Locality - Kasompe, Democratic Republic of Congo Size – 195 x 128 x 87mm Weight – 1005g
This natural malachite specimen has a unique and attractive 'cavernous' formation with a deep, open vug in the centre of the specimen resembling a cave at the base of a rocky mountain. Lining the vug is a sparkling 'carpet' of dark forest green, sparkling silky malachite crystallization with subtly bumpy, botryoidal texture. The outer matrix of the piece is relatively lightweight and ash grey to sandy brown in colour. This specimen is a sizable piece weighing in just over a kilogram and stretching out to almost two-hundred millimeters in diameter, ideal for either the collectors cabinet or to use as a fascinating natural decor piece.
Malachite is a secondary copper carbonate hydroxide mineral typically found as crystalline aggregates or crusts, stalactites or botryoidal coatings on the surfaces of underground cavities. It forms at shallow depths within the Earth, in the oxidizing zone above copper deposits, when water containing CO2 or dissolved carbonate minerals seeps through copper ores (or vica versa). It is often found in association to azurite, chrysocolla, bornite, calcite, chalcopyrite, copper, cuprite, and a variety of iron oxides. In particular, it frequently pseudomorphs (chemically replaces) its closest associate: azurite. In appearance, it is opaque and usually a deep, saturated green in colour, ranging from bright, pastel green to yellow-tinted green to a dark green that is almost black. When cut or polished, it displays banding of light and dark layers with concentric rings like agates, stripes, dendritic 'leafy' patterns and other figurative shapes. When the bands form concentric rings it is called "bull's eye" malachite; specimens with this pattern are highly sought after. Malachite is arguably the finest green mineral on the Earth and is both instantly recognizable and wildly popular.
Malachite in History
Malachite is widely believed to be named after the Greek word 'malache' for 'mallow' because of its resemblance to the leaves of the mallow plant. Another theory is that the name could have originated in the Greek word, 'malakos', which means "soft", due to the fact that malachite is soft compared with other minerals (with a hardness of 3.5 - 4). Historically, it was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome where it was used for jewellery, amulets, sculptures, as a powder for eye shadow and a colouring pigment. Such pigment has been found in the paintings of Egyptian tombs and in paintings produced throughout Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries and is one of the oldest known green pigments ever to be used in paintings. Archaeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted to obtain copper at Timna Valley in Israel for over 3000 years, and in Egypt for the same purpose as early as 4000BC. It has been believed throughout history to be a protection against the evil eye and was often given to children to wear to protect them from having nightmares.
Since malachite is a relatively soft mineral, it can be easily scratched and should be handled with care. It also does not take kindly to heat, so keep it well away from ovens and other hot objects. If in need of cleaning, use cool water and dry with a soft cloth. Care for your crystals well, and these natural treasures can last a lifetime (and more)!
A note on Fakes, Treatments & Misrepresentations
Unfortunately, much synthetic malachite is produced today and used to make jewellery and small sculptures, often posed as the real stone or given trade names such as 'blue malachite', 'emerald malachite', 'siliceous malachite' and 'copper malachite'. It is typically made from reconstituted waste malachite 'dust', plastic, clay or glass. Thankfully, these fakes can be easily recognized by their unrealistic colours (often blue) and exaggerated, uniform stripes; simulated malachite does not have concentric rings. In person, it is lightweight and warm to the touch, or warms rapidly in the hand, whereas real malachite is heavy and cold.