Azurite, Malachite & Dioptase

March 06, 2021

Azurite and Malachite are considered BFF’s in the mineral world, both similar in their personalities, inseparable and often found hanging out with Dioptase on special occasions.

The reason Azurite and Malachite are so often found as aggregates together is because they are almost chemically identical. Azurite, a rich cobalt to midnight blue, Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 and Malachite, a deep forest green, Cu2(CO3)(OH)2. By breaking down the chemical composition we can conclude that Malachite is more oxidized than the Azurite due to increased water content and represents a later stage of oxidation to cause the change in color from blue to green. As Azurite holds less water within its composition it is therefore less susceptible to this color changing oxidation.

Both Copper minerals are produced by the weathering of Copper ore deposits and malachite often pseudomorphs after Azurite. A pseudomorph refers to substation from one mineral to another whilst retaining the original external form and dimensions.

The mineral difference in water content and its reaction with copper accounts for a wide variety of stunningly beautiful specimens. The already fascinating forms in which each mineral is found adds even more to the mystique of this combination. Azurite crystals are monoclinic and can form prismatic crystals. Specimens are typically massive to nodular and are commonly stalactitic in form. The fine crystals in a structured arrangement make for some fantastic sparkle in our rings and pendants!

Malachite famous for its banded shades of green, often forms as botryoidal, fibrous or stalactitic masses. The botryoidal habit is reminiscent of a bunch of grapes and when in an aggregate alongside azurite can be a spectacular site.

In rare occasions Dioptase can be found in company with these vivid materials. A copper colored mineral itself, Dioptase is classified as copper cyclosilicate with a chemical composition of CuSiO2(OH)2 and belonging to the trigonal crystal system.

A dramatic, almost emerald-green color, Dioptase crystals are highly lustrous and are generally well-formed six-sided prisms terminated by rhombohedra. Although crystals are rarely large, specimens can be breath taking when in a cluster or as a fine scattering of crystals over their whitish carbonate matrix.

Bunny Bedi, owner and designer at Made in Earth, has always had a soft spot for this combination of minerals. “Azurite Malachite is always high on my list of stones to buy. The beauty of this gorgeous combination is that each piece has a unique appearance. Different mining locations produce vastly different qualities of pattern, color intensities and inclusions. We have some amazing rings and pendants in our galleries, with truly spectacular and clearly defined Dioptase crystals and others with a ‘druzy’ of Fibrous Malachite and Azurite crystals”.

Blue and green should always be seen: Rule Number 1. Often when we see a colorful cabochon or faceted stone with multiple minerals and inclusions a second thought doesn’t cross our minds of how or why they interact. The consumer may only see a stone for its visual feast but those of us obsessed by gemstones know that, in gemology, there’s a reason for everything and here at Made in Earth we also love to capture these colorful and playful combinations in our jewelry collection.

 


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