Thanks to its unmistakable color and beauty, malachite is a gem often used by designers in jewelry.
Its irregular stripes and rings with varying shades of green give it a unique characteristic and incredible versatility for application both in jewelry and costume jewelry.
As it is an easy gem to find, it could not add value to the jewels, but the market behavior is very different.
Malachite is a gem used in high-priced jewelry produced with noble metals such as gold and is also used in much lower-priced jewelry produced with less noble metals.
Despite its fragility, it is a gem that provides intense shine and is also used in the matte state. However, the resources used to obtain gloss give it more resistance on the surface.
Usually malachite is obtained as a by-product of copper mining, which is the element that gives it its green color.
It is found as an opaque mass. Its main feature is the design formed by lists of different shades of green or rings with the same shade differences.
In the figures below we see malachite in its raw state and further down a sample of malachite transformed into a cabochon with stripes and rings. The contrasting shades of green are what give it this very different feature.
It is used in different types of jewelery or costume jewelry, adding value to the product.
Malachite is a very common mineral and can be confused with green agate and aventurine quartz. Although abundant in nature, it is a gem that also has an artificial version.
The artificial malachite is very similar to the natural one and has its origin in Russia.
Malachite is found in Australia, Mamibia, Russi (Siberia), United States (Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania), Zaire, Chile, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo), Zimbabwe, having as its main producer Republic Democratic Congo.
Some Characteristics of Malachite
It is a hydrated copper carbonate. Its prismatic crystals are not easily visible. In addition to being used in the jewelry industry as a gem, it is also used in the decoration of the environment, in the manufacture of objects, etc.
- Density: 3.8
- Refractive index: 1.65-1.90
- Crystalline form: monoclinic
- It is described as a secondary mineral, as it is created by chemical reaction between already formed minerals.
The less compact malachites can be better stabilized with epoxy resins, varnishes or waxes that also provide greater shine.
There are cases in which particles or pieces of malachite are united using special resins. This takes away the natural characteristic of the gem. However, it provides better resistance to cutting and grinding.
Many companies in China specialize in this type of treatment and development with gemstones such as malachite.
Despite its low hardness, it can be transformed into gemstones of various shapes and finishes. Even faceting can be done. It has low hardness: (3,5 to 4,0), but relatively high density (3,95).
Because it is a gem sensitive to heat and acids, to ammonia, it requires care in the preparation of the jewelry and also in its use.
So when you use malachite in your jewelry it is important to advise your customer about the care that should be taken with malachite.
These warnings can be made through small leaflets that accompany the jewelry. This pleases the customer.
All the great empires of the past such as the Roman, Egyptian, Greek, among others, used malachite as an amulet or for decoration of environments.
Some have characterized it as a healing gem.
However, due to the copper content it carries, it can be harmful to the skin when raw. Once polished, the wax or polishing material inhibits this harmful characteristic.
Some peoples claimed her as a bearer of fortune and power.
According to some mystics, it channels energies and directs them towards a single goal.
Weight and size
Malachite is easily found already cut in ios. The various sizes and formats available give versatility to the use of malachite in jewelry creation.
However, malachite in ios is also used for jewelry production combined with precious metals such as gold and silver.
Some designers use malachite in wires, cutting one or another stone in half or even applying cutting or forging details to add greater value to the gem.
Some designers use malachite in special shapes and unique cuts. This work is done with the aim of adapting the gem to the design of the piece and thus adding more value to the jewel.
Due to its low hardness, it is easy to cut and mold into different shapes. In the box below we can see a work of adapting and cutting the malachite fully adapted to the design and details of the pieces in a collection.
Unlike other gemstones that need special equipment to be cut, malachite has been prepared and cut by many goldsmiths using simpler resources and on the bench itself.
It is easy to saw and shape with bench tools.
However, experimentation is necessary for this type of work. This shape stoning that can be done in a simpliied way in malachite is due to its low hardness and ease of accepting shine.
As it is easily found in ready-made and varied formats, it facilitates the goldsmith who intends to give it a differentiated shape.
Sophistication in malachite cutting
The low hardness characteristic sometimes aids the more sophisticated cutting process in complex jewelry.
In the images above we can see the care with the cut and fit of the malachite in a very complex piece.
Both the designer and the lapidary need a lot of care for perfect fits.