Ajoite is a very rare copper-related silicate which is sometimes found as inclusions in quartz. Ajoite has a rich turquoise blue color which, at its best, shows well through the natural, unpolished faces of the crystal. Sometimes coatings on the faces of the quartz crystals obscure the ajoite, in which case they are polished to a smooth, transparent finish. Ajoite is named after its main location in the Ajo District of Pima County, Arizona. It is a secondary mineral that forms from the oxidation of other secondary copper minerals. Ajoite’s color can range from blue green to light green. The luster is dull to resembling glass, thus it could be transparent to translucent. Its cleavage is perfect with a hardness of 3.5. Its streak is pale greenish white. Ajoite can also be found in at the New Cornelia Mine, Ajo District, Pima County, Wickenburg and Maricopa County within the United States, and the Messina District in South Africa.
For years, the only known source for clear quartz crystals with ajoite inclusions was the Messina Mine, Messina, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Ajoite became famous as an inclusion in quartz in the 1980’s, coming from a depth of over 4000 feet in the mine. When the Messina Mine closed in 1991, and was flooded in 1992, the supply dried up and became increasingly scarce (and expensive) as the years passed.
Late in 2008, a new find was discovered just a mile or so from the old Messina Mine. A large bucket loader was being driven along a dirt road on a farm near the old mine (in some reports it was a truck). Somehow, perhaps due to a hole in the road or driver inattention, the huge piece of equipment tipped over and landed in a pond adjacent to the road. Subsequently, the pond was pumped dry, and the loader recovered. This left a ledge exposed on one side of the pond which had previously been under water. As it sometimes happens, a local mineral collector happened by, noticed the newly exposed ledge, and decided to investigate. Much to his delight, he found a pocket of quartz crystals with ajoite inclusions which are arguably even better than the finest ever extracted from the long-closed Messina Mine. He extracted hundreds of crystals, and sold them to several South African mineral dealers. Later, the farm owner got wind of the discovery and closed the diggings before it could be determined if there was more to be recovered. Right now, the situation is at an impasse, which we hope will be resolved soon.
The new crystals were brought to Tucson for the first time in January, 2009, where they caused a sensation. Compared to crystals from the old Messina Mine, the quality was about equal, and the prices were a little more affordable. Most importantly, they were available again (albeit in limited quantity) for the first time in almost 20 years. Needless to say the competition to buy some of these crystals was intense. The best one I saw from the new find was over 6” tall, with rich, colorful ajoite inclusions. While I was busy admiring it, someone plunked down $24,000 and carried it off, leaving me standing there with my mouth hanging open!
At the Tucson show in 2010 we located some excellent crystals from the 2008 find which one of our favorite South African dealers had forgotten to bring the year before. Luckily, we arrived at his room just as he was unpacking the flats with this hard-to-find material, so we got first choice.
Ajoite in quartz is considered to be one of the most significant of all healing stones. It is used extensively by those interested in the metaphysical aspects of crystals. Click here to visit the ajoite gallery on our website which features these very special crystals.