Malachite - Mineral and Healing Properties

Chemistry: Cu2(CO3)(OH)2, Copper Carbonate Hydroxide.

Class: Carbonate

Uses: As mineral specimens, an important ore of copper, as an ornamental stone, a pigment and for jewelry.

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Malachite is a famous and very popular semi-precious stone. It is named for the Greek word for "mallow", a green herb. Its banded light and dark green designs are one-of-a-kind, and give it a unique ornamental quality unlike that of any other stone. The light and dark green bands are so distinctive that malachite maybe one of the most easily recognized minerals by the general public. A popular design of ceramic ware which imitates this banding is named after the mineral malachite. It forms the banding from subtle changes in the oxidation states of the surrounding pore waters, but the exact mechanism is still not well understood. Tumbled stones of malachite are possibly the most popular tumbled stones ever and are sold in literally every rock shop around the world. Carvings and figurines of malachite are almost as common. A skilled craftsman can make the concentric malachite bands follow the curves of a work of art like contours on a rugged terrain. Although malachite art is not as precious as jade; it is hard to argue that it is less beautiful.

Malachite is also popular in jewelry, Native American Southwestern jewelry especially. The stones inlayed in silver make a nice variance from the traditional turquoise jewelry. Instead of competing, the two green stones tend to compliment each other when placed together in the same settings. Other stones such as coral, mother-of-pearl, azurite, jasper and onyx used in the typically handcrafted jewelry also compliment malachite's green colors.

Although its massive carvable forms are well known, its crystalline forms are much rarer and only recently becoming widely available to the average mineral collector. One of its more unique habits is its fine acicular crusts and tufts. At times appearing as a mat of thin hairs or as a carpet of green velvet. Another unusual habit is its stalactitic habits such as pictured above.

Many beautiful specimens of malachite contain special combinations with other minerals. Such combinations are some of the most colorful mineral assortments in the mineral world. They include such stunningly colorful minerals as dark blue azurite, sparkling black mottramite, baby blue chrysocolla, or rusty red limonite. So common is malachite that it is associated with almost every secondary copper mineral whether they are carbonate minerals or not. Malachite is found with many rare copper silicates, halides, phosphates, sulfates and carbonates such as duftite, libethenite, aurichalcite, sphaerocobaltite, kolwezite, shattuckite, Atacamite, chalcophyllite, antlerite, conichalcite, rosasite, chalcosiderite, clinoclase, brochantite, graemite, liroconite, mixite and cornetite, to name a few.

Malachite has a mineral impostor called pseudomalachite. Pseudomalachite is a copper phosphate that has a massive crystal habit and color that are very similar to malachite's habit and color, although the two minerals have different structures. Pseudomalachite means "false malachite" in Latin and is very rare compared to malachite.

Malachite is an impostor of its own. It frequently pseudo morphs the closely associated mineral azurite. A pseudo morph is a mineral specimen where the original mineral has been chemically replaced by another mineral, but the outward appearance is still retained. Pseudo morph means "false shape" in Latin parlance. The transformation is fascinating and sometimes leaves a nearly perfect azurite crystal shape that is actually malachite. Often the transformation is incomplete and leaves a blue/green mineral specimen unlike any other. A gem trade name is used for ornamental stones with this combination called azur-malachite. See the azurite page for a more detailed discussion of the transformation.

Origin Of The Name

The name Malachite comes from the Greek word "moloche" which means "mallow". The word malachite might come from the Greek malakos, meaning soft or from the Greek Malache.

The mineral was given this name due to its resemblance to the leaves of the Mallow plant.

Interesting Facts

The ancient Egyptians used Malachite in jewelry, and also ground it up to make cosmetics. In the Middle Ages, parents attached Malachite to their childers's beds to ward off evil spirits and witches.

The first culture to make extensive use of malachite was that of Egypt, a country whose history with malachite goes back at least as far as 4,000 BC when it was heavily mined in the Sinai -- near what is now the Suez Canal -- and in the famous King Solomon's copper mines on the Red Sea.

Reputed to have strong therapeutic properties, Egyptians believed that wearing malachite in bands around the head and arms protected the wearer from the frequent cholera epidemics that ravaged Egypt -- since slaves who mined malachite were often unaffected by the plagues.

