varieties exist as well, including a rare mix of azurite and cuprite known as 'bluebird' in the gem trade. In addition to lapis lazuli, azurite is also confused with sodalite, linarite and lazulite. However, through simple testing, each of these gems are easily distinguished from azurite.
One of the first major sources of azurite was discovered in Chessy, a small commune located in the eastern suburbs of France, close to Lyon. Owing to its Chessy origin, azurite earned its locality-based trade name, 'chessylite'. In addition to gem use, azurite is also an industrial gem, much like garnet. In fact, since the Middle Ages, azurite has been used for the production of pigments and textile color dye.
Identifying Azurite Back to Top
Azurite can be easily identified by its unique azure blue color. It is fairly soft and usually a simple scratch test can usually distinguish azurite from other gemstones. It is often found with malachite, but since malachite is obviously green in color, there is not much difficulty in separating the two. Azurite resembles lapis lazuli in color, but it lacks the gold pyrite inclusions that lapis lazuli has. Other gems that can cause confusion are sodalite, lazulite, dumortiertite and hauynite, but azurite's color is very unique and through close inspection, all similar gems can be distinguished with basic tests.
Azurite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Azurite is found in many locations in the world. The most important origins include Utah, Arizona and New Mexico (USA). Other sources include Mexico, Namibia, Congo, Morocco, France and Australia.
Buying Azurite and Determining Azurite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Azurite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details on gemology-related terms.
Azurite: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Azurite does not have any closely related gems in regard to composition (other than malachite). It does bear color and resemblance to a few different gems; lapis lazuli, sodalite and lazulite. Azurite often occurs intertwined or psuedomorphed into malachite. Malachite hybrids often exhibit green speckles blended in with azurite's blue aggregate crystals. These stones are known as either 'azure-malachite' or 'azurmalachite'. A mix of cuprite and azurite is known as 'bluebird' in the trade. This is quite rare and highly sought after.
Azurite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Azurite is referred to as the 'stone of heaven'. It is said to awaken psychic skills, awareness and abilities. Azurite is an excellent stone when used for meditation; it allows its wearer to enter a state of deep meditation fairly easily. Azurite can enhance creativity and also strengthen intuition. Azurite can also facilitate building confidence and spiritual cleansing.
Physically, azurite can help alleviate throat pain and other neck-related issues. The most common physical ailments that azurite is thought to possess healing properties for are sore throats, aching necks and shoulder muscles. It is also thought to ease thyroid issues and alleviate symptoms of asthma. Azurite is particularly associated with the third-eye chakra, but it is also believed to help align all seven chakras. Additionally, it can be used on the 5th (throat), 6th (third eye) and 7th (crown) chakras.
Azurite is the stone of the planet Venus and the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. Although azurite is not officially recognized as an official birthstone, it is still thought to possess strong astrological powers.
Azurite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Azurite is very rarely used in jewelry due to its low level of hardness. Jewelry use is restricted to protective designs, such as pendants, earrings, pins or brooches. Azurite is not recommended for use in a gemstone ring. Azurite has a tendency to weather over time and its color is known to fade with prolonged exposure to bright light and heat. Exposure to daylight will tend to reduce azurite's color intensity over time.
When setting azurite into jewelry, it is important not to heat the stone - this can cause permanent color damage. Mounting of azurite should only be done at room temperature. Azurite dust is toxic, so it should not be inhaled. When working, cutting, polishing or setting azurite, be very careful not to inhale any dust or particles; wearing a face-mask for protection is recommended.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Azurite Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Azurite is fairly soft, rating only 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Since it is soft, it needs more care than your average gemstone. Azurite is a stone known to 'age' over time, much like a human; it will lose its color, polish and shape as it ages. It is very prone to weathering and naturally due to its softness, it will slowly wear away if not properly taken care of.
Azurite is sensitive to heat, light and air. Prolonged exposure will cause color to fade. Avoid heating the stone when working with azurite as this will cause color fade. Azurite can be wiped using a soft cloth. You can use a mild soap if needed. Be sure to rinse the stone well to remove any soapy residue. Do not use hot water when rinsing. Since it is softer than most other gemstones, azurite is prone to scratches. Remove any azurite jewelry when cleaning, exercising or playing sports. Store azurite stones wrapped in a soft cloth or place them in a fabric-lined box away from other gemstones. Do not place azurite under direct sun for long periods of time. Wrap the stone and place it into your pocket if you plan to be in the sun for extended periods of time.
- First Published: August-08-2013
- Last Updated: May-16-2014
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