Chrysocolla Gemstone Information
About Chrysocolla - History and Introduction
Chrysocolla is a gemstone-quality hydrous copper silicate, often forming with copper salts, iron and manganese oxides. It is especially prized for its attractive colors and unique multicolored patterns. Chrysocolla belongs to a very small group of copper-bearing gems, which also includes malachite, azurite, larimar, Oregon sunstone, Paraiba tourmaline and turquoise. Chrysocolla is most famous for its alluring, vivid blue to green cyan color, which is owed to the presence of copper impurities. Although chrysocolla may be a 'lesser known' gemstone, it is still a very fascinating stone that is highly sought-after by many avid gem and mineral enthusiasts. The name 'chrysocolla' was derived from the Greek words 'chrysos' and 'kolla' which translate as 'gold' and 'glue'. It earned its name because it was often used as a gold soldering agent, but eventually, the term evolved into a generic reference to any green copper-bearing mineral.
Chrysocolla is known to form in oxidation zones of copper ore bodies and is a considered a minor ore for the mineral copper. Pure chrysocolla gemstones are rare. Chrysocolla often forms with other copper-bearing minerals, which results in gemstones with interesting and unique mixes of colors and mottled patterns. Some of the more common mineral mixtures include azurite (which chrysocolla often pseudomorphs with), malachite and turquoise. Chrysocolla may also form with clear druzy layers of glossy quartz, essentially forming a natural doublet. In many cases, quartz crystal may actually be intergrown with the stone and not just as druzy layers. These quartz-hybrid mixtures are harder and much more durable than pure chrysocolla, often rendering them suitable enough for jewelry use.
Identifying Chrysocolla Back to Top
Identifying chrysocolla by composition can be difficult since it lacks a definitive chemical composition. Its chemical formula can vary depending on included impurities. Essentially, any massive, globular, blue to green copper-bearing silicate which cannot be specifically identified as otherwise, can be identified as chrysocolla. Chrysocolla can often be distinguished by its hardness, unique color and interesting patterns. However, depending on its exact composition, its hardness can range significantly, but in most cases, distinguishing chrysocolla can typically be done through scratch testing. Chrysocolla is often confused with turquoise and azurite, owing to their shared visual similarities of color and luster. Chrysocolla is slightly softer than turquoise. Smithsonite is similar in appearance, but its color is slightly lighter and its hardness higher. Variscite is also very similar, but its color is usually much greener and it is typically much harder than chrysocolla.
Chrysocolla Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Chrysocolla can be found in copper deposits all around the world. The most notable Chrysocolla sources include Israel, the Congo (Zaire), Chile, England, Kolwezi, Katanga (Shaba), Mexico, Peru, Russia, and the USA (Arizona, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Michigan and Pennsylvania). Arizona is known to produce some of the finest chrysocolla available today. The Timna Copper Mines of ancient Israel were famous for mixed chrysocolla specimens. Western Australia is well-known for chrysocolla pseudomorphs of azurite.
Buying Chrysocolla and Determining Chrysocolla Gemstone Value Back to Top
Chrysocolla Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Chrysocolla: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Chrysocolla is one of several copper-bearing minerals and gemstones. Although there are no other closely related gemstones, there are many other copper-rich gems, including turquoise, malachite, azurite and Paraiba tourmaline. Many gems may also have a similar mottled appearance with regard to color and luster. Some gems that often cause confusion are larimar, turquoise, azurite, variscite and smithsonite. Pure chrysocolla is actually quite rare; most deposits are mixed with other minerals and compounds. In some cases, mixed-chrysocolla gems and specific regional specimens are traded under varietal names, but most suppliers will simply trade them as simply 'chrysocolla', since the trade names are unofficial.
Chrysocolla Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
In 315 B.C., chrysocolla was first used by a Greek philosopher and botanist known as Theophrastus. During early times, chrysocolla was used as a soldering agent and in ancient Egypt, it was widely known as the 'wise stone' as it was thought to be able to shield the mind during times of negotiation. Chrysocolla is also believed to be able to reduce violent actions and to increase sensitivity, which is why Cleopatra was known to have worn chrysocolla jewelry. Chrysocolla is known among Native Americans for its ability to strengthen resistance and promote feelings of calmness in place of emotional turmoil.
Traditionally, chrysocolla is a stone of peace, said to alleviate fear, guilt and nervous tension. It is thought to crystallize feelings of love, acceptance and tolerance. Chrysocolla is favored by many singers and musicians. Physically, chrysocolla is thought to help in alleviating cramps, throat infections, ulcers and the symptoms of arthritis. It is also thought to aid liver detoxification. Chrysocolla is a stone of Cancer and associated with the element of water. It is very cleansing and it is said to absorb negativity. It can help flush and heal heart blockages, and is beneficial to the heart chakra, although it can be used for all of the chakras.
Chrysocolla Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Pure chrysocolla is typically considered to be much too soft for most mainstream jewelry designs. However, when worn with care in appropriately designed jewelry, chrysocolla can make for some outstanding fashion jewelry. Chrysocolla that has intergrown with quartz or with a druzy layer is slightly more durable than other forms of chrysocolla, so when looking for gemstones, chrysocolla-quartz compositions can be better for jewelry than other chrysocolla.
Chrysocolla cabochons and beads are quite popular for jewelry use, especially in pendants. Chrysocolla is not recommended for everyday rings, but with a clear quartz layer, it may be durable enough to wear with care. If wearing chrysocolla as jewelry, its use should be limited to protective designs, such as earring, pins, brooches, necklaces, pendants, shirt-studs or tie-tacks. Chrysocolla exudes opulence and looks especially stunning when inlaid in silver. Chrysocolla jewelry designs often use silver and copper rather than gold or platinum settings. These metals are not only more affordable, but they also tend to bring out the natural colors of the stones better.
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.
Chrysocolla Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Chrysocolla is a rather soft gemstone, so extra care should always be taken to retain its attractive polish. It can be easily scratched by other gems and jewelry, so it should be worn and cleaned separately. When cleaning chrysocolla gemstones, simply use a soft cloth or brush and plain soapy water. Do not use any ultrasonic cleaners or steamers and avoid the use of any harsh household chemicals, such as bleach or sulfuric acid. To prevent permanent damage to the color of your stones, avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and excessive heat.
Chrysocolla gemstones and jewelry should always be stored separately from other gems and jewelry. When storing your chrysocolla, it is best to wrap your stones individually using a soft cloth, or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box for added protection. Always be sure to remove any jewelry before playing sports, exercising or performing any vigorous household chores.
- First Published: November-29-2013
- Last Updated: October-12-2017
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