Native copper is one of the few metallic elements to occur as a natural mineral in an uncombined form. It more commonly occurs in oxidized states often mixed with other elements.
Native copper can occur as cubic and octahedral crystals, but more typically is found as irregular masses and fracture fillings. It has a reddish, orange to brownish colour on fresh surfaces, but often is heavily weathered and coated with secondary copper minerals and carbonates.
Native Copper is a heavy mineral with a specific gravity of 8.9. Its hardness is 2.5 – 3.
The name copper comes from the Greek kyprios, or Cyprus, the location of copper mines since pre-historic times.
Native copper was an important ore of copper in historic times and was used by pre-historic peoples. Today, other copper minerals are far more abundant and economical to mine and purify into metallic copper that is used for wiring, electrical components, coins, tubing and many other applications.
Native copper is still found in limited quantities in once-active mining regions. These finds are now valuable as mineralogical specimens and ornamental pieces. Fine specimens only rarely demonstrate crystal faces and these are prized above otherwise similar specimens.