This gemstone is a basic copper carbonate, vividly banded with two or more tones of green. Its name is probably derived from malache, the Greek word for "green" or "herb," for its color, or possibly from the Greek word malakos ("soft") for its low hardness. The beautiful green color comes from the copper contained in the stone (which is an altered form of copper). Water presence also affects the shade: more water in the copper makes it lighter, and less makes it darker. The absence of water makes it black. In fact, the green patina you see on weathered copper roofs is a form of malachite. The gemstone is a chemical twin of azurite, and can form from azurite as it oxidizes. For this reason, the two are commonly found together, sometimes transitioning seamlessly from one to the other.
Because of its low hardness, malachite is fragile, easily scratched and susceptible to becoming dull. Protect it from sharp blows and avoid dramatic temperature changes. Washing malachite in water will remove its protective polish, and be aware that it is easily damaged by acids. Never clean malachite with any product containing ammonia. If you attempt to cut or carve the stone, be aware that its dust is highly toxic!
Malachite is said to aid in the regeneration of body cells and lend extra energy. It is believed that gazing at malachite or holding it relaxes the nervous system and calms stormy emotions. Malachite is said to bring harmony into one's life, and give knowledge and patience. Zaire is the major source of malachite, but Chile, Zimbabwe, Australia, the U.S.A. (Arizona), France and England also produce this gemstone. See Also: