Copper has been appreciated and widely used since its discovery. Its name, Aes Cyprium, comes from Cyprus as this island is one of the major sources. Copper is particularly renowned for its durability. The ancients represented it with a symbol meaning “for life,” due to its anti-corrosion abilities and for its ability to alloy with other metals, creating brass, a mixture of copper and zinc, and bronze, a mixture of copper and tin.
It is difficult to date precisely the appearance of the first copper objects, however, it’s safe to say that native copper, or raw copper, tools and weapons appeared as early as the Neolithic period around 5,000 BC. Later, copper objects from the ninth millennium were discovered in Iraq. It is considered that civilisations were using bronze as early as 3,500 BC given that iron did not appear until around 1800 BC. Copper stone was also used in art i.e. for the Colossus of Rhodes in 290 BC.
In actuality, however, it was the invention of gunpowder that led to the intensive use of bronze and therefore copper. Subsequently, scientific tools such as the compass, the scale, or even ship parts utilised copper.
Lastly, with the development of electricity at the beginning of the 20th century, industry and construction once again required large quantities of copper. From simple parts to advanced technological systems, copper is an indispensable part of our society.
It was not until 1190 that the term copper was adopted in France owing to Gautier d’Arras using it in his work. To return to the origin of this term more precisely, it comes from the Latin cyprium, a term itself borrowed from the Greek cyprios, meaning “relative or specific to the island of Cyprus.” Thus the name aes cyprium referred to the metal originating from Cyprus. The island of Cyprus was known for its copper ore and crude copper sources, but it could also be found in northern Michigan, though its deposit were unknown at the time.
Natural copper (symbol Cu), is a metallic mineral, a crystalline species of the native element category. With no cleavage, it crystallises in the cubic system, has a high density (8.93) but a low hardness (2.5 to 3) and therefore a light mass. With its crystals of red shades, it is an opaque, crystalline, brilliant and metallic-looking stone. Its scaly and uneven surface is characterised by light pink, which darkens, becoming shiny and metallic very quickly, as soon as the metal is exposed to air.
As native copper is a cohesion of detrital and irregular metal masses, it has good capacity for malleability, ductility and thermal and electrical conduction, hence its use in the arts and for electricity. In greater detail, natural copper is a cubic crystal produced by reactions between hydrothermal solutions and reducing bodies such as iron oxides (from basaltic lavas). Copper crystals can reach gigantic sizes such as near Lake Superior in Michigan where there are rock formations of more than 420 tons.
Copper is rather difficult to preserve due to its oxidation. As a result, the majority of the preserved samples have lost their bright red colour and have become tarnished and dark. It should be noted that copper has a melting temperature of around 1083°C and produces a black layer of oxides during cooling. Nevertheless, as described above, even through a single exposure to ambient air, copper oxidises to cuprite, malachite, chessylite and lumite. Copper oxides are characterised by their coverage, although the alteration is superficial.
Copper is not water soluble, giving water solutions a green colour from copper salts and turning dark blue with an excess of ammonia. Hydrochloric acid or concentrated ammonia also do not dissolve it. Moreover, diluted hydrochloric acid is recommended for cleaning copper parts. On the other hand, copper is soluble in nitric acid (releasing red nitrous vapours) or if heated in sulphuric acid. These characteristics make it possible to identify and distinguish it from other native element minerals.
Native copper is found in cavities as well as in porous areas of effusive mafic rocks, an extrusion product of basic lavas. Less found in sandstone and clay rocks crossed by hydrothermal veins, it can nevertheless be found when it is the reduction product of copper-rich ferrous minerals. Its rather amorphous shape is due to chemical precipitation. It can also be formed in oxidation zones of copper-rich sulphide deposits, as a result of chemical reduction. However, most native copper rock formations are found on layers or in veins.
The first deposits were discovered by observing alluvial valleys, as in the case of Bolivia where frequent native copper formations can be found in the sand.
Along with other non-ferrous metals, native copper was extracted from deposits which are now being depleted. For example, in 1800 England’s deposit contained more than 9% copper. Today it is depleted. As a result, deposits have become more difficult to find with only 4% copper content for ‘rich’ deposits. It is in Chile’s Chuquicamata, in the Atacama Desert, that the largest mines are located today.
While native copper is found widely in deposit’s cementation zones as in the case Cyprus, it can also be found in ancient mines flooded with waters laden with copper sulphate. Slowly forming due to sulphide oxidation yielding soluble copper sulphate, it permeates iron or mineral replacements of altered mine timber to produce pure copper in various forms. The combination of wood and copper has been noted in France and Hungary.
It can also form in volcanic areas, within quartz geodes or in basalt, as well as in sandstone, limestone, slates or ligneous rocks. For example, the Keweenawa Peninsula was produced from alternating layers of basalt and sandstone. It can be combined with copper minerals, alloyed with silver as a half-breed, or with calcite, zeolites or epidote. Surprisingly, copper stone can be found in traces of meteorites as attested by the Soviet Luna 24 mission on August 18, 1976.
Along with its electrical conduction capabilities, copper stone is also a good conductor from an etheric and psychic point of view. It promotes the flow of energy through the chakras and the rise of Kundalini energy. It is often used by energy therapists such as hypnotists, reiki practitioners, or mediums. A powerful tool for meditation, it helps with astral travel and divination, balancing our emotions with the mind. It also improves creativity and artistic intuition. Calming those who are agitated, it fosters a sense of justice, allowing us to develop our ideas and reasoning. It also brings harmony and love to all.
With its antibacterial action and its fungicidal abilities, native copper can treat fungal infections. In litho therapy, it has many qualities. It relieves joint pain and helps those who feel stiff or easily exhausted after intensive exercise. It also regulates intestinal problems, soothes our digestion, detoxifies the body, and reduces menstrual cramps whilst fostering fertility. Finally, thanks to its effect on the liver, kidneys and brain, it is recommended for the elderly for vitality as well as for those who have difficulties waking up.