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Malachite may not be a mainstream gemstone, but this little-known mineral is one of the most beautiful of all green gemstones. With its banded patterns and distinct, stunning color, malachite is as beautiful as any gemstone out there.
From affordable pieces to high-end luxury jewelry, malachite offers something for everyone. It’s a favorite of gemstone collectors as well as designers with an eye for the unique and beautiful.
You’re probably here because you want to know more about this intriguing gemstone. So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know to help you buy your own malachite jewelry.
What is Malachite?
Malachite is a copper carbonate mineral that occurs in distinct shades of green. Apart from the obvious lapidary uses, malachite was valued as an ore of copper and as a pigment. The first uses of malachite can be traced back several thousand years back, to ancient Egypt.
Malachite’s formation often occurs in limestone and is often found with other minerals such as azurite, turquoise, calcite and copper. One of the best malachite hybrids is azurmalachite, which is the blending of malachite and azurite.
Malachite is easy to identify as it is commonly found with concentric circles. The circles can be identified by the varying shades of green, from nearly white to almost black.
The mineral can be found in a number of locations around the world, but some noteworthy sources are Russia, Namibia, Brazil, China, Australia and Arizona.
Evaluating Malachite Color
Malachite is only found in green, but its shades can range from light to dark green. As mentioned above, it usually has a banded pattern and sometimes displays eyes, which all add to the intriguing look of the gemstone. Malachite gets its color from copper.
When blended with azurite, malachite has a unique look. Used in jewelry, azurmalachite exhibits stunning patterns of vivid blue and green, the signature colors of azurite and malachite respectively.
Malachite Gemstone Clarity
Malachite is an opaque gemstone with a dull luster. However, when polished, the gemstone displays an attractive vitreous or silky luster.
Choosing Malachite Cut
In order to cut malachite, gemstone cutters take into account its stripes and natural pattern. The gemstone is then cut to showcase these patterns.
Typically, malachite is cut en cabochon but it can also be used in carvings such as for figurines and cameos. Sometimes, malachite is sliced into discs and used to create beautiful jewelry. Some jewelers like to work with free form malachite to create one-off pieces that celebrate the natural look of the stone.
Malachite is hardly ever faceted. Due to its softness and distinct cleavage, the gemstone doesn’t lend itself well to being cut into fancy shapes.
Synthetic, Treated and Imitation Malachite
Malachite is not typically treated to enhance its color although wax coating treatments are sometimes applied to enhance the durability of the stone.
There are synthetic and fake versions of malachite on the market, which looks identical to the real gemstone. These include plastic, glass as well as reconstituted malachite (made from crushed malachite mixed with a binder and then polished to resemble solid malachite). Always check with your jeweler as to the origin and possible treatments of the gemstone. Reputable retailers should always disclose this information to you.
Malachite is a minor gemstone but the term ‘minor’ doesn’t reflect on the quality and beauty of the gemstone itself as it is one of the most beautiful of all green gemstones. Because of its relative softness as a gemstone, malachite is not ideal for daily wear.
Malachite can be made into most types of jewelry but care must be taken when wearing malachite rings and bracelets as these are high exposure areas and damage to the gemstone is more probable.
If you’re after a malachite ring, look for one that has been set in a protective setting, like a halo or bezel. These settings offer a buffer of protection between the gemstone and any hard impact it may be exposed to.
Our readers sometimes ask us if malachite is a good choice for an engagement ring. While we don’t recommend it due to its lower hardness, it is a beautiful choice and if taken care of, it may last for a long time.
While malachite suits any metal color, it is particularly beautiful when set in yellow gold. The gold and green complement each other perfectly, creating a vintage, sophisticated vibe that looks great on anybody.
Malachite jewelry can be found in a range of prices to suit all budgets. Because of its unique look and gorgeous patterns, malachite and its hybrids are often chosen by designers for exclusive high end jewelry.
The ultimate price of a piece of malachite jewelry is determined not just by the gemstone but also by the materials used in its creation, as well as the quality of craftsmanship and the name of the designer.
Malachite Durability and Care
Malachite is a relative soft gemstone, only ranking at 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. It has a brittle tenacity and distinct cleavage, which makes malachite susceptible to scratching, chipping and fracturing. However with proper care, malachite jewelry can last a very long time. One main benefit is that malachite is not known to fade in color, and will retain its vivid hue.
Here are some tips on how to take care of malachite jewelry:
- Because of its softness, malachite can easily be scratched even by dust. Take care when wiping dry malachite as this can cause scratches and reduced luster. The best way to clean malachite is by using a mild liquid soap and warm water. For clinging dirt or grime, use a soft toothbrush or cloth to gently clean the stone. Rinse thoroughly to remove any soapy residue. Once washed, dry the jewelry well prior to wearing or storing, as this will keep it free from water stains.
- Malachite is sensitive to heat so keep away from hot water, sunlight and sources of heat.
- Avoid exposing malachite jewelry to harsh or abrasive cleaners and chemicals. Keep away from household detergents, cosmetics, perfumes and hairspray.
- It’s best not to use ultrasonic cleaners to clean malachite, as the intense vibrations can cause fractures and damage.
- Take off malachite jewelry when engaging in vigorous physical activities like gardening, playing sports, swimming or climbing.
- When storing malachite, place it in a dust-free fabric-lined jewelry box or in a clean pouch. Store is separately from other gemstones and metals as these can scratch malachite.
Malachite Meaning and Symbolism
Malachite has long been valued as an amulet, a stone that offers protection for various kinds of evil and negative energies. In ancient times, the gemstone was worn to ward off black magic and witchcraft. It was believed that if danger was present, the malachite amulet would fracture and in this way alert the wearer of the danger.
It is also believed to assist with fears and worries, such as the fear of flying. Simply holding a malachite gemstone will make a person feel calm and provide a relaxing environment. It helps to negate depression and stress, providing emotional balance and strength.
On a physical level, malachite is believed to be able to relieve menstrual cramps and assist during labor. It is also thought to help with asthma, issues related to the joints and spine, malaria and digestive problems.
Malachite is the gemstone for the 13th marriage anniversary and makes a great gift to celebrate this milestone.
*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Where to Buy Malachite Jewelry
Malachite is not a mainstream gemstone and it may be hard to find malachite jewelry at your local stores. Searching online is probably your best bet to find a quality piece of malachite jewelry.
Etsy has a good range of malachite jewelry, especially in their Handmade section. You can check out their range here.