A range of beautiful deep blues and rich in color, azurite has captured the hearts and eyes of many the world over for millennia. The word azure is derived from the Persian lazhward, an area known for its large amounts of another exceptionally rich blue stone, lapis lazuli.
Besides its modern-day circulation and usage among gemstone and crystal enthusiasts, azurite has its cultural roots in human hands, in the ancient world, as a talisman of protection and magic, as well as more practical functions of aesthetic purpose, like eye makeup and pigment used in countless paintings by masters like Raphael.
Besides its usage in more recent times as pigment for Renaissance painters, it’s also been used in China, Japan, and Assyria, and even as far back as ancient Egypt. A truly stunning stone, the color intensity of crystals like azurite and malachite beads are due mainly to the copper composition of both.
History of Azurite in Europe
Azurite was used as a blue pigment in antiquity, and, in the Renaissance, it restored its value as an essential pigment for painting by certain Renaissance masters. Masterworks by artists like Raphael in Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints used azurite as a pigment, but it later turned to malachite because of weathering.Azurite is also to blame for another richly blue-colored painting by Hans Holbein called Lady with a Squirrel, and it still retains its signature deep blue hue to this day. It turns out that, as more pigments are being tested by art restoration experts, many artists during the medieval period and early to late Renaissance, all the way to the Enlightenment, used azurite as a pigment to produce the rich, oceanic color the stone still evokes to this day.At the same time, malachite was also used in a similar way. Although the two often get lumped in the same basket, azurite and malachite are two completely different copper carbonates. While they can sometimes be found together (in the same formation), malachite typically yields a deeply, beautifully rich green coloring with ringlet waves that pervade its body, while azurite is generally cobalt. In art, the two together have made beautiful combinations.
History of Azurite in China
Azurite didn't just leave its imprint on European art, though. The mineral has been found in countless wall paintings in Central China from the Ming Dynasty, as well as paintings from the Sung Dynasty.In an esoteric sense, azurite is widely seen as a powerful crystal with equally as potent visual properties. To the ancient Chinese, azurite was known as the Stone of Heaven, most likely due to its transformative and serene coloring.Perhaps this was also due to the fact that the ancient Chinese believed it could be used to act as a sort of doorway between worlds. To this day, anyone familiar with the properties of azurite, possessing knowledge of crystals and their inherent qualities, knows the importance of the stone for this purpose. From there, it made its way to Japan, where it was used as a pigment for valuable silk fabrics.
History of Azurite in Egypt
Azurite usage among humans has its roots in history much earlier than that, though. Its earliest recorded history can be traced to ancient Egypt and beyond. The ancient Egyptians were mainly known for their use of lapis lazuli, a common stone mistaken for azurite.
Although they employed the use of the latter in some of their paintings in scenes of cobalt blue star-studded skies, most of the jewelry (the blue pieces, anyway) consisted mostly of lapis. The reason for this was probably due to its use in amulets and its more easily shaped and non-crystalline nature.
Azurite's importance took on a different meaning. In the days of the ancient Egyptians, the spirit world and this one were a lot more closely entwined. Azurite beads, in an esoteric sense, were highly important stones with properties of psychic protection, fortune, and increased connection to the spirit world. For this reason, and surely for its unmatched beauty as well, the mineral was highly revered.
Azurite gemstones are said to provide a natural healing energy that cleanses and strengthens the emotional body. It is said to be a profound way to release stress and worry and to overcome grief and sadness.For those who seek to wear azurite, the gemstone is said to bring a healing light into one’s consciousness. Infusing thoughts, feelings, words, and actions with the inspiration for the search of truth, this can take on the form of revealing phobias and fears, endowing light and wisdom into the reasons why they emerged in the first place.In addition, it is said to aid the psychic body in circulation and oxygenation of the blood, while also restoring any blockage or damage in the brain related to aging.