Malachite is one of the oldest gemstones known to man, and it’s discovery led to an incredible global change. Its thought that the name malachite comes from the Greek word for soft, while its beautiful green colour relates back to the mallow plant.
Origin and Supply of Malachite
Malachite is one of the most important minerals in our history – around 4000BC it was discovered that heating malachite reduced it to native copper, and it was from here that the search for metallic ores began. This led to the first real industry of the ancient world. Malachite deposits are becoming increasingly rare and many of the original sources are all but depleted. But it can still be found in smaller deposits worldwide, with most coming from Israel and Africa.
Malachite is classed as a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral with an opaque, banded green, monoclinic crystal structure (meaning it has three different, unequal crystal formations). Malachite measures 3.5 - 4 on the Mohs hardness scale, so while it’s great in jewellery, you do need to guard against hard blows and scratches.
If you lived in the Middle Ages, you may well have used malachite to protect yourself against the evil eye and black magic. And if you lived in Ancient Russia and drank from a malachite goblet, you may have heard more than you were used to – it was believed you’d be able to understand the language of animals!