These two common copper minerals go together like peas & carrots, peanut butter & jelly, fall & pumpkin spice. But it's not like humans pair them. Nature does. And together they create marvelous mineralogical masterpieces - as deep blue crystalline azurite sparkles, among velvety bright green malachite.
Read on to learn how they form, where they come from, and how you can use them to level up your life and your home!
Composition, Physical Properties & Names
Azurite and malachite have had humans' attention for a long time! They were first named and documented in the around 2400 years ago, in the publication "On Stones" by Theophrastus (and also mentioned by Pliny the elder.) Malachite comes from the greek word mallow which means green (and perhaps after the mallow family of plants which were used medicinally consumed for food.)
Azurite on the other hand was simply named for the color blue. Unlike malachite, azurite usually forms as tabular crystals with well defined faces. You can see them sparking in reflected light.
Malachite crystals vary in their crystal habit. They're sometimes banded like agates. They're often boytroidal/ spherical, and sometimes they form clusters and radiating crystals of mammillary aggregates. Fibrous malachite may look silky and shimmery, but usually (unpolished) malachite looks earthy or velvety.
Azurite Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 and malachite Cu2(CO3)(OH)2 are both copper carbonate minerals. They're on the softer side with hardnesses ranging from 3.5-4 on the Moh's scale. So be careful with them, as they'll scratch easily compared to quartz.
How you can identify azurite and malachite?
So you want to know how to tell for sure if you're looking at malachite or azurite? Fortunately, they're common minerals and easy to identify.
Usually you can peg them by color alone. Malachite's bright green, while azurite's azure blue. If you still have doubts, the smoking gun is that both of them fizz like crazy if they come into contact with dilute HCl.
How'd they form?
You can find these secondary copper bearing minerals around copper deposits. Here's how they came to be...
Hot water circulating through big cracks below the surface of the Earth becomes a mineral rich solution. This usually happens above some kind of deeper igneous intrusion.
When conditions change, (like temperature, pressure or mineral concentration) minerals precipitate out of the hot mineral rich fluid. That means they crystallize into solid form - coming out of the water solution, and become emplaced in the surrounding rock.
When they contain economically important minerals or metals like copper, gold, zinc, lead, silver- they're called hydrothermal (hot water) ore deposits.
Malachite and azurite are found around copper ore deposits- but they weren't formed as part of the initial deposit. They come later in the process - when primary copper sulfide minerals like chalcopyrite, and chalcocite are exposed to oxygen (oxidized) and altered near Earth's surface.
Acidic surface water percolating down through an ore deposit can pick up the copper ions and reprecipitate them with carbonate. The result? Malachite and azurite crystallize out of that solution!
>5000 years of human use
With hues like these, It's probably no surprise to you that these gorgeous blue and green minerals were carved into beads and gems for ages. Did you know they were also used as paint pigments- coloring not only ancient tiles and paintings, but even farther back- cave drawings!?
Malachite's been used to treat all kinds of medical conditions for >5000 years! Perhaps like a copper-containing cure-all? Today, other copper compounds are found in multi-vitamins and we've largely steered clear of ingesting malachite.
And remember that blue eye shadow trend from the 80's? Yeah, thanks to crushed up azurite, ancient Egyptians may have rocked this look waaay before then. They did, after all, use pulverized malachite and azurite for makeup.
Archaeologists believe malachite was the first mineral to be smelted - kicking off the Bronze Age. Before then, early attempts by early humans were made to use malachite and azurite to bring color to their pottery, but unfortunately, the firing temperatures were hotter than the malachite could withstand.
Where they're found
Azurite and malachite are found around copper ore deposits. US sourced malachite and azurite specimens commonly come from Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. They're pretty common and found all over the world- including Mexico, just south of the US. While some beautiful and notable specimens on the market today come from Congo, we at Truth Minerals do not carry those for moral and ethical reasons.
We do, however, have a new collection of malachite and azurite on sandstone slabs, for ya - that were lovingly sourced in Utah. These blues and greens pop, sparkle and shimmer. You'll love the way the look in your hand and home!
How'd these Utah crystals form?
There's a lot of copper resources throughout Utah. So it's not hard to imagine copper-enriched water below the surface flowing through and around the existing rocks. In the La Sal region of Utah, the existing rock is sandstone (that formed ~65 million years ago when rivers and alluvial fans dumped sand grains into a basin). After its deposition, the sandstone fractured and faulted because of tectonic stress.
