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Malachite Properties, Facts and Photos

polished green malachite mineral

1. What is Malachite?
2. History of Malachite
3. More Malachite Facts
4. Malachite Healing Properties
5. Article Pictures
6. Shop Malachite

What is Malachite?

Malachite is the oldest ore of copper.  It occurs close to the surface and its presence often indicates deeper deposits of native copper are close by.

An ore is a rock that contains a significant amount of a natural mineral with valuable elements that can be extracted.

The extraction process from malachite involves heating the stone in conjunction with carbon.  This is done at a relatively low temperature over a short period of time. malachite mineral an ore of copper

Malachite often occurs alongside or in conjunction with azurite.  The chemical formula for both minerals is almost identical.  They're produced through the weathering of copper ore deposits.

When both minerals combine the material is known as azurite-malachite.

The reason malachite is green and azurite is blue is because the copper in malachite is more highly oxidized than in azurite.

Over time and under the right conditions one mineral turns into the other.  This transformation is known as pseudomorphism which literally means 'false form'.

During this process one mineral takes over another.  The malachite replaces the azurite but the shape and crystal faces of the original mineral remain unchanged.

The process of pseudomorphism can vary greatly.  One example is petrified wood.  In this material the original organic structure is slowly replaced by silica.

The History of Malachite

Although the use of malachite can be traced back to 8000 BC, it didn't start being used as an ore until 5000 BC.  Until then, copper which was the only metal known to humans would have come from deposits of native copper.

Malachite was used as an ore of copper throughout antiquity.

The ancient Egyptians had mining operations in place in the Sinai Peninsula in 4000 BC.  This area was Egypt's main source of copper for thousands of years.

Many ancient civilizations used malachite for decorative purposes.  It's also believed to have been the first green pigment.  This led to it being used as a colouring agent in glazes, glass and cosmetics.

In China green pigment can be traced back as far as the Shāng people [c.1500 BC].  A tiger carved from malachite found in the tomb of a King's consort was dated to around the same period.

In western China the colour green can be found in many paintings from the ninth and tenth centuries.  It didn't become popular in Europe until around the 14th century.

In ancient Egyptian tomb paintings the colour green first appeared around 2613 BC.

Malachite beads found on the Euphrates River have been dated to 7000 BC.

malachite mineral included with azurite on display in a museum display cabinet

When used as a pigment malachite must be coarsely ground down.  This is because if particles are too small the colour will be much paler. 

The Pharaoh Amenhotep III used over five hundred kilos of mafek for inlay work in the Temple of Karnak.  Mafek was a collective name for a variety of green stones one of which is believed to have been malachite.

Sorting objects into groups is an instinctive human characteristic.  For thousands of years rocks and minerals were grouped according to colour and visible properties.

Records from the earliest system show just two groups.  These were 'stones' and 'earths'.  Rocks and minerals were put into one group or the other depending on how they reacted to fire and water.

In the writings of Theophrastus the ancient Greek philosopher, all bright green coloured copper minerals were labelled as chrysocolla.

Pliny the Elder Roman author and naturalist suggested the name was more likely to refer to malachite.  If true, that means it may not have included the mineral known today as chrysocolla.

In his works Naturalis Historia Pliny also refers to a group of green coloured stones as being different varieties of smaragdus.  Many had little in common.  Smaragdus is an ancient name for emerald.
polished malachite mineral
The group to which he's referring is believed to have included malachite, types of sapphire, turquoise, jasper and possibly even glass.

He wrote "copper smaragdus from Cyprus is associated with the colour blue".  This seems to be a reference to the mineral azurite.

In the early 1800's two enormous deposits of malachite were discovered in Russia.  There was enough of the mineral to supply the entire country with copper for around 170 years.

Many large slabs were polished for ornamental purposes.  It quickly became the stone of choice for the rich and famous.

Today several of Russia's most important buildings are adorned with malachite.  One is The Malachite Room at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg which features over 200 tons.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg was built over a period of 40 years starting in 1818.  It features marble, granite, lapis lazuli and eight massive green malachite pillars.

very large malachite cup on display in the Hermitage Museum

More About Malachite

On Mohs scale of hardness malachite grades 3.5 to 4.  As well as being a very soft mineral it's also porous so must be protected from moisture.  Sudden exposure to heat can affect its colour or cause cracks. Malachite should not be allowed to get wet.

Despite being soft and fragile malachite has always been popular as a carving material.  When used as a gemstone it's cut as a cabochon.

The dust from malachite is highly toxic.  Whilst being cut and polished protective breathing equipment must be worn.  Once polished, stones are completely safe to handle.

It's good practice to wash your hands after touching a freshly cut or very dusty specimen.

Younger collectors should be advised not to put stones in their mouth or to get malachite wet. 

Malachite Healing Properties

Malachite is a stone of transformation that's believed to be useful for releasing emotional trauma and past wounds.  It can help break negative patterns of behaviour and bring positive change.

It's associated with emotional balance, inner peace, and self-expression.

Malachite has protective qualities so can be used for shielding purposes to protect against negative energy.

A stone of spiritual evolution, it enhances the connection to higher realms of consciousness. It's associated with the heart chakra so promotes love, compassion and empathy.

Malachite is a source of positivity and optimism. It imparts joy and a zest for life, transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and success.

It provides the motivation that enables you to strive for excellence in order to reach your full potential. It inspires resilience and the ability to deal with obstacles effectively.

When used for manifestation malachite can help bring desires and dreams into reality. With physical contact it amplifies the manifestation process, helping you to achieve goals with greater ease.

Meditating with malachite brings feelings of comfort and familiarity. When held, it creates an empathic link to the subconscious.  It brings forward memories and emotions from the past that are associated with happy moments.

Malachite acts as a catalyst amplifying positive emotions and bringing back detail that has long been forgotten.  Through imagery and thought processes it makes happy memories more vivid and accessible.

Due to its association with copper malachite should never be used as an elixir.  This is water that's been infused with natural minerals to extract their healing properties.  The water is then consumed.

Article Pictures

The malachite in the first and fourth picture comes from our collection.

The second picture is native copper with malachite. Photo courtesy of Stan Celestian.

The malachite in the third picture is housed in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Photo by Stone Mania.

The malachite vases are on display in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Most photos are clickable and redirect to the original image.

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