Both turquoise and chrysocolla are interestingly secondary minerals. This means they form as by-products of the breakdown of primary minerals. Another cool thing is that they are both typically found in dry, desert-like areas.
While they may look alike from afar, there are many differences between the two.
It can be a bit tricky when you’re faced with both chrysocolla and turquoise. Their striking resemblance often leads to a mix-up, but with a keen eye and some basic knowledge, you can tell them apart.
Let’s break it down:
First, let’s get to know turquoise.
While you might hear about turquoise crystals, they are actually quite rare. More often, you will find turquoise in a thick and solid form. Sometimes, it’s so finely grained that you can’t make out any specific details. It often appears as tiny veins or a thin crust on rocks. Turquoise can even show up in clumps or balls.
Now, when you’re thinking of turquoise, picture areas where rocks have changed a lot over time. Turquoise tends to form in veins within specific igneous rocks. For it to form, you need certain elements to be present, like phosphorus from apatite, alumina from feldspar, and copper from minerals like chalcopyrite.
The U.S. has some key places where turquoise is abundant, like New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. If you’re looking globally, countries like Iran, Tibet, and Chile also have noteworthy turquoise deposits. There’s a place in New Mexico, north of Interstate 40, that’s been so famous for its turquoise that it’s named the Turquoise Trail. People have been mining turquoise there for a long time.
This stone is a mix of aluminum, phosphate, and copper, and it’s pretty dense, falling between 2.6-2.8 on the density scale. When you break a piece of this solid turquoise, the broken surface might look like the inside of a seashell or just be really smooth.
The colors of turquoise
As for its appearance, turquoise has a lovely range of colors. It might be sky blue, or shades of green, from a bluish green to a bright apple green. If you ever come across rare turquoise crystals, they will have a shiny or glassy look.
When you rub turquoise on a tile, it might leave a white or light green streak. Also, if you ever hold a thin piece of turquoise up to the light, you might notice it’s slightly see-through at the edges. Another thing to note is that it’s not super hard; on a hardness scale, it sits at about 5-6. But do handle it with care, as it can be a bit brittle.
When talking about chrysocolla, it’s easy to think of turquoise because they share some similarities, but chrysocolla is its own unique mineral, which has copper silicate in it. Typically, its crystals are super small, and you would often find it filling veins in rocks or in rounded masses. Sometimes, it even has this pretty opal-like look. Those ultra-rare crystal forms? They’re like thin needles.
Chrysocolla is a result of copper getting oxidized. It doesn’t usually form straight-up crystals; instead, it first shows up like a gel-like substance that then crystallizes in cracks or spaces in rocks. You can often find chrysocolla hanging out with other minerals that are also related to copper, like cuprite and malachite. This association makes chrysocolla valuable because it can be mined for copper.
People in the American Southwest have tried using chrysocolla for jewelry, but unless it’s mixed with quartz, it’s too delicate. Speaking of where it’s found, the American Southwest has loads of it, especially in areas rich with oxidized copper minerals. There are other places around the globe too, like Australia’s Mt. Isa Mine and Colorado’s Creede Mine, that have chrysocolla as part of their mineral line-up.
The colors of chrysocolla
Color-wise, chrysocolla is somewhat of a doppelganger to turquoise. It can be sky-blue, blue-green, or just plain green, but here’s a cool distinction: chrysocolla often has these black streaks running through it.
Depending on how the light hits it, it can look shiny like glass, a bit dull, or even kind of muddy. It’s less dense than turquoise, sitting between 2.0-2.4 on the density scale. And if you were to break it, it would have a shell-like fracture, Be careful, however, because it can be delicate or even slightly flexible.
Chrysocolla vs Turquoise
Chrysocolla and turquoise, at first glance, can seem almost identical; however, chrysocolla usually showcases a wider range of color variations within a single stone. In contrast, turquoise remains more consistent in its color. If you delve deeper, there are also certain (meta)physical attributes that differ between the two.
Both these stones span a spectrum of blue to green. While chrysocolla may present with blue to greenish hues, accented with noticeable black veining, it often boasts multiple color variations. Turquoise, though similar in color, is more consistent. A top-quality turquoise, especially one with minimal blemishes, is deemed more valuable.
If you’re looking at top-tier chrysocolla, often referred to as gem silica, you will find it’s translucent. But other types can be opaque. Its luster can range from dull to shiny, even earthy at times. Turquoise, typically, is opaque but can occasionally show slight translucence. Its luster? Think waxy and glassy.
