Locality - Democratic Republic of Congo Size – 37 x 28mm Weight – 56g
This malachite egg has stunning contrast with near-black, deeply saturated forest green tones and lighter leaf green banding patterns. When turned in good lighting, it displays attractive, silky chatoyancy. It has been expertly carved and polished to a high lustre. It is almost entirely solid with only minor filling added to tiny vugs to complete it, unlike many polished malachite pieces on the market that are composed of many smaller conglomerate pieces.
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.
Crystal Balls in History
Crystal balls, also known as 'orbuculums', have been used by various different people for different reasons for thousands of years. The earliest use of a crystal ball can be first attributed to the Celtic Druids in 2000BC who divined the future and omens with beryl balls. Beryl was later replaced by clear quartz as the standard material from which they were crafted which is even more reflective and translucent. In the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder describes use of crystal balls by soothsayers. By the 5th century AD, scrying - whereby images communicating meaningful information are claimed to be seen in crystals - was widespread within the Roman Empire and was condemned by the early medieval Christian Church as heretical. In the middle ages, many diviners and fortune tellers - seers, wizards, gypsies and sorcerers - used crystal balls to see into the past and future and used for acts of clairvoyance (communication with the dead). Dr John Dee (1527-1608), Queen Elisabeth I consultant, was known for his use of the crystal ball in his works, which he believed acted as a communication device between him and angels. Crystal gazing was a popular pastime in the Victorian era, and was claimed to work best when the Sun is at its northernmost declination. Immediately before the appearance of a vision, the ball was said to mist up from within. Today, many new age followers and crystal healers believe that due to their shape, crystal ball emanate their healing energy in all directions and so are more effective and more powerful than other shaped crystals. To this day, they remain iconic and 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.