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History & Introduction

Malachite is a green copper carbonate mineral. The name Malachite came from the Greek word, "malache" meaning “mallow", because the color of malachite is alike the color of mallow leaf. It is derived from another Greek word, "malakos", meaning "soft", because of the reason that malachite is soft compared to other minerals. Malachite has two uses one is the source of copper and the other as a gemstone. Malachite often has distinctive concentric bands in different colors of green, which make it an interesting gemstone. The history of malachite is from the times of ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They used malachite to make jewelry and amulets, it is even ground into powder to prepare eye shadow. Malachite is also used as the pigment in green paints.

Recognise - Due to its concentric rings the characteristics of malachite is of distinctive material. Once the stripes is seen, it is not mistaken for another material. Still, when a piece of the gemstone is so small that it is not possible to identify by the banding, it could be mistaken with another opaque green gemstones.

Availability - Ages ago, huge blocks of malachite, weighing almost 20 tonnes, were found in Russia and were used by the Tsars to decorate their palaces. But, the important deposits of malachite is Africa. At present, the largest malachite deposits are available in Russia. However, nowadays, most malachite is mined in Chile, Zaire, Australia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Arizona.

Usages - Malachite is commonly used as a bead gemstone for necklaces and bracelets. Cabochons are rarely cut, and these are available in various jewelry patterns like pendants. The softness and patterns of this gemstone, Malachite is a popular carving gemstone, which includes animal carvings and ornate small boxes and bowls carved out of it.

Buying Guide

Color - Malachite is light to very dark green. Its color comes from copper. It is usually banded. Among the famous bands the eye-like rings are present, and malachite gemstone with such markings are called "peacock's eye".

Clarity and Lustre - Rough malachite has a weak vitreous or matt luster, but malachite that is cut or polished has a silky luster.

Cut and Shape - Malachite is often cut en cabochon for earrings, rings or into fancy forms in pendants. It is even carved into intricate like cameos. Spherical shaped malachite prepares to attractive beads for necklaces, earrings and bracelets. There are times when Malachite is faceted or tumbled. When cutting malachite, the lapidarist would cut it in order to display the stripes.

Treatment - Since malachite is completely soft, but is sometimes coated with resin or wax to grow in hardness. Natural and malachite gemstone that is not treated is easily traceable.

Gemological Characteristics:

Chemical Formula Cu2(CO3)(OH)2 Basic copper carbonate
Crystal Structure Monoclinic; small, long prismatic; usually aggregate
Color From light-green to black-green, banded
Hardness 3.5 - 4
Refractive Index 1.655 - 1.909
Density 3.25 - 4.10
Cleavage Perfect
Transparency Translucent, opaque
Double Refraction or Birefringence -0.254
Lustre Weak vitreous, matt
Fluorescence None
Fracture Splintery
Tenacity Brittle
Rock Type Sedimentary, Metamorphic
Popularity (1-4) 1
Prevalence (1-3) 2
Demand (1-3) 1