Malachite Gemstone Information
About Malachite - History and Introduction
Malachite is a green copper carbonate mineral. Its name could have come from the Greek word, "malache" which means "mallow", because the colour of malachite is similar to the colour of mallow leaf. Alternatively, the name could have originated in the Greek word, "malakos", which means "soft", due to the fact that malachite is soft compared with other minerals. Malachite is used as a source of copper and as a gemstone. It often occurs with azurite in copper deposits. Malachite often has distinctive concentric bands in varying shades of green, which make it an interesting gemstone. It typically occurs in aggregate form, as botryoidal (grape-shaped) masses. The history of malachite goes back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who used malachite to make jewellery and amulets, and ground it into powder to make eyeshadow. Malachite has also been used as the pigment in green paints. Many years ago, huge blocks of malachite, some weighing an enormous 20 tonnes, were found in Russia and were used by the Tsars to decorate their palaces. However, the most significant contemporary source of malachite is Africa.
Identifying Malachite Back to Top
Malachite is a distinctive material, due to its concentric rings. When the stripes can be seen, it cannot be mistaken for another material. However, when a piece of malachite is so small that it cannot be identified by the banding, it could be mistaken for other opaque green gemstones.
Malachite; Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
The largest malachite deposits occurred in Russia, where blocks of over 20 tonnes were found. However, nowadays, most malachite is mined in Zaire, Australia, Chile, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Arizona.
Buying Malachite and Determining Malachite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Malachite Gemmological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemmology-related terms.
Malachite: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Malachite is related to azure-malachite, which consists of azurite and malachite. Since azurite-malachite is a mix of azurite and malachite, it is a mix of blue and green. Malachite is also related to Eilat stone, which is malachite intergrown with turquoise and chrysocolla that comes from Israel.
Malachite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans made malachite into amulets to provide protection from the evil eye and in the Middle Ages it was used to protect children from witches and black magic. In fact, malachite was believed to warn its wearer of impending danger by breaking into pieces. Malachite is therefore thought to possess protective qualities. Some say that malachite mirrors the feelings of the wearer, so it is best to wear it when feeling positive. However, others say that malachite is a calming mineral that can encourage positive feelings and release feelings of negativity. Physically, malachite is claimed to increase physical energy, reduce swollen joints, facilitate labour, alleviate menstrual disorders, encourage liver detoxification, prevent vertigo and travel sickness, aid peaceful sleep, help respiratory problems, enhance the immune system, stimulate digestion and encourage good circulation. Malachite is a traditional gemstone for the 13th wedding anniversary. It is also believed by some to encourage business success. In traditional Hindu belief systems, malachite is thought to balance the heart chakra, helping us to be in touch with our emotional needs and deal with our emotions effectively.
Malachite Gemstone and Jewellery Design Ideas Back to Top
Malachite pairs well with silver, gold or copper. It can be fashioned into vintage, tribal or contemporary designs. Its bold colour makes malachite suitable for both men's and women's jewellery. Malachite is suitable for both subtle, delicate designs or dramatic, chunky styles. Malachite gems are not usually faceted, however, faceted beads and rings are sometimes seen. Malachite gems can be drilled or tumbled.
Note: Buy coloured gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Coloured stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Famous Malachite Gemstones Back to Top
The most famous malachite is not a gemstone, but constitutes part of the interior decoration of "the Malachite Room" at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. The room was designed by Alexander Briullov as a reception room of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (wife of Nicholas 1), during the 1830s. The opulent Malachite Room features ornamental columns, vases and fireplace panels made from malachite.
Malachite Gemstone Jewellery Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Malachite is softer than many other gems, so it can be fairly easily scratched. It is not advisable to wear malachite as rings, belt buckles, bracelets, or other items that get constant daily wear. However, malachite can be worn in those ways occasionally. Malachite is best suited for use as earrings, brooches, pendants or tie-pins, since these are not as likely to be scratched or knocked. Since malachite is sensitive to heat, acid, ammonia and hot water, it should be treated with care. Therefore, harsh household chemical cleaners should be avoided. Malachite is softer than common quartz, and since ordinary dust often contains traces of quartz, simply wiping off dust can eventually lead to reduced polish and unwanted surface scratches. To clean your malachite, simply use soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewellery or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sports. Store malachite away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.
- First Published: February-12-2014
- Last Updated: May-30-2014
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