Chrysocolla is a mesmerising stone, especially prized for its unique mottled patterns and alluring cool colours. Its vivid blue hues and green cyan tones are owed to the presence of copper impurities. However, the exact chemical formula of this stone is not clearly defined, making this gem all the more fascinating. Highly sought after by avid gem and mineral enthusiasts, this is also a calming stone of expression, communication and teaching.
What is Chrysocolla?
Chrysocolla is a vividly coloured mineral, characterised by the brightest shades of blue and green caused by its copper content. It is often coated by a Drusy layer of clear Quartz, which gives it a stunning glossy finish. At times Quartz crystals may even be intergrown with the Chrysocolla stone (thus not just forming Druzy layers), forming Quartz-hybrid mixtures which are much harder and durable than pure Chrysocolla.
It is a gemstone-quality hydrous copper phyllosilicate with no definitive chemical composition. It is a minor ore of copper which occurs in copper deposits, often forming with copper salts, iron and manganese oxides. It commonly forms with other copper-bearing minerals, such as blue Azurite, green Malachite and Turquoise, which results in stunning and unique mixes of different colours and mottled patterns.
Characteristics of Chrysocolla
The striking colours of a Chrysocolla gem usually span from vivid green to bluish-green or blackish blue. However, when other minerals are present in the stone, other colours may also occur such as sky blue or grey, and may present a white to pale blue streak.
Crysocolla is a relatively soft stone (its hardness measuring a mere 2.5 to 3.5 on the Mohs Scale), which limits its use as a gemstone. When cut and polished, a Chrysocolla gem will have an attractive vitreous to greasy lustre and a translucent to opaque transparency.
It is usually found as botryoidal or rounded masses, vein fillings, stalactitic groups or in massive form, never in visible crystals. Its crystal structure is orthorhomnic, monoclinic or botryoidal.
As briefly mentioned above, the chemical formula of Chrysocolla is not clearly defined, as its composition contains a varying substitution of elements and water content. Only microcrystals present an identifiable chemical formula, most forms however are considered amorphous.
Chrysocolla in jewellery
Though this is a very attractive and unique stone, it is usually considered too soft for mainstream jewellery. However, if set in appropriately designed jewellery and worn with care, Chrysocolla can be used to create outstanding pieces. Furthermore, stones intergrown with Quartz or with a Druzy layer are more durable than other forms of Chrysocolla.
It is usually fashioned into beads and cabochons to be used as a gemstone, and is occasionally faceted into other forms for collectors. Its use tends to be limited to protective designs, in pieces such as earrings, brooches, pendants or tie-tacks. It not recommended for rings or bracelets, though Chrysocolla-Quartz composite stones worn with care can be durable enough to be used in such designs too.
Chrysocolla is usually inlaid in silver or copper, rather than gold or platinum, as the former tend to bring out and enhance the natural colours of the stones, making stunning jewellery pieces.
Chrysocolla belongs to a small group of copper-bearing gems which includes Azurite, Larimar, Limonite, Malachite, Quartz, Paraiba Tourmaline and Turquoise. Because of their similarity in colour and lustre, Chrysocolla is often confused with Turquoise or Azurite.
Because it lacks a definitive chemical formula, it is difficult to identify a Chrysocolla stone by composition. Essentially, any globular, massive, vivid green to cyan blue copper silicate which cannot specifically be identified as otherwise, will be a Chrysocolla. This gorgeous stone can often be distinguished by its unique colour, mottled patterns and hardness. However, depending on its composition and the included impurities, these characteristics may range significantly.
In most cases, distinguishing a Chrysocolla stone may be done by scratch testing. For instance, despite their similarity in colour, Chrysocolla is slightly softer than Turquoise, Smithsonite (the colour of which tends to be a little lighter) and also Variscite (its colour is usually slightly greener).
Taking care of your Chrysocolla
Because of its softness, extra care should be taken when cleaning a Chrysocolla stone in order for it to retain its attractive polish. It should, for instance, be cleaned separately from other stones or jewellery pieces as it can be easily scratched. A soft brush or cloth or soapy water can be used on the gemstone, while ultrasonic cleaners or streamers are to be avoided, as are harsh household chemicals such as bleach.
When being stored, Chrysocolla stones are again best kept separate from other gems and jewellery. In fact, it is best to wrap individual Chrysocolla stones in soft cloth and place them in a soft, fabric-lined jewellery box for added protection. Moreover, these stones should be removed before exercising, playing sports, performing household chores or handling chemicals.
