Malachite Facts and Buying Guide
by Sheweta Dhanuka
Malachite is procured in huge quantity from Ural Mountains of Russia and few states of United States. Other countries to produce this varied lustrous gemstone are Mexico, Australia, Germany, Romania, Chile, United Kingdom, Zambia, Namibia, Zaire and South Africa. Mine in Zaire is considered to be very important by the gemstone miners.
Malachite is a green colored semi precious gemstone. It is one of the oldest found green colour gems. It is named after its green colour, from a Greek word “mallow” meaning green leaf colour. This beauty is the anniversary gemstone for the 13th year of marriage.
It is one of the most widely found minerals on the earth’s crust. However, the purchase of the stone is not simple. The buyer ought to acquire little knowledge about the stone. Thus, this article equips him/her with the necessary information that would help in making the successful purchase of genuine gemstone. To start with, the basic 4 Cs would be discussed followed by vital characteristics that would aid to the know-how about this gemstone.
The primary colour for this stone is dark green. It is available in all deeper green shades for example blackish green. It occurs in many countries thus the green shade changes from one country to another. It contains light green, black or any other dark colored band in it. The bands are mostly in the pattern of concentric circles that are very irregular. According to few experts, bands are the result of some precise changes that takes place in the oxidation states of the surrounding pore waters where the stone is found. They are still working to find the exact reason behind the occurrence of the bands.
It is opaque to translucent and has varying luster that is vitreous, silky or dull. It is fractured in an uneven pattern. Original form of this stone consists of few holes (known as air pockets) in it. Even the genuine stones would have certain holes.
It is not very convenient to cut this stone, as it is a soft stone but due to its immense beauty it still forms an important part of antique and modern jewelry. New cutting machines have been discovered to cut the Malachite rough. Now it is cut, ground and polished into new shapes. However, common cuts like pear, square, oval, marquise, round etc are always available in the market. These days other than the common usual cuts different animal shapes are more in demand. For the jewelry items it is cut into cabochons and tailored into necklace beads.
As rough it occurs in thick sheets, large inter-linked nodules and crusty formations. The massive rocks after polishing becomes quite valuable. Stones of any carat weight are easily available.
It is crucial for this stone to be polished. Its original form that is rough contains few air pockets (referred as holes) that are filled during polishing. After necessary cutting the holes are filled with the special paste made from the Malachite pieces. With the filling, the holes tend to become almost negligible. Once the air pockets are filled, the stone is coated with a protective polish in order to make it more durable.
Gems consisting dark green colour with concentric circles of light green or blackish green are priced most. Its wide availability makes it an affordable gem. Moreover the price for this stone is dependent on carat weight and country producing it. More the carat weight more shall be the price. The gems from Africa, Zaire, Russia and Arizona state of USA are priced most. Enhanced or treated stones cost less.
It is a secondary mineral found in the oxidized zones of copper deposits. Secondary mineral implies that it is formed when other chemicals alter copper minerals. This gemstone is formed in two ways. One when carbonated water comes in contact with copper minerals and secondly when a solution of copper reacts with limestone. This carbonate mineral is often found along with other semi precious stone known as Azurite, which is dark blue in colour. Thus, it shares the same properties as that of Azurite. Sometimes, the formation is incomplete that leaves the stone a mix of these two stones and such combinations are sold under the trade name Azurite-Malachite.
It is procured in huge quantity from Ural Mountains of Russia and few states of United States. Other countries to produce this varied lustrous gemstone are Mexico, Australia, Germany, Romania, Chile, United Kingdom, Zambia, Namibia, Zaire and South Africa. Mine in Zaire is considered to be very important by the gemstone miners.
It is occasionally coated with colorless wax to improve the colour and highlight the band. Sometimes it is even impregnated with plastic or other hardened agents to make it little harder enabling effective and efficient use. Enhancements are done with the aim to improve durability and retention of the stone.
In the gem market, synthetic green colored stones are sold as Malachite. The synthesized stones would possess regular black or white bandings. Buyers need to always remember that original stones would always possess naturally formed irregular patterns. Also they has to be cautious of the trade names viz. Emerald malachite, Blue malachite, Copper malachite and Siliceous malachite.
It is having both consumer and industrial use. It is used as an ore of copper and crushed to make a green pigment. The green pigment is one of the ingredients for the green paint. One of the unique uses of this gem is that it’s fine green powder is used for eye shadows. It is used for decorative purpose as well such as chess sets, jewelry boxes, vases, picture frames etc.
It is widely used as ornamental stone and gemstone. When a single large rock is found from the copper deposits, it is carved into animal figures or sculptures. This single ornamental piece after polishing fetches a huge amount. As a gemstone it is used for handcrafted jewelry, which is appreciated all over the world. In this variety of jewelry this green gemstone is made more attractive by use of other semi precious gemstones viz. Coral, Pearl, Azurite, Jasper and Onyx etc. It is also used in traditional Turquoise jewelry where similar colored stone instead of competing with each other greatly compliment the other stone. Carvings and figurines of Malachite are also very popular.
It is one of the softest stone found. It rates only 3.5-4 Mohs on the hardness scale. It is quite sensitive to acids and heat therefore exposure to harsh chemicals, excessive sunlight / heat and large temperature changes must be strictly avoided else the stone might turn into black colour. It has to be constantly protected from sharp blows and scratches. Being too soft it is prone to get split up into two easily.
This delicate gemstone should not be cleaned in home ultrasonic cleaner. And also unlike other gemstones it can’t be cleaned with the water, as it would wash off the protective polish coated for improving the life of the stone. The Malachite gems, jewelry pieces, carved items etc should be cleaned only with a dry soft cloth. Jewelries should be stored in a separate box lined with either cotton or velvet.
It was believed in ancient times that wearing this gemstone in form of ornaments protect the wearer from the evils and witches. Today astrologers associate it with spiritual growth as it helps in overcoming the bad memories and experience that took place in past. It also gives strength to heal the emotional and physical problems. It also develops the intuitive power and helps the wearer to cope up with the changes easily.
Green colour has always been associated with the negative characteristic ” Jealousy”. But this gemstone that always occurs in green colour brings the wearer close to harmony, loyalty and pious feelings. This green beauty protects the people of all the age groups from the negative energies. Therefore, to get secured fully in every aspect acquire this green gemstone soon. Happy buying !!