The Greeks also used malachite architecturally: according to Pliny, built in 560 BC, the famous Temple of Diana (Artemis) in Ephesus -- one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (four times as large as Athen's Parthenon) -- was decorated with malachite.

The nineteenth century proved to be the golden age of Russian malachite. The sumptuous stone became a sign of prestige and a token of wealth -- so much so that Russian papers of the time wrote: "To afford having a big piece wrought in malachite is synonymous to owning diamonds."

Where Is It Found

Found wherever copper is mined. Malachite often results from weathering of copper ores and is often found together with azurite, goethite, and calcite. Malachite is more common than azurite and is typically associated with copper deposits around limestones, the source of the carbonate.

Large quantities of malachite have been mined in the Urals, Russia. It is found worldwide including in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Gabon; Zambia; Tsumeb, Namibia; Mexico; Broken Hill, New South Wales; Lyon, France; and in the Southwestern United States notably in Arizona.

In Israel, malachite is extensively mined at Timna valley, often called King Solomon's Mines, although research has revealed an interruption in mining activity at the site during the 10th century BC, the time of the biblical Solomon. Archeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted at the site for over 3,000 years. Most of Timna's current production is also smelted, but the finest pieces are worked into silver jewelry.

What Do We Do With It

Malachite has been used as an ornamental material by people for thousands of years, from the Far East to Ancient Greece. Malachite has been carved into statues, beads and jewelry.

Malachite was used as a mineral pigment in green paints from antiquity until about 1800.

Malachite was a popular decorative stone in Czarist Russia, and was used to make the columns of St. Isaac's Cathedral in Leningrad. Malachite also adorned many walls and even whole rooms of other religious and public buildings.

Metaphysical Uses

Malachite is a stone of transformation and helps with change and spiritual evolution. It can clear and activate all chakras, as well as balance them. Malachite is a stone that bridges the energy of the heart and root chakras. It is particularly useful for balancing and clearing the heart chakra. As such, it helps balance pure love, romance, and one's own well-being. Malachite is a stone of good fortune and prosperity/abundance, too. Malachite is also a very protective stone, being especially helpful for general protection, protection from evil, protection during pregnancy and childbirth, and protection for children. It is also an excellent protection stone during flying and other travel. Using this stone, one can counteract self-destructive romantic tendencies and help encourage true, pure love. Malachite is also good for enhancing emotional stability and balance in general. It can decrease one's tendency to radiation illness, asthma, arthritis, and tumors. Malachite is worn to detect impending danger, legend tells us that this stone breaks into pieces to warn it's wearer of the forthcoming danger.

Beads or pendants of malachite are worn to guard against negativity and physical dangers, wearing a malachite that touches your skin near your heart expands your ability to love, and in so draws love to you.

It is an excellent stone and quite valuable to those who feel as if they are at the end of their rope; however, caution must be used when wearing this stone, as it amplifies whatever energy you project.

Physical Characteristics

Color: Banded light and dark green or (if crystalline), just dark green.

Luster: Dull in massive forms and silky as crystals.

Transparency: Opaque in massive form and translucent in crystalline forms.

Crystal System: Monoclinic; 2/m.

Crystal Habit: Massive forms are botryoidal, stalactitic or globular. Crystals are acicular or fibrous and form in tufts and encrustations. Frequently found as pseudo morphs of azurite.

Cleavage: Good in one direction but rarely seen.

Fracture: Conchoidal to splintery.

Hardness: 3.5 - 4

Specific Gravity: 3.9+ (slightly heavy).

Streak: Green

Other Characteristics: Weakly effervesces in acid.

Associated Minerals: Limonite, chalcopyrite, bornite, native copper, calcite, cuprite, azurite, chrysocolla and many rare copper minerals such as kolwezite, shattuckite, antlerite, brochantite, graemite, aurichalcite, sphaerocobaltite, atacamite, chalcophyllite, conichalcite, rosasite, chalcosiderite, clinoclase, cornetite, duftite, libethenite, liroconite, mixite and mottramite among others.

Best Field Indicators: Color banding, softness, associations and reaction to acid.

Educational Videos

History of Malachite

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