Here’s where it gets a tad scientific. Chrysocolla emerges as a hydrated copper silicate, formed mainly through copper oxidation. Turquoise, however, is a combo of copper and aluminum in a hydrous phosphate form. Its formation is due to aqueous liquids filtering through deeply changed rocks.
A solid giveaway between the two is their density. Chrysocolla weighs in lighter, with a density of 2.0 to 2.4. Turquoise, on the other hand, stands denser at 2.6 to 2.8.
A noticeable difference is their hardness. Chrysocolla’s range on the Mohs Scale is 2-7. Why the range? It’s tied to its silica content. Turquoise stays in the 5-6 bracket on this scale. If we’re talking about the pricier chrysocolla variant, gem silica, it’s a solid 7 on the Mohs scale, making it apt for jewelry.
Chrysocolla and turquoise metaphysical properties
Given that both chrysocolla and turquoise are revered for their beautiful hues and therapeutic characteristics, many people are drawn to their metaphysical qualities. While there’s no scientific proof of these claims, many individuals and cultures have, for centuries, valued these stones for their spiritual and metaphysical attributes. Here’s a detailed look:
Emotional Healing: You might think of chrysocolla as a friend who always encourages you to speak up and share your thoughts. At its core, this stone is all about helping people communicate better. Its lovely turquoise-blue shade is like a breath of fresh air, pushing away any negativity and bringing calm. Whenever you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, chrysocolla is there to help you find peace and remind you of the wisdom you hold within. It’s like a gentle pat on the back, telling you everything will be alright.
Spiritual Healing: For those on a spiritual journey, chrysocolla helps in meditative practices and communication. It helps you to recognize the times to be silent, and the times to voice out.
Chakras: Chrysocolla is associated primarily with the throat chakra, making it especially beneficial for enhancing one’s voice and expressions. However, its cleansing effect resonates with all the chakras.
Self-Awareness: It aids in understanding oneself and others, and promotes self-awareness and inner balance.
Emotional Healing: Turquoise is often perceived as a bridge between Heaven/Sky and Earth, grounding us while remaining open to Spirit. It promotes an inner calm, aiding creative expression and enabling us to communicate our desires and dreams.
Protection: Throughout history, Turquoise has been esteemed as a powerful talisman offering protection. It was often used as amulets by kings, warriors, and shamans.
Chakras: Turquoise primarily aligns with the throat chakra, aiding in communication, but it also resonates with the third eye chakra, enhancing intuition.
Spiritual Growth: Turquoise is known to assist in spiritual attunement, enhance communication with the physical and spiritual worlds, and boost overall spiritual growth.
While the metaphysical attributes of both chrysocolla and turquoise have their unique aspects, there’s some overlap, particularly concerning communication and expression. Whichever stone you’re drawn to, or decide to use, it’s essential to approach it with respect, intent, and an open heart. Remember that individual experiences with these stones will vary, and their metaphysical properties should be seen as complementary to other forms of therapy or healing.
Testing it to figure out which is which
If you have a piece in your hands and you’re wondering whether it’s turquoise or chrysocolla, there’s a neat trick you can try.
Chrysocolla is softer than turquoise, with a hardness level of 2-4, as noted. What you can do is take out a pocket knife (which has a hardness of about 5.5) and try to scratch a small corner of your specimen. If your knife doesn’t leave a mark, you’re probably holding turquoise. But hey, be gentle. You’re testing how hard it is, not how much pressure it can take.
There’s also another curious way to test chrysocolla: by licking it. It sounds weird, but your tongue might stick to it. If that’s the case, it’s chrysocolla
And if you’re still curious about how chrysocolla and turquoise compare visually, you can check out pictures of both minerals online. The Smithsonian has some awesome examples – just search for each mineral’s name.
Is chrysocolla the same as turquoise?
When it comes to chrysocolla and turquoise, it’s not just their eye-catching colors that catch our attention. These two do have a few things in common:
Nature’s Craftsmanship: Both chrysocolla and turquoise are, fundamentally, minerals. This means they are naturally occurring substances with a specific chemical structure and are not man-made.
Desert Dwellers: If you’re on the lookout for either of these minerals, you’d likely want to check in dry, desert-like areas. They’re commonly found in arid regions, where specific conditions favor their formation.
Secondary Showstoppers: What makes these two even more fascinating is that they’re secondary minerals. As noted, this means they form as a result of the breakdown or alteration of primary minerals present in the environment.
So, while chrysocolla and turquoise each have their unique attributes, these shared characteristics highlight the intriguing world of mineralogy and how varied yet interconnected it can be.
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