Azurite - Encyclopedia

    Class : Carbonates, nitrates, borates
    Subclass : Anhydrous carbonates
    Crystal system : Monoclinic
    Chemistry : Cu2(CO3)2(OH)2
    Rarity : Common

Azurite is a common secondary carbonate in the oxidation zone of copper deposits where it coexists with other secondary copper minerals such as malachite. Its name comes from "lazhward" Persian (blue) by allusion to its color, a beautiful night blue. It is a mineral known since Antiquity. The crystals are mostly well formed and large. They have various facies, often tabular or elongated, more rarely short prismatic or pseudorhombohedral. The faces are often slightly striated, the aggregates in rosettes of prismatic crystals are more anecdotal. Azurite is more rarely massive, in concretions or stalactites. It should be noted that malachite can commonly replace azurite crystals (pseudomorph). Azurite is a mineral much sought after by mineral collectors when it comes in beautiful crystals. It was also widely used in European art from the 15th to the 17th century as a pigment ; crushed, it was used to color ceramics and stained glass. It can be cut in cabochons for jewelery. Finally, it can constitute an interesting copper ore in the superficial area of some deposits.

Main photo : Azurite from Kerrouchene, Khénifra Province, Meknès-Tafilalet Region, Morocco

Azurite floater from Tsumeb, Namibia
Azurite rosette from Bou Beker, Morocco
Azurite from Kerrouchene, Khénifra Province, Morocco
Azurite crystals from Kerrouchene, Khénifra Province, Morocco

Azurite in the World

Mythical crystals come from Tsumeb (Namibia) and Touissit (Morocco) which produced respectively 25 cm high gloss prisms and deep blue decimetric prisms on matrix. Splendid crystals (up to 8 cm) have been discovered in the superficial area of American copper deposit of Mammoth St-Anthony, Bisbee, Arizona and St. George, Utah. Among the most amazing deposits are also Shilu (Guangdong, China) which produced spectacular rosettes of crystals up to 10 cm in diameter, Broken Hill (Australia) with 8 cm crystals and Calabona (Sardinia, Italy) for its bright crystals of 3 cm. Less spectacular, but no less original, note the azurite granite from Pakistan discovered and exploited in recent years for ornamentation and jewelry (photo right).

Azurite in France

Azurite is quite common on French territory, however the best known deposit is that of the blue mine of Chessy in the Rhône Department which delivered single crystals of more than 5 cm known under the name of chessylite, call today only sometimes maintained in France. It is also found in coating in the Cap Garonne copper mine (Var), and more anecdotally on the alpine deposits, Les Mas Dieu (Gard), etc ...

Azurite balls from Chessy, Rhône, France
Azurite cross twin crystals from Kerrouchene, Morocco
Azurite twinned crystal from Kerrouchene, Morocco
Azurite on rhynchonella fossil Kerrouchene, Morocco

Twinning and special forms

Azurite twins are very rare, the most "common" is the cross twin that found mainly on the Kerrouchene deposit in Morocco.

Malachite often pseudomorph some crystals. Azurite can also sometimes replace some fossils.

Fakes and scams

Some cabochon cut for jewelery may have been reconstituted.

Hardness : 3.5 to 4
Density : 3.7 to 3.8
Fracture : Conchoidal
Trace : Blue

TP : Opaque to transparent
IR : 1,730 to 1,838
Birefringence : 0,108
Optical character : Biaxial +
Pleochroism : Medium
Fluorescence : None

Solubility : Acid and ammonia

Magnetism : Very weak
Radioactivity : None


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