An impressive rough piece of malachite with chrysocolla from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa. Minute crystals which sparkle beautifully can be be seen if you manage to catch the light at exactly the right angle.
We see huge amounts of malachite during our regular trips to South Africa but finding pieces in nice condition can be a real challenge. Malachite is very soft mineral which grades just 2½ to 3½ on Mohs scale of mineral hardness hence it can be easily damaged. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world's major producers and although large reserves can also be found in Russia, these are gradually becoming depleted.
Malachite was used as an ore of copper for thousands of years and during the Bronze Age it was also crushed up so that it could be used as a green pigment. The Ancient Greeks and Romans valued it as a lapidary material and used it to carve vases and various other sculptures. It's still used for this purpose today and figurines of animals, spheres and pyramids are always popular. When used in jewellery it's almost always cut into cabochons.
Despite being a soft and porous mineral its unmistakable colour is resistant to fading. It's worth noting that the dust from malachite is highly toxic hence when stone's are being cut and polished, protective breathing equipment is used. It's also kept wet in order to minimise the amount of dust that's created.
Weight (grams): 700
Size (cms): 10.5 x 7.5