Furthermore, prolonged exposure to excessive heat or to direct sunlight should be avoided in order to prevent permanent damage to the mesmerising colour of Chrysocolla stones.
Where can Chrysocolla be found?
Chrysocolla typically forms in copper deposits in arid regions and is pretty much found worldwide. Outstanding Chrysocolla pseudomorphs of Azurite are found in Whim Creek Copper Mine in Whim Creek, Australia, while reniform shaped stones and thick crusts come from Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In the United States, striking stones are found Arizona (the most outstanding Chrysocolla is said to come from these mines, with the locality of Ray especially noted for its gorgeous stalagmites combined with Quartz), Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Utah, while in South America, several notable deposits are found in Chile’s Atacama Region and in the Lily Mine in Pisco Umay, Peru.
Cornwall in Britain also produces beautiful Chrysocolla, while in Asia, noteworthy localities are found in Indonesia (specifically, the Bacan Islands) and in Israel. In the latter, the ancient Timna Copper Mines of Eilat have produced a magnificent combination of Chrysocolla, Turquoise and other copper minerals such as Malachite, known as the ‘Eilat Stone’.
Varieties of Chrysocolla
Pure Chrysocolla is quite rare, and most deposits offer this gorgeous stone mixed with other minerals and compounds. In some cases, mixed specimens will be traded under varietal names, however, most suppliers will trade them simply as ‘Chrysocolla’ as most names are not considered official.
The following are among the most popular related varieties of Chrysocolla:
Apache Chysocolla is a mix of Chrysocolla, Turquoise, Jasper, Lapis, Malachite and Quartz and is found in Arizona (USA) mines.
Eilat Stone is a mix of Chrysocolla, Lapis, Azurite, Malachite and Turquoise and is specifically found in Eilat, Israel.
Aluminian Chrysocolla, rich in aluminium, is a lesser known variety, and so is Cyanochalcite-Chrysocolla, a phosphorous-rich variety.
The origins of its name
The name ‘Chrysocolla’ comes from the ancient Greek ‘chrysos kolla’ meaning ‘gold glue’, in reference to the material used to solver gold first used by Greek philosopher and botanist Theophrastus in315 B.C. and still used by goldsmiths today.
Properties of Chrysocolla
First and foremost, Chrysocolla is a stone of communication, expression and teaching. It is said to help us reveal our highest knowledge so that we can pass it on to others who may benefit from our experiences. It mainly acts on oral forms of communication, such as being able to speak lovingly to a friend or effectively sharing insights with students. Furthermore, this is a gem which makes us more aware of the power of words, which have to be chosen wisely and with an awareness of their impact, which makes Chrysocolla an invaluable tool for public speakers.
Its mesmerising colours (in particular its turquoise hues) discharge negative energies, induce calm and allow inner wisdom to surface and be heard. It’s in fact a peaceful stone, one that emphasises the power one’s words and actions can have on those around us. It encourages compassion, forgiveness and the strengthening of emotional bonds. Furthermore, it helps us recover our natural spontaneity and genuine feelings.
In the professional realm, it is considered a stone of prosperity and business astuteness, as it said to enhance analytical and intuitive abilities. Also, this is a stone which supports accountants and those who work in the computer industry in particular, as it calms emotional stress. It is also a powerful aid for inventors and designers as it is a stone which encourages inspiration by helping combine creative ideas with new practical applications.
On a physical level, Chrysocolla has innumerable benefits. It is said to aid the regulation of adrenal glands and the thyroid and it is beneficial to those who suffer from high blood pressure and blood disorders such as diabetes (particularly Type 2). Furthermore, it can help strengthen muscles, alleviate cramps and improve joints, in particular when recovering from hip replacement surgery, or if suffering from arthritis and rheumatism. It is excellent for treating infections and is particularly effective on sore throats, laryngitis and fevers.
On an emotional level, Chrysocolla is known to teach the value of both keeping silent and expressing oneself freely. It allows one to feel free to speak volumes or remain silent as the soothing energy it releases dispels highly-charged emotional situations, allowing one’s feelings and thoughts to be shared with calm and wisdom. Furthermore, Chrysocolla helps if one has bottled up emotions that block the mind from thinking clearly as it helps express them and find balance and wholeness.
In the domestic realm, Chrysocolla is known for warding off the negative energies of unstable situations and rocky relationships as it is a gem which encourages stability, inner strength and acceptance. It also bears the unusual property of encouraging people to stay at home. As is exudes calm, it is an excellent stone for those who feel nervous when at home alone (especially at night) or for people with wandering temperaments, who do not usually feel at ease with staying in one place. Also, since antiquity it has been the stone of monks, hermits and prisoners as it is said to diminish the anxiety and depression that may accompany seclusion and isolation.
