Azurite is one of the rare varieties of copper ore that are suitable for gemstone use (the other being Malachite). Azurite is a striking blue color and is quite popular, particularly among mineral and gem enthusiasts. It is quite common for Azurite and Malachite to be found together, and gemstones that are a mix of the two materials can also be found. Historically, this form of copper ore was also sometimes ground into powder and used to create blue paints.
Etymology & Sources
Azurite obviously shares a similar name to the blue color Azure – in fact, both words are derived from the Persian ‘lazhward’, which was the name of the area known for Lapis Lazuli, which shares a similar intense blue color to the mineral. Interesting, the term Lapis Lazuli is also partially derived from ’lazhward’. Interestingly, despite deriving its name from a location in Persia, the mineral is not actually found near that area. The most significant source of Azurite is the USA, and other sources include Namibia, Mexico, Morocco, Australia, France, and Congo.
Azurite is a striking blue color, which unsurprisingly can be most accurately described as azure-blue. Sometimes specimens are found that are a mix of Malachite and Azurite, and these can tend towards being blue-green. Azurite has a vitreous luster, and is most Azurite is Opaque, although there are rare occasions where it can be found in translucent or even transparent form. Generally the more vivid the blue color of the stone, the more valuable it will be.
Azurite is a pretty soft mineral, with only a 3.5-4.0 Mohs scale value. It has specific gravity of between 3.7 and 3.9, and a refractive index score of 1.72-1.85.
Broadly speaking, Azurite is too soft and is not ideal for use in jewelry. Rings and other high wear and tear items should definitely be avoided. The mineral can be used in other types of jewelry, but buyers should make sure that the design is sufficiently protective of the stone to avoid damage. Azurite also loses color with prolonged exposure to heat or light, further making it impractical for jewelry use. Azurite in dust form is also somewhat toxic, and a mask should always be worn when polishing, cutting, or setting azurite. In the rare occasions that it is used for jewelry, Azurite is most often cut into cabochons, but given all the preceding information, it’s clear why Azurite is generally not a popular jewelry gemstone and is more of a collector or enthusiast gemstone.
Azurmalachite – Hybrid azurite and malachite, often a mixture of green and blue.
Bluebird – Rare hybrid of Azurite and cuprite, highly sought after by collectors.
Azurite is typically untreated – occasionally it is coated with wax to enhance the luster, but even this is not common.