Australian Gemstones - Malachite

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Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral and is an important ore of copper. Malachite is a secondary copper mineral, most often forming as botryoidal, fibrous orstalagmitic masses. It is commonly found in fractures and spaces deep underground where the water table and hydrothermal fluids provide the means for chemical precipitation.

Malachite results from the weathering of copper ores and is often found together with azurite, chrysocolla, cuprite, goethite and calcite. It is typically associated with copper deposits around limestones, the source of the carbonate. Malachite has a hardness of 3.5 – 4.

The mineral was given this name due to its resemblance to the leaves of the Mallow plant.

Malachite was used as a pigment in green paints from antiquity until about 1800. Archaeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted in Israel for over 3,000 years. Since that time, malachite has been popular as both an ornamental stone and as a gemstone used in jewellery.