Ancient crystals and gemstones in culture and mythology: Magical Malachite

Crystals and gemstones have been a part of ancient cultures for millennia. They have been and continue to be used as decoration and to preserve the memories of the deceased. Malachite is one of the most treasured stones in civilizations from Egypt to China because it can be carved into beautiful decorations, used as a paint pigment, and ground into powder for medicinal purposes. and brings luck and peace.

What is Malachite?
Malachite is a beautiful green mineral found worldwide, used in jewelry and other decorative objects. This gemstone is made up of copper and carbonate hydroxide, making it one of many minerals called “carbonates” with the chemical composition Cu2CO3(OH)2. It is relatively soft with a Mohs hardness between 3.5 and 4.0 and is very sensitive to heat. The stone often forms in cracks within limestone, resulting in its two most common color variations: “banded” and “smooth”. Malachite is translucent and opaque, often a dark forest green color.

The stone can vary in appearance from transparent to opaque, with colors ranging from light blue, which is considered rare, to darker blue that you can often find around the world. Malachite is often polished into cabochons for use in necklaces or rings. The most common color is emerald green, but you can also find this mineral in shades of blue and yellow. Malachite’s banding pattern makes it easy to distinguish from other similar types and colors of minerals such as azurite and chrysocolla, which look very similar.

Malachite from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (JJ Harrison / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

How is Malachite formed?
Malachite is formed when igneous rocks and hydrothermal veins are altered in open spaces. Malachite is often formed as a secondary mineral in the oxidized zone of copper mines. It is often found coating limonite, azurite or other copper minerals. It has also formed in areas with lead and zinc sulfide ores, but it is not common in these environments.

When mineral stone is exposed to heat, pressure and water over time, it forms unique patterns. . This color is due to small amounts of various minerals contained in malachite.

Malachite in the walls of the old Outokumpu mine in Finland. (kallerna / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Where is Malachite mined?
Malachite is mined in many different locations around the world. The largest deposits of malachite are found in Russia and Zambia, where they produce beautiful carvings and jewelry.

Other countries with significant numbers include Australia, Chile, Congo, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, South Africa and the United States. Malachite can also be found near copper mines because it often forms when a chemical reaction occurs between water and other minerals such as chalcopyrite or azurite.

The most common way to mine malachite is surface mining, which involves removing the outer coating with explosives and then using heavy machinery to dig into the ore body.

Malachite can also be mined underground by tunneling into an existing mine or drilling into a new mine. This type of mining is used when malachite is near the surface but there is not enough room for surface mining. It often occurs along with other minerals, such as copper, zinc, lead, and silver.

Origin of Malachite
Malachite is one of the oldest gemstones used by humans for healing purposes. It is also an important stone in ancient culture and mythology. The stone gets its name from the Greek word “molochitus”, meaning “mallow”, a leaf of a similar color.

Malachite was first mined more than 5,000 years ago. Malachite was mined extensively at the Great Orme Mine in England 3,800 years ago, using stone and bone tools. The earliest known reference to the stone is in 1400 BC when it appears on a mural of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb. It became popular around 300 BC, when Greek scholars began writing about its existence and properties. That makes this stone popular in Europe and China.

In Egypt, they believed that malachite could bring peace to those who wore it as long as the wearer had no hostile intentions towards others. The ancient Greeks believed that this stone would protect you from illness if placed under the pillow or worn at all times with two “Greek” exceptions: during childbirth and when going into battle.

This green mineral has been around for thousands of years and continues to be popular today because of its natural beauty and supposed health benefits.

Malachite with blue kyanite and yellow lilies on blue stained wood. (Serena Tayyan/Adobe Stock)

Pigment, medicinal and spiritual uses of Malachite
Malachite has been known for its healing properties since ancient times. Because of its high copper content, malachite is excellent for making paints and green pigments. It was popular during the Egyptian and Roman empires because they could grind it into powder to make paint pigments or makeup. Today it is still used for this purpose, although there are modern and more efficient ways to produce paints and green pigments.

