Malachite earned its name because of its resemblance to the leaves of the Mallow plant. It was primary used throughout the ages for a mineral pigment to make green paints. Many striking samples of malachite contain special combinations with other minerals, such as azurite, cuprite, and chrysocolla. Today it is primarily used in rings, pendants, earrings, small carvings, and beads.
Hardness: Malachite is considered a soft stone, with a rating of 3.5-4.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
Color: Malachite is found in various shades of green such as bright green, dark green, blackish green, but its base color is usually dark green. This vivid green gem gets its color from the copper in its chemical formula. This mineral very often exhibits banding, where bands of lighter or darker green run around the stone at irregular intervals. These banded patterns are unique, making it one of most easily recognizable minerals to the novice collector.
Birthstone: Malachite is not associated with any birthstone or any particular zodiac sign.
Scarcity: Malachite is found abundantly around the world, with supply easily meeting demand, making it an inexpensive gemstone.
Value: Due to its great availability, malachite tends to make very inexpensive gemstones. The most expensive pieces are those that are integrally carved.
Most Common Cuts: As an art piece, beautifully banded malachite is often carved in various shapes and ornamental forms like fish, idols, and other animal figures. Due to its soft nature, cutting this mineral into a small gemstone can be a challenging task. In spite of being soft, brittle and sensitive to heat and acid, those who have mastered working with this gem have used it extensively in silver jewelry, inlaid work and as beads. As a pendant, the gem is often cut into a dome-shape or an oval.
Chemical Formula: Malachite is a carbonate mineral and has the chemical formula Cu2CO3(OH)2.
Synthetic Varieties: It is unusual for an abundant mineral to be made into a synthetic variety but some synthetic malachite varieties have been manufactured. Usually made in Russia, they often display more pronounced, highlighted bands that are black or white. Some lower quality malachite can also be stabilized with plastic resins or waxed with a surface polish and are treated with oil, epoxy or wax to enhance the color. Glass, plastic and synthetic malachite are some of the gemstones that can resemble malachite.
History: Malachite often results from weathering of copper ores and is frequently found with azurite, goethite, and calcite. Archeological evidence indicates that malachite has been mined for over 3,000 years. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used it to make jewelry, ground it to use as eye shadow and green paint, used it in inlay work and in carvings for cathedrals and churches. In the 19th century, Russian royals had sets of dinnerware, huge sculptures, vases and even sections of room paneling made of it. Southwestern Native Americans have long used it in their jewelry, as well.
Malachite is plentiful and has been found in many parts of the world. The largest quantities have been mined in the Urals, Russia but it has also been found in the Congo, Gabon, Zambia, Namibia, Wales, France, Israel, China, Brazil, the United States and in Mexico. Australia is also the home to several mines: Burra Burra in South Australia; the Rum Jungle in Batchelor, Northern Territory; and the Sir Dominick Mine, in South Australia.
Rumored Healing Properties: The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue but due to its long history, malachite has developed a reputation for holding many magical qualities. For example, Malachite is believed to have strong protective qualities for children and protect any wearer from accidents while traveling. Malachite is said to create success in business and bring balance to relationships. Because it was once used as eye shadow, it is said to protect against the evil eye. Malachite has been called the “mirror of the soul”, reflecting outwardly how you feel by releasing inhibitions. It is said to help rid people of nightmares if they keep a piece of it under their pillow.
Physically, it is said to combat dyslexia, balance mood swings and heal cramps. It can also boost the immune and nervous systems, lower blood pressure, treats asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, fractures, swollen joints, growths, travel sickness, vertigo, tumors, the optic nerve, pancreas, and spleen.