Malachite is a richly colored, carbon-based gemstone of remarkable value for an opaque stone. Bands of intense greens and nearly black mark the stone in swirl and striated patterns. The green comes from the presence of copper. The luster of Malachite is dull to translucent silky owing to the dense crystal formation. The feel of the stone is unique, almost seeming soft to the touch, which is due to the low Mohs Scale rank. The clearest of Malachite is similar to the deepest green jade called nephrite. Malachite is sometimes found alongside azurite, another copper rich mineral that appears in vibrant bluish purple.
Malachite rough is most often found in smooth, bulbous shapes, as stalactites, or with azurite in sharper crystal-like formations. In stalactites the patterns of light and dark greens are similar to the age rings of a tree trunk and are often cut into slabs for display. The whorl and swirl designs in black and green banding of Malachite make it ideal of rings, pendants, earrings, and men’s tie and cuff decorations. The best cuts for this blended stone are smooth, including high-domed cabochon, square, rectangle, triangle, and free-forms. Dangles and beads are often made into teardrops, tubes, donuts or rings, and ovals, and are generally set in silver. Very little Malachite is faceted, as the beauty of this opaque stone lies in its various green banding designs.
The use of Malachite has been with man since it was ground as a pigment in paints in the 1800s. One of the most large-scale uses was for the Malachite Room in Russia’s Hermitage Museum where the architect Alexander Briullov created immense pillars in the Russian mosaic technique, rivaling the famous Amber Room of the Winter Palace. The lure of Malachite is matched by its abundance and versatility, pairing onyx and other opaque and semi-lustrous stones for all season jewelry wear.