Azurite Facts

Azurite Facts
Azurite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral that is best known for its distinct deep blue to violet-blue color. The blue color is known as "azure" and is named from the deep blue evening skies often seen above deserts and wintery landscapes. Although Azurite is not a common or very abundant mineral, it is extremely beautiful and attracts a great deal of attention when it is discovered. For thousands of years Azurite has been used as an ornamental stone, as gemstones, and as a copper ore. It is still being used today for all of these purposes. Azurite is a secondary mineral that most often forms when waters that are heavy with carbon-dioxide descend into the Earth and then react with the subsurface copper ore. This copper ore is then transferred to a new environment by waters and when the right environmental conditions are found, the mineral azurite is formed. As the conditions exist for long periods of time, azurite is accumulated and then discovered and used for its beauty.
Interesting Azurite Facts:
Azurite precipitation occurs in porous spaces, breaks and the cavities of subsurface rocks. If left uninterrupted in this condition, well-formed crystals are discovered.
The most diagnostic property of Azurite is its deep blue color.
Azurite is unusually soft with a Mohs Hardness of only 3.5.
It contains copper which is what gives it the rich blue color.
Azurite can produce an interesting light blue streak on unglazed porcelain.
Although Azurite in not a very abundant mineral and is seldom found in large deposits, it is used in many different ways.
Geologists know that azurite is found in rocks above deposits of copper ore. This information allows them to use azurite as an indicator mineral as they seek out subsurface copper deposits. Once a copper deposit is found the azurite that is found there will be distracted and used if it is a high grade and easy enough to mine.
The ancient Egyptians mined it on the Sinai Peninsula and melted it down to produce copper.
Azurite is easy to cut and shape because it is generally soft. This makes processing ornaments, beads, and cabochons easy work.
Although it accepts a bright lustrous polish, it has a limited use in jewelry. The biggest concern is the Mohs Hardness of just 3.5. This softness if used in jewelry can cause damage and abrasion especially in rings, bracelets or necklaces.
Azurite also weathers easily which results in a lightening in color and a greening effect to the dark blue color. Because of this, Azurite jewelry is best stored in darkness and away from heat. This might be in a jewelry box or a drawer.
Azurite jewelry is also difficult to clean. It needs a gentle cleaning with a sift rag. Any abrasive will possibly damage the stone.
Azurite is very sensitive to heat. Heating will cause the stone to become green or black.
Azurite was ground up and used as a pigment in blue paint in ancient Egypt. That process is more common today. Azurite used as blue pigment is mined in France today.
What remains consistent is the popularity Azurite has with mineral collectors. The rich blue color of the crystals and the interesting structures continue to be sought out. Well-formed specimens can easily sell for hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars depending on size.

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