The name malachite derives from the Greek Moloche meaning mallow, because the stone is the same color as mallow leaves. Malachite is copper based, and has been crushed and used as pigments for thousands of years. It has been valued as a gemstone since ancient times. Ancient Egyptians wore malachite in jewelry and used it for carving ornaments. They mined the stone in an area between Mt Sinai and the Suez as early 4000 BC. Egyptian hieroglyphs describe malachite as an integral part of their deities’ existence. The image of the sun was engraved in the stone to protect its wearer from evil spirits. Malachite was also carved into amulets and scarabs, and was thought to be a protective stone for children. The ancient Greeks and Romans also made vases and sculptures out of the stone. Later, the Russian czars used it as a decorative stone, quarrying vast deposits in the Ural Mountains to create magnificent structures such as the columns of St Isaacs Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Malachite is an ornamental stone and is used for items like tabletops, bowls, vases, and carved animals. It is not often used as a gem as it is a relatively soft mineral, rating a 3.5 to 4 on the hardness scale. Malachite is a stunning green (can be quite bright to dark green) carbonate of copper. The stone is also marked with bands of concentric striping in contrasting shades of basic green, from pale to almost black layers, and can show intricate patterns on its polished surface. Its exquisite color and softness makes it popular for carving. Malachite takes a good polish but because of its softness, should not be worn in rings.
Throughout time, malachite has been believed to help its wearer in a number of different ways. Ancient Egyptians used malachite amulets to ward off evil. During the middle ages, the stone was used as a cure for vomiting. Many different cultures also believed the stone protected children from evil spirits. According to legend, if a child needed dental work, attaching malachite to his or her neck would ease pain. Overall, it has been said that malachite has the power to detoxify one’s emotional body, release negative and painful emotions, and clear old traumas from this, as well as past lives. The stone is also believed to have the power to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and aid in childbirth.
Malachite occurs as rounded opaque green masses or encrustations and is common in the oxidized zone of copper deposits. The quality of malachite required for jewelry is mined in Eilat, Israel and the Ural deposits in Russia, which are now becoming depleted. Most large deposits of malachite are found in copper mining areas in the Shaba province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other sites include Betzdorf, Germany, Potosi, New South Wales, and Redruth, England. In the United States, malachite can be found in Bisbee, Arizona, Stevens County, Washington and the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New Mexico. Malachite is also found in France, Mexico, Zambia, Namibia and Sweden.