Malachite — is not hard gemstone (3,5-4/10, according to the Mohs Scale of hardness), having a green color, which is chemically, nothing but the carbonate of a copper, which has been used chiefly for the ornamental purposes in the ancient times, however, due to its suitability for polishing, is used in jewelry nowadays.
Malachite derived its name, thanks to its similarity with the leaves of Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) plant, whence its Greek names “moloclie” or “manacle,” meaning “marsh-mallow.” By the way, Pliny the Elder and Theophrastus called it “false emerald,” due to its deep green color.
History of Malachite
There are many evidences, that the Malachite has been used by prehistoric men at least 9 – 11000 years ago. The excavations, made in Persia (modern Iran) helped to confirm this fact, due to the fact, that a pendant, made of Malachite, dated approximately 8000 B.C. has been found in in Shanidar Valley (Northern Iraq), whereas the beads made of Malachite, dated 7000 B.C. have been found in the vicinity of Jericho (a town in Palestine), say nothing of the Egyptian tombs.
By the way, the powder, made of Malachite, mixed with the water and resin, has been used as an ink to create eye shadow. Thus, the Malachite has become the very substance, which, subsequently, has helped to the ancient Egyptians to invent paints.
The Great Discovery
The discovery of the Malachite deposits in Nizhny Tagil and in the city of Bogoslovsk in the Urals, in Russia, became the crucial moment in the history of Malachite. Since that moment, the malachite has ceased to be a unique and rare mineral, due to the fact, that the deposits of Malachite have been found in an immense abundance in those mines.
The specimens of Malachite, mined here, were of too vast size, that they have been used to produce jewelry boxes, vases, tables, doors and even columns. Thus, the specimen weighted approximately 6000 pounds, was delivered to St. Petersburg as a present to Catherine II.
Henry G. Smith in his book “Gems and Precious Stones,” published in 1896, says that at the London Exhibition, held in 1851, there were exhibited the vases and doors, made of Malachite, that made a splash and have illustrated, that Malachite could be used for the ornamental purposes (formerly, Malachite was used for copper smelting).
This great discovery has helped the Russians to obtain the skills in the producing of articles made of Malachite. The skills of treatment Malachite have been used exclusively in Russia, until the Malachite deposits haven’t been discovered in other parts of the world.
In spite of its first discovery, Malachite is also mined in Australia in Queensland, in the United States (the only specimens from Arizona are suitable for jewelry purposes), in several locations in Africa and South America, chiefly in Mexico. However, to this day, the principal deposits of Malachite located in the Urals, Russia, though, these mines are almost exhausted.
Value of Malachite
The value of Malachite has decreased, critically, after the discovery of the abundant deposits in the Urals, however, today, it is used in jewelry, combined with other gemstones. For instance, the mine, located in Morenci, Arizona, consists of Malachite along with Azurite, that produces a splendid combination of green and pink, which is pleasant for an eye and suitable for unique jewelry.
However, formerly, Malachite has been estimated in the highest degree. But the same situation might be traced in regards to each gemstone. The fashion, the technologies, the taste,— all these factors, combined, are doing their job.
Healing and Magical Properties, attributed to Malachite
In the Middle Ages, before the discovery of abundant deposits of Malachite, this gemstone has been endowed with sacred significance. It was believed, in XVI century, that the Malachite is a pretty good anesthetic, thus it has been used internally or, applied to the injured parts. It was used as a purgative remedy, as well.
It was considered that the Malachite facilitates proper growth of children and that it protects children against many diseases, therefore, it was considered, that the Malachite is a strong mascot, which each child owes to wear.