So as the copper enriched water flowed through the fracture networks within the sandstone, azurite and malachite precipitated out of solution. These beautiful blue and green crystals grew inside little cracks in the sandstone- encrusting the exposed sandstone surfaces with sparking azure blue crystals and rich green banded, spherical and fibrous malachite.
Ethically sourced & dreamy
Mine owner, Bill Harrison, always had a dream to find blue azurite crystals. He started his search in Arizona, and eventually gambled on some property in Utah. He's owned the Utah property (near La Sal) for 25 years but only really started finding the sweet spots after the first 14 years of mining there!
Throughout his mining adventures, he's taken great pride in mining and great care of the land. He carefully re-covers old mining areas- re-planting vegetation, continually restoring and improving the land.
Not only will you feel good about buying the material produced from Bill's land, you'll create a sanctuary in your home with rich blue and green crystal slabs. The crystal encrusted sandstones that come out of Bill's mines are trimmed and prepared so they end up as sandstone slabs, showing off the sparkling blue and green mineral coated surfaces.
How to use in your home (green & blue feng shui and placement)
Natural crystals always have a grounding effect when you mix them into your decor! Any way we can connect back with nature and slow down our busy minds- is a win!
But when it comes to choosing colors for your home decor, different hues can affect our moods in different ways.
Green's often associated with a fresh, lively, rejuvenating energy (as well as that of wealth and abundance). So you can place a malachite slab on your shelf and remember to see abundance all around you in life.
Remember to pour love into life and any new ventures in your life. (And perhaps you could energetically bless your bank account every time you walk by.)
Azure blue in your space has a calming effect. And the sparkle of deep blue azurite crystals invites you to find settle into a calm head space.
From there the possibilities are endless- you can create a meditative practice, read that self help book you've always wanted to read, do some journaling to better understand yourself, and continue on your spiritual journey...
Manifesting with Malachite + Azurite
Your thoughts create your reality. Have you ever heard this? Or this one... what you focus on grows? What you appreciate appreciates...
Well I can personally vouch for this concept. I've manifested lots of goals and dreams- like jobs, a husband, kids, degrees, houses, boats, etc- (and also, lots of things I created but didn't want- like strife, difficulty, drama, and stress.)
Malachite's known as "the stone of transformation" and (especially combined with azurite) is believed to strengthen our ability to visualize.
One very key part of my manifestation process- is visualization. And it's not just me. Business leaders and top athletes use this tool as well. Oprah and Jim Carey also talk about the importance of visualization.
So, if the vivid shades and textures of these beautiful copper carbonates can enhance visualization, (and we make a regular practice of visualizing)- transformation can't be far behind!
Just find a quiet, comfortable place to close your eyes, with malachite in hand, and once you're in a state of deep relaxation with a quiet mind- you can project movies or mental pictures in your mind of what you want to manifest.
Imagine yourself going through the process of achieving a goal- step by step. Imagine how it feels. Let yourself feel joy and pleasure in the process as you visualize working on the goal- as well as the celebration after achieving the goal you're working toward.
Break open & uplevel your spiritual growth
If you're growing spiritually, emotionally, pyschologically (or really any other way as a human) there are times when you have to face your stuff. You may have to reflect on what's holding you back or causing you to repeat patterns- and work through it to move forward.
Many of us are taught not to feel our feels. To "keep it together". Don't get mad, or sad- just suck it all in and put on a smile.
But as nature shows us, breaking open is sometimes part of the growth process. When it gets too tight inside a bud it breaks open, and out comes a flower. After incubation eggs break open and out comes chicks.
And in these sandstones, after being under tectonic strain- they eventually broke open. Fortunately, the composition of the water was conducive to the growth of beautiful blue and green copper minerals on the surfaces of the broken rock.
So whether you're facing your stuff with a past life regression, karmic healing or good ol' therapy- know that it's okay to break open. Let your feelings well up and pour out. Let the tears flow. Punch a pillow if you need to.
But don't stay there forever. Pour some love into those fractures. Set your intentions for growth and soul evolution. Then surrender and watch the miraculous process unfold.
Like the malachite and azurite grew out of solution in the sandstone fractures, the broken open parts of you will grow back stronger and more beautiful than ever. You'll radiate, sparkle and glow like the brilliant hues of malachite and azurite.
Thanks for reading! Hope you learned something or found some inspiration.
And if you're interested in shopping these Utah azurite and malachite encrusted sandstones, here's a link to the collection!
George Rapp, Archaeomineralogy, Second Edition, 2009; pub. Springer
William D. Nesse, Introduction to Mineralogy, Third Edition, 2017; pub. Oxford University Press