MINERAL OF THE MONTH: Fall 2007 Malachite

Recently, the museum was able to purchase some incredible museum-quality Malachite specimens to sell in the gift shop. One is pictured below. Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral. It forms in botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses, usually from the weathering of copper ores.

The stone’s name derives from the Greek word, molochitis, which means “mallow-green stone.” Until around 1800, pigments from this stone were used in making green paints.

Large quantities of malachite have been mined throughout the world including the Congo (Zaire), Tsumeb, Namibia, Ural Mountains, Russia, Mexico, England, and the U.S. There is archeological evidence that it has been mined for over 3,000 years in Israel, and for even longer in Egypt.

Malachite is a soft mineral with a hardness between 3.5 and 4, and a specific gravity of between 3.6 and 4. It is fragile and should be protected from scratching and sharp blows. When cutting or polishing malachite, you should be careful to protect your skin and not breath in the small microscopic splinters. You should also be careful when washing or cleaning malachite specimens because you can easily remove protective finishes.

Malachite is the anniversary gemstone for the 13th year of marriage. Some believe its metaphysical properties help to bring harmony into one’s life. It is also thought to enhance knowledge, patience, and to ward off danger and illness.

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