Malachite has gained some social media popularity recently, with brands like Mejuri or Soru featuring the gem heavily in their designs. But why? What makes it so alluring that both millennials and gen-Z are completely smitten? Let’s discuss.
Here are top five things you should know about malachite. Caution: After reading, you might feel a sudden urge to purchase a piece of jewellery with this green semi-precious stone.
1. Malachite has been used for millennia
Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks had a special place in their jewellery and beauty boxes for malachite. Wait, beauty boxes? Yes, malachite used to be crushed up into a paste to create a green pigment for makeup like eye shadow; and in later years it was used in paintings. If you are ever walking around a museum and admiring a green landscape painting, chances are you are looking at some crushed up malachite. This was common practice up until the 1800s. Since then, synthetic green pigments such as verditer took over. This is the kind of knowledge experts use when dating paintings or spotting fakes posing as older masterpieces.
Beyond makeup and jewellery, malachite has also been used in interior design. A notable example that celebrates the beauty of this green gem is the Malachite Room in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The same place that had the Amber Room, which we’ve discussed in the article on amber jewellery.
2. Malachite used to be just a sideshow
This green gem was mined for copper ore extraction as its primary purpose. This involved a process called smelting, which essentially means using chemicals and heat to drive off other substances for just the metal to remain. However, people fell in love with malachite’s beautiful banding patterns and colour, and so its gemstone status was established as early as antiquity, which we covered in point one.
3. This gem thrives on your TLC
Unlike diamonds, which score 10/10 on Mohs scale of hardness, malachite comes at 3.5-4 – which means it is prone to fracture, it is brittle, and can be easily scratched or damaged. Furthermore, this gem is quite picky with how it allows you to clean it.
- Ultrasonic cleanse? Never.
- Steam cleaning? No.
- What if I use the same chemicals as I do for cleaning my silver and gold? Don’t even try, as malachite is easily damaged by anything acidic.
- Is it sensitive to temperature changes? Yes.
As you can see, malachite is quite temperamental. The best way to clean this green diva is with a very mild soap and water, making sure you clean it in a well-ventilated area, so the stone can dry quickly.
In terms of cleaning jewellery adorned with malachite, the trick is to see if your malachite has a transparent sealant that jewellers often put on the gem to prolong its staying power. This is why it’s best to avoid soap if at all possible, as this ensures the sealant stays intact. Simply moisten a towel, and gently cleanse your jewellery. It’s best to avoid dipping it in water.
4. Malachite is very powerful, according to healing crystal enthusiasts
If you believe in the spiritual powers of crystals and gems, this gem should definitely be on your radar. Believed to be the stone that pulsates positivity into any venture you take on, malachite has been keeping mediums, traditional healers and metaphysics experts company for millennia. During the middle ages, it was thought that the gem helped with vomiting, purging negative energy and easement of pain. Many were also convinced that malachite warded off evil spirits, especially from children.
In terms of problem-solving for the modern day, where we are more likely to be ghosted through a portable screen rather than attacked by an evil spirit, malachite is said to absorb radiation and electromagnetic smog. Not bad for a brittle gemstone.
5. Its dust is toxic, so don’t eat, drink or inhale it
Malachite can often be found bonded with other other minerals, including azurite, goethite, and calcite, and create beautiful unicorn-like double-gems. Aw, how nice. But just when you thought that malachite is friendly and keen on bonding with you too, you need to take a step back. When crushed, its dust is toxic (45% to 70% CuO). It should never be inhaled, ingested, or left on skin surfaces. Let’s go back to point one for a second – why have we stopped relying on malachite for paint pigments from the 1800s onwards? Exactly, because crushing it can be dangerous. If any traditional healers are offering malachite mixers or elixirs, run. Never drink or ingest anything like that. Having said that, when the gemstone is set in jewellery, the risk to wear it is non-existent. Unless you chew it and eat it, which as we discussed, you should not be doing. Have some salad, some broccoli or wild rocket instead.
Do you wear malachite? Do you believe in the metaphysical properties of this gemstone?