Green color Malachite derives its name from the Greek word ‘mallow’, meaning a green herb. Its banded light and dark green patterns are one-of-a-kind, and give it a unique ornamental look unlike that of any other gemstone. The light and dark green bands are so distinctive that malachite maybe one of the most easily recognisable minerals for the general public. Malachite that is found along with other violet-blue mineral azurite is called as Azurmalachite or Malachite azurite.
The Egyptians have been using malachite mineral, since 3000 AD for amulets and other jewelry and also as an eye shadow. Since ancient times this magnificient fine green crystal has been used in inlay work and in carvings of cathedrals and churches as it is found in huge boulders. Malachite is also a popular stone for jewelry design, especially Native American Southwestern jewelry. Malachite is also known by its trade name the peacock stone. In the Indian market the gem is popularly known as dana firang.
Malachite is a hydrated copper carbonate (Cu2 (OH)2 CO3). Its specific gravity is 3.74 to 3.95(average 3.80) and the refractive index range is between 1.65 and 1.90. Its hardness on Mohs scale is 4. Malachite is also found along with a blue color mineral called as azurite.
Malachite is indeed a very beautiful gem with a vivid green color with its dark to light green lines that run parallel to each other and even in concentric circles. The gem owes its color to the trace element copper.
With a hardness of just 4 on Mohs scale, cutting this gem is a difficult task. In spite of being soft, brittle and sensitive to heat and acid this gem has been used extensively in carvings, silver jewelry, inlaid work and as beads. It is usually carved in various shapes and forms like fish, idols, art work etc.
Although sensitive, if malachite is handled with care it can be very durable. When used in jewelry the gem is often custom-cut but mainly in a dome-shape. Being opaque this gemstone is never faceted.
Malachite has a massive habit and is largely found as big rocks. This also aids in big carvings.
This is an opaque gem.
Since green malachite mineral is found in plenty and has limitations in terms of its usability it is does not make for very expensive gemstones. Depending on the size, un-carved pieces may cost a few dollars. But carved pieces, depending upon the nature of work done on it, can cost up to hundred to thousand dollars. Companies like Mont blanc uses carved malachite in jewelry and various accessories like pens, key chains etc. It is known for selling malachite pens, malachite pendants and similar line of malachite jewelry.
Malachite is commonly sold as mens rings and bracelets. Malachite beads are also very known for their use in womens jewelry like malachite earrings, malachite rings. These jewelry are specially made in sterling silver rather than gold.
Ural Mountains in Russia used to be the major source of malachite and supplied this mineral to all of Europe. Today however the most of the malachite comes from Zaire and it is also found in Germany, Zambia and Australia.
Treatments are carried out on gemstone in order to lighten (for dark colored malachite rough) or darken the color (for light colored malachite rough). There are also some information found in the market about malachite rough being treated with certain chemicals to remove the surface blemishes, dirts and improve the overall clarity, in order to fetch a better price for the stone in the market. Heat, plastic bonding and epoxy resins are also some of the treatments that may be carried out on natural malachite gemstone to enhance its beauty.
Glass, plastic and synthetic malachite are some of the gemstones that can resemble malachite.
Many beautiful specimens of malachite crystals contain special combinations with other fine minerals, forming some of the most colorful assortments in the mineral world. Malachite may be found with a dark blue to violetish-blue mineral called azurite. This combination of the two gem materials is called azurmalachite or Malachite azurite.
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