As it exudes calm, Chrysocolla is also a superb stone for those suffering from afflictions such as anxiety, depression or hyperkinetic movement disorders or are overwhelmed by feelings of guilt. It also relieves the anxieties of soon-to-be mothers, thus encouraging happy pregnancies.
This is a beautiful stone of empowerment for feminine energies. Chrysocolla is one of the gemstones of the Goddess and women who resonate with it are likely to feel her primordial and enduring energies rise within themselves. Worn or simply carried, this colourful gem teaches that genuine power is best expressed through gentleness and it also helps women express their wonderful knowledge and experience through the arts (such as writing, music, acting, painting or crafts). It is a powerful gift for first time mothers, grandmothers or great-grandmothers as it relieves anxieties and helps them settle into their new caring role.
Chrysocolla reverberates primarily with two chakras: that of the Throat (Fifth Chakra or Visudda) and that of the Heart (Fourth Chakra or Anahata). It is a powerful gem for unblocking and stimulating the Throat Chakra, where the voice of the body is found: it can be compared to a sort of valve that allows the energy emanating from other chakras to be expressed. When in balance, it allows for the expression of our ideas, beliefs and emotions. This means it allows for our personal truth to be brought out into the world, for a clear communication of one’s innate inner wisdom and loving knowledge to others. Moreover, an in-balance Throat Chakra enables an easy flow of energy within body and spirit: the energy springing from lower chakras can continue its upwards path enabling natural release and free expression.
This mesmerising stone can also help align the Heart Chakra as it calms, helps ease emotional heartache, strengthens and can also increase our capacity to love. The Heart Chakra regulates our ability to be ourselves within our surrounding environment and deals with what we choose to embrace and what to resist. In other words, it has an impact on our interaction with the external world. If out of balance, we may become excessively critical of others and in relationships we may either become too overbearing or too submissive. In addition, we may find we overreact to everyday external stimuli. When in balance, the Heart Chakra can help us more clearly understand our own needs and emotions, which in turn enables us to better deal with the ebbs and flows of emotional relationships.
The cool colours of Chrysocolla encapsulate wonderful energy which can be utilised for powerful talismans. The light blue hues of a stone, for instance, are the colour of shallow pools of water which reflect the sky as winter fades into spring. This colour ray encourages us to reflect upon, question and accept the life we have. Light blue talismans are typically used to develop patience, seek forgiveness and reconcile difference. They thus provide excellent support if dealing with grief, letting go of the past, overcoming guilt complexes or recovering from destructive patterns or addictions.
Similarly, turquoise coloured Chrysocolla reflects Earth’s colours at the Vernal Equinox, when the cold blue colours of winter melt into the warmer greens of springtime. This is a fresh, welcome energy which brings about serenity as new life emerges. Furthermore, this ray exudes hope, balance and discovery, it is used to temper excesses, restore calm after a storm and relieve stress. Turquoise talismans are often used to re-centre, deal with rage and moderate aggressiveness. The energy of lighter shades of turquoise promotes spiritual understanding, harmony and inner peace, while darker tones bring with them considerable power and flexibility which can help us counter intolerance and allow us to adapt to new ideas and environments.
Chrysocolla makes for a wonderful talisman for musicians and for those learning new musical instruments or joining an orchestra, theatre group or choir as it helps muster the confidence needed to perform in public. The highest form of Chrysocolla for this purpose is the Chrysocolla-Quartz composite, which is believed to magnify this beautiful gem’s energies. It is also an invaluable support for those producing or/and experiencing sacred sound, so those who sing, chant or speak mantras can benefit from this eye-catching composite.
Feng Shui decorating uses Chrysocolla to enhance any space utilised for calm reflection, repose or prayer as this beautiful stone uses Water energy: the energy of quiet strength, stillness and purification. The Water element is yielding, formless and powerful, and embodies potentialities which are yet to be fulfilled. Moreover, it brings with it the power of the circle of life, of rebirth and regeneration. This element is traditionally associated with the North area of the room or home.
It is also an excellent stone to use in meditation as it is a stone of ‘earth-grounding’. Therefore, it is invaluable during deep meditations as it prevents from losing touch with the conscious mind. It provides protection and strength in the course of astral travel and vision quests, while also improving meditation and peace of mind thanks to its high spirituality.