Malachite is also commonly used in acupuncture treatments. In traditional Chinese medicine, malachite relieves stomach pain and improves the immune system by stimulating phagocytosis. Bacteria, dead tissue cells, and small mineral particles are all examples of objects that can be phagocytosed.

Physically, malachite is known to help with problems such as asthma, bronchitis, fever, and inflammation. Placing a piece of this stone on a sick body can heal or prevent the condition from getting worse.

Malachite is also a protective stone especially during pregnancy and childbirth. It can help ease the transition into motherhood by providing strength and support while helping to protect both mother and child from negative influences or energies.

Some people add malachite to tea which they believe may have medicinal properties if consumed regularly. This practice dates back to ancient Egypt, where Egyptians prepared potions made from dried flowers, roots, and crystals during religious ceremonies.

Malachite can also protect against other types of dangers (such as fires) through its ability to absorb toxic fumes while remaining intact and undamaged. Instead, people prefer the beauty of this mineral over its limited properties. Many also believe that it can help protect against negative energy when worn regularly by absorbing and converting it into positive energy.

However, there is no scientific evidence that these practices provide any spiritual benefits such as protecting against negative energy, promoting positive change, stimulating creativity, etc.

An elephant carved from malachite. (Adrian Pingstone / Public Domain)

Malachite is perfect for making objects and jewelry
Malachite has a long history of use as an ornament. It is carved into many different shapes and forms, such as animals or flowers, because of its beautiful green color. In Russia, malachite was used to make crosses and other religious objects because it symbolized resurrection.

In Egypt, on the other hand, malachite was used to make small vases that were often coated with gold or silver and then decorated with precious stones such as lapis lazuli. These small containers contain oils that are believed to have magical properties, making them valuable because of their rarity.

Today, malachite is still used to create beautiful jewelry or carved into figurines or animals.

Other uses of malachite include:

Chisel jewelry such as rings or bracelets
Create decorative objects such as vases and plates
Carve garden sculptures to add color and texture

Malachite green oxalate powder contains traces of copper, which is toxic and can be released into the air when malachite is polished or carved. (W. Oelen / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Is Malachite poisonous?
Malachite is a copper carbonate mineral and therefore it contains small amounts of copper. When malachite is polished or carved, it can release these copper particles into the air, which can be harmful if inhaled over long periods of time. For this reason, it is essential to wear protective gear when working with this stone.

If the malachite you are using has not been polished or carved then there is no risk of inhaling copper particles and therefore the stone is likely to be safe to handle. Because malachite contains small amounts of metals such as arsenic and lead, children under 6 years old and pregnant women should avoid exposure to it.

​Malachite is a toxic mineral and you should be careful when handling it. If swallowed, it can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It can also irritate the skin and eyes, so it is important to wash your hands after handling this stone. In Russia, there have been cases of miners being poisoned by malachite due to handling the rock and inhaling its powder.

A slice of double stalactite malachite from Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Rob Lavinsky / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Divine properties of Malachite
Malachite is believed to have many sacred properties. The stone is said to help you connect with your intuition and better understand your emotions.

It is believed that malachite can help you change situations that are no longer working for you and aid in physical, emotional and mental detoxification. It cleanses the heart and mind, allowing you to let go of negative emotions and attachments that no longer serve you.

It is a gem of balance and connection. It can help you see cause and effect relationships between your thoughts, words, actions, motives, and feelings about yourself and those around you. It helps experience life as “unfinished” or not fully expressed. Malachite can help you find and manifest the missing pieces of the puzzle when this happens.

Additionally, it is said to help remove energy blockages, protect against negative energy and help calm and soothe the mind. Malachite is also a gem of transformation, meaning it can help you make changes in your life when you need them most. If you are feeling stuck or unable to move forward, malachite may be the right stone for you.

In short, malachite is a mineral that has been used by cultures for centuries. It is often crushed and mixed with oils to create eye shadow and paint pigments. As malachite’s use diminished, it became more valuable due to its scarcity and beauty. Today, people still wear rings or bracelets made from this beautiful stone because they believe that wearing it will bring good luck!

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