The green color (Greek "malache" = malwe), perhaps also the low hardness (gs. "malakos" = soft) gave malachite its name. When broken or polished, aggregates show a banding of light and darker layers with
concentric rings, rectilinear stripes or any figurative images, due to the shell-like structure. Larger monochrome pieces are rarely obtained. Translucent in thin slabs, otherwise opaque. The coloring substance is copper. Crystals are rare, mostly dense, fibrous, fine crystalline aggregates. In the rough, faint vitreous luster or matt, on freshly broken and polished surfaces silky luster. Malachite is sensitive to heat and acids, ammonia and hot baths.
Occurs as roundish nodules, grape-like, cone-shaped or stalactitic, rarely in platy crusts. Formed from copper-bearing solutions on copper ore deposits or in their vicinity. The best known deposits used to be in the Urals near Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk). The quarries supplied blocks of up to 20 + weight. This is where the Russian tsars extracted malachite to decorate their castles, for wall paneling and magnificent inlay work.
Today, besides Zambia, Shaba (Katanga) in Zaire is the most important malachite producer. Other deposits are found in Australia (Queensland, New South Wales), Chile, Namibia, Zimbabwe, USA (Arizona).
Malachite was already popular with the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a gemstone, amulet and, when ground into powder, as eye make-up. It was used as a dye for mountain green.
Despite its low hardness and sensitivity, malachite is a sought-after jewelry and decorative stone today. It is used as a cabochon, as a lightly cut table stone, for necklaces and especially for handicraft objects such as plates, boxes, ashtrays and sculptures. The cutter must express the natural rigidity of malachite as decoratively as possible. Eye-like concentric rings (called malachite peacock's eye) are popular. Due to its low hardness, malachite is easily scratched and sometimes matt. The surface can be hardened with synthetic resin.
The processing of malachite is somewhat problematic after it became known that it releases copper and nickel as dust into the environment.
larger pieces due to the disputed formation, but with small, non-banded stones with opaque green gemstones.