Friday, January 11, 2013

Gemstone Highlights: Malachite


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What is it?

Malachite is an green banded, copper carbonate hydroxide mineral.  It results from weathering of copper ores, and is found deep underground where the water table fluids provide the perfect formative environment. Malachite is opaque in massive form, and translucent in crystalline form.


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The name comes from the Greek for "mallow" a green herb, because of its resemblance to the leaves of the Mallow plant.  Its light and dark green bands make it highly recognizable, and a favorite medium for jewelry and ornamental use. The crystals give malachite a velvety appearance.


Malachite has been mined in large quantities in Russia. However, it is found worldwide with notable mines in Zambia, Mexico, England, France, Australia, Israel, and the United States.

On the Moh's Scale of hardness malachite rates at 3.5 - 4 which is quite a bit softer than some of the gems we have highlighted in previous blogs. Therefore, you'll want to read the care instructions for malachite jewelry below.


Ancient Use.

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Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used malachite not only for jewelry, but ground it to use as eye shadow.  It was also the pigment in green paints until about 1800.  Archeological evidence indicates that the mineral had been mined in Israel for over 3,000 years.  The Malachite Room in the Hermitage Museum in Russia features "The Tazza," a large malachite vase, a gift from Tsar Nicholas II.


Care of Malachite Jewelry:

Soft and a little brittle, malachite is also sensitive to acids and heat. Therefore, jewery should not be steamed cleaned or undergo ultrasonic cleanings. Soft and gentle cleaning is recommended. Clean it by wiping it with a slightly damp, soft, clean cloth. Never submerge the stone in water.  As malachite can scratch easily, store malachite jewelry separately from other jewelry.  Also keep it out of constant sunshine due to it's ability to fade.  Spray perfume or hairspray before applying jewelry as these chemicals are harsh on the stones.



Folklore & Mystic Properties:

Malachite can be an alternative stone for May's emerald. Ancient mythical use included amulets to protect against the evil eye and to keep children safe from witches and other dangers.  Malachite is known as "the mirror of the soul" and thus reflects the inner feelings of the person wearing it; therefore, they advise, if you're in a negative mood, don't wear malachite.  On the positive side, malachite was said to get rid of nightmares and help wearer make good business decisions.


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Sources
www.gemsociety.org/info/gems/malachite.htm
www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachite
www.galleries.com/Malachite

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