Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rock Review: Malachite

Today’s rock review focuses on the stunningly deep Malachite
Geology Buzz
Malachite is a mineral that results from a chemical combination of copper and carbonate in crystal structures and stalagmite formations. Malachite forms when copper ore weathers in the presence of limestone and other carbonates. It can often be found alongside Azurite, Calcite and Goethite. It has lovely color variance in vibrant rich greens ranging from forest green to tones of kelly green bordering on teal. Malachite can also feature interesting banded patterns which present a variety of unique and beautiful gemstones that are well suited for cabochon style jewelry.
Fun Facts
Malachite has been known to the world and used for about 3000 years. One of the oldest mine sources of the gemstone, dubbed “King Solomon’s Mine” in the Timna valley of Israel, is still in operation today. Mining may have begun at the site as early as the 5th millennium BC. Some Malachite is smelted, while the highest quality pieces are usually reserved for silver jewelry.
Malachite got it’s name from the Greek form of the word for the Mallow Plant since the color of the stone so closely resembled the color of the leaves from this plant. The name also could come from the Hebrew word for King, since Malachite is considered to be the stone of royalty in many ancient Middle Eastern cultures.
For many centuries, Malachite was also used as pigment for green paints. So, keep in mind next time you visit an Art Museum that you may be viewing Malachite when you look at paintings that were created before the 1800’s. However, it was eventually replaced by other synthetic materials whose colors were less prone to fading due to sun exposure and the presence of acids.
When caring for your Malachite jewelry, be sure never to use chemical cleaners as the stone is very susceptible to damage from chemicals and acids. A mild soap and water rise along with polishing with a soft cloth will do the trick.

Malachite and Azure pendant with Jade bead

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