"Gem Nerds" Episode 1: Malachite Azurite

Park City Jewelers' Owner Ken Whipple has a knack for getting people excited about gemstones. He has so many fascinating stories to tell. His enthusiasm is infectious! 

We got Ken & Jen (also a gem nerd) to talk about Malachite Azurite on camera. This crazy beautiful stone will knock your socks off! Press play and be prepared to be blown away:


 - Hi, friends, I'm Jen.

- I'm Ken.

- And we're bringing you an episode of "Gem Nerds," from Park City Jewelers. Today, we're talking about malachite azurite.

- It's one of my favorite gems, I was on the way to work today, and couldn't get it out of my mind, we were talking about what gem to do, and this is it. I've been collecting it now for about 20 years. The best comes from a mine down in Arizona, it's called the Morenci Mine, it's a copper mine, and one day before Christmas they were digging around in the mine, and they found this seam, about a foot thick, of this malachite and azurite, and just freaked out, it was so rare to find that much of it together.

In copper mines, which this material is high in copper, once in a while they find some malachite and once in a while they find azurite, and a lot of times they'll just find kind of blue-y green rocks, and that's what they get the copper out of. But in this particular mine they get both. The thing that makes this mine so incredible, is if you can see in the rough specimen, you can see all the holes down in there. But this particular mine, they got it to where it formed together so closely they were actually able to cut and polish it.

The gems we have here from the Morenci, Arizona mine. They haven't been treated at all. This is just a solid, thick seam of malachite and azurite, that's just been polished. Some of them are incredible. This one here looks like a picture almost, with a frame around the outside, with the little green sun in there. Just amazing, and the bubbles in it are incredible. The green in it goes from a sea foam green, to like a deep forest green, and then the blues in it, go from like a Caribbean blue clear up to a midnight blue, it's just incredible colors, and solid. You can see how the pattern goes all the way through on these pieces. They are just amazing. And again, I've been collecting them for about 20 years. We don't have a lot of them made up in jewelry right now, but the gemstones are here, we can make anything you want. It's super, super rare to find them.

- Yeah, they're fascinating. They're so unique, each one is a one of a kind, too.

- Totally. And the price has gone up about 10 times from when I first started collecting it. We've got great, great prices on it. I heard that the mine has totally run out of it. They might find more down the road, they might not. It's just a really great gem. There's some that come from different places. Morocco, Brazil, but this quality, the only place is one little mine in Arizona, so, it's pretty cool stuff.

- So that's how you get the color variation, and it was just the really close pockets of the gemstone formations.

- Close pockets, yeah, you have the, the malachite that kind of formed first, and then the azurite came and formed around it, and just bonded exactly. It's really cool, some of these pieces, if you put this under the microscope, you'll see these just incredible, incredible blue microscopic little crystals in there. It is just a beautiful piece, and this is a piece of rock that came from there.

- Fascinating.

- Wouldn't that be fun, out in Miami, finding something like this? It's pretty cool. If you ever get to Park City, I've got some maps of some really fun places that you can go digging different gems in Park City, but this is one of my favorites, this is awesome. Come and get it quick, I don't have a lot of the really, really good gems left.

- And don't forget to get a homemade ginger snap cookie.

- Grandma's recipe, she was quite a cook. Take care, see ya.


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