Malachite is a copper mineral well known for its distinctive green color. It can vary from bright greens, to yellow-greens, to a nearly black shade of green. For its coloring alone, it has been used as a gemstone and as a sculpting material for thousands of years. Nowadays, people use it as beads for jewelry or as decorative pieces.
As a secondary mineral of copper, Malachite is formed when its primary copper mineral is altered by another mineral. It manages to maintain its green color–and it does not fade over time nor lightens when it is exposed to light. This is why it was also used as a coloring agent many, many years ago too.
While Malachite is best known for its green color, it can be distinguished by its concentric rings as well. These stripes set it apart from other minerals or stones and can be easily identified from other green-colored stones because of its eye-like rings. These markings are more commonly known as “peacock’s eye.”
While the first culture of the vibrant, green stones was originally mined in ancient Egypt, large quantities of it can be found worldwide. It can be found in Russia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zaire, Australia, Romania, Germany, Chile, Mexico, Gabon, Israel, Mexico, and Chile. However, the best quality Malachite stones are currently mined from South Africa. It is also available in US localities such as Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Despite the number of areas that Malachite can be mined from, this is still considered to be a rare mineral all across the globe. It is best known as a stone for good fortune, prosperity, and protection.
What is Malachite made of?
Malachite is formed in the shallow depths of the Earth as a result of the weathering of copper ores. It can be mined just above the oxidizing zone on top of copper deposits. One will likely find if forming within limestones and other associated minerals such as azurite, bornite, copper, calcite, and chalcopyrite, cuprite, and other iron varieties.
The only property that sets Malachite apart from these associated minerals is its green color. These stones get their striking green color from a hydrous copper carbonate compound that can be compared to the smooth copper tarnish found in turquoise. What affects its lightness and shade is the copper that is present in it. The more water there is in copper, the lighter the resulting Malachite will be. Alternatively, less water in copper means a darker shade of Malachite. In some cases, there will be hardly any water available, resulting in a black striping that produces that darkest shades of Malachite.
The History and Etymology of Malachite
There are various theories as to the etymology of its name. Some claim that Malachite is derived from the Greek word, “malache,” which directly translates to “mallow,” a tree that has remarkably vivid green leaves. Another theory is that the name originates from another Greek word, “malakos” which means “soft.” This is because, unlike most minerals, Malachite is considered as a soft stone, making it inherently difficult to polish.
Despite its name originating from the Greeks, Malachite has a rich history that can be traced back to 4,000 BC in Ancient Egypt at the Sinai Peninsula.
The ancient Egyptians would pulverize malachite and use them as sacred palettes to make Udju. This would then be used by the upper class as eye makeup that they believe would protect them from evil and the goddess Hathor. Hathor, who was known to the Egyptians as the goddess of beauty, joy, love, and women, was also dubbed as “the Lady of Malachite.” Cleopatra, herself, was believed to have used malachite kohl as her favored eyelid palette. In fact, she was buried with a large vase of it so she can use it in her afterlife.
Alternatively, ancient Egyptians would also use these ornamental stones to make jewelry and art. Archeologists have unearthed Egyptian tombs that had paintings using Malachite in its walls.
It’s not just the Egyptians who would use Malachite for paintings. Plenty of Renaissance paintings in the 15th century were found to have pigments of Malachite in them. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was also painted with malachite-based paints.
Moving forward to Victorian times, it is recorded that Malachite would often be dangled in baby cribs to ward off evil and danger. It was also believed that Malachite encouraged a more peaceful sleep for infants and adults alike.
On the other side of the globe, in Russia during the Romanov dynasty, Malachite was used as a display of opulence and grandeur. This was a time when high-quality Malachite was discovered in the foothills of the Urals. Slabs of these were then used to adorn two of the Romanov’s palaces, used as the main material for pillars, columns, and encased walls. Empress Alexandra, the wife of Tsar Nicholas 1, was said to have been fond of Malachite. She had it used as the main material for her drawing rooms, fireplace trimmings, and other decorative pieces in most of the Romanov’s castles.
Eventually, Malachite mines in Russia were depleted. Now, Ural Malachite stones are no longer mined. Instead, the most significant source of quality Malachite today can be found in Africa. There are also small amounts of these minerals mined from Australia, France, and Arizona.
Malachite Uses and Symbolism
To date, Malachite continues to hold decorative and metaphysical uses. Here are some of its most general uses today.
- Malachite as jewelry
Its vivid green color makes Malachite a popular gemstone used for various forms of jewelry. When cut into cabochons, it can easily be created as beads for pieces of jewelry. It matches well with silver, gold, and copper materials.
However, being one of the softer gems, a Malachite stone can be prone to scratches and wear and tear. This is why it is advised for these stones to be used for special occasions instead of for items that are used for daily wear. Brooches, pendants, earrings–these are just some of the jewelry pieces that you can make from Malachite.
With the right style and jeweler, these stones can be the perfect pieces to give as gifts as well. It often symbolizes friendship and loyalty.
- Malachite as decorative pieces
On top of being used as body adornments, these are also widely received as design pieces. Like the tsars in Russia, these are great decorative elements to any house. Of course, while using them as pillars are hardly an economical choice, small sculptures and vases can be done from it. These can be tumbled and sliced to create symmetrically-pleasing and vibrantly colored boxes for storing pieces of your jewelry in as well.
Although deposits in the Ural Mountains of Russia are no longer mined, these remain to be popular sculptural materials in the region even to-date.
- Malachite as a pigment
One of the earliest uses for Malachite was for the mineral pigment in green paint. In fact, it is best known as the oldest source of green pigment, getting its color from the natural deposits of copper ore. These paints may vary in color and are highly sensitive to acids.
This use for Malachite can be added to permanent oil paintings. What makes it a great option is its insensitivity to light. However, the requirements for a good Malachite-based pigment is for the grinding to be coarse. When ground too finely, the coloring becomes too pale for practical uses. Most suppliers offer these natural pigments in two grades: fine and medium grounds. This dictates the lightness or strength of the pigment.
Note that it is recommended that you don’t breathe in Malachite in its polished form as it is toxic.
5. Malachite as a symbol for physical healing
Malachite is also known to be a potent remedy for female issues, such as menstrual cycle regulation and for easing cramps. It is also mildly popular for use during labor to facilitate a smoother delivery. In this regard, some people in the profession also call it a “Midwive’s stone.”
On top of being used for female problems, it is also known to relieve symptoms for colds, malaria, asthma, and even Parkinson’s disease. However, it is not recommended that one intake Malachite as an elixir.
6. Malachite for balancing emotions and spiritual growth
Malachite is an in-demand stone in the spiritual community. It is well-known for its transformative uses that encourage change and emotional risks. To the wearer, it is said to champion freedom of speech and alleviates feelings of shyness.
More than this, Malachite’s green energy is also used to cultivate more self-love for the wearer. In some instances, it is also believed to activate the Third Eye Chakra, the chakra in charge of psychic vision and intuition.
7. Malachite for meditation
Another popular use of Malachite is for meditation. It is said to draw out deeper reflection and spiritual growth when worn or held during meditation. It is also a well-known tool for grounding, deriving from the colors that are in touch with the Earth.
For information about our current inventory and availability of Malachite and other items call us at 612-408-9924. Please leave a message if we are unable to answer. We will get back to you asap.