Chrysocolla Stone | Properties and Meaning
Chrysocolla Facts and Photos
Although a very soft stone in its purest form chrysocolla is often found combined with quartz which can make it considerably harder. Its colour is caused by the presence of copper and when polished, it can sometimes be mistaken for turquoise. Although highly sought after for use as a lapidary material because of its striking colour and markings, being so soft makes chrysocolla fragile and difficult to work with. On Mohs scale of mineral hardness it grades just 2½ to 3½ (in its purest form) but with the addition of quartz, stones can grade up to 7. As a general rule it should be handled very carefully and preferably as little as possible.
Although mined in a number of locations worldwide large quantities of commercial grade chrysocolla comes from Israel and Africa and in particular the Democratic Republic of Congo. This popular stone is often associated with the minerals malachite, turquoise, quartz and azurite.
When used in alternative therapies such as crystal healing chrysocolla is believed to provide inner strength during periods of stress or grief, promote harmony and eliminate negativity.
History of Chrysocolla
The name chrysocolla comes from the Greek word 'chrysos' meaning gold and 'kolla' meaning glue which translates as gold-solder. When used in ancient texts the word referred to a solder used on gold but it's uncertain whether that referred to green copper carbonate otherwise known as malachite or blue hydrated copper silicate which is the stone known today as chrysocolla. Despite tests being carried out on gold artifacts this question remains unanswered.
Theophrastus the Ancient Greek philosopher wrote about chrysocolla in his treatise Theophrastus on Stones but it's believed the word was used to describe all bright green coloured copper minerals. In later writings by the Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder it's written the "ancients used the name more as a reference to the stone that we know today as malachite" and goes on to say it should not be confused with modern chrysocolla. He also writes "gold is dug out of the earth and in close proximity to it chrysocolla, a substance which may appear all the more precious and still retains the name which it borrowed from gold". He talks about it being a liquid found in mine shafts that flows through the veins of gold and describes it as being a kind of slime which hardens and becomes like a stone during the cold winter. He says the finest material can be found in silver mines and then copper mines.
Chrysocolla on Malachite. Photo Courtesy of Stan Celestian - Flickr
Chrysocolla was used by the early Native American Indians for healing and dealing with emotional challenges. It was also powdered and used as a digestive aid to improve the body's resistance to disease and to relieve arthritic symptoms.
The photo at the top of our page was taken in Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Photo by Stone Mania ©
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