Malachite is a common secondary mineral with a vivid green color; formed by the gathering of copper deposits, where it is usually accompanied by lesser amounts of azurite, that have a deep azure blue color. It is normally found in opaque green masses that are granular, knobby, and massive. Malachite’s name derives from the Greek word moloche meaning “mallow,” because it has the color of mallow leaves. Its luster ranges from vitreous to dull.
Chessylite is the name given to banded malachite and azurite occurring in Chessy, near Lyons France. It is also associated with copper, cuprite, calcite, chalcocite, chrysocolla, chalcopyrite, and limonite.
Malachite is sensitive to heat, acids, ammonia, and hot waters. It occurs in rounded nodules, grape shapes, cone shapes, or stalactitic and, rarely, encrusted slabs. Although Malachite is not very hard and not very resistant, it is popular for jewelry and ornaments.
Malachite was popular with the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for jewelry, amulets, and as a powder for eye shadow. It is used as pigment for mountain green. Victorians loved malachite and used to set it in gold.
The most important deposits of malachite used to be in the Urals near Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk). From there, the Russian tsars obtained the malachite for decorating their palaces, paneling the walls, and for beautiful inlaid work.
Today, it is found in copper-mining areas being the Shaba province of the Democratic Republic of Congo the major producer. Other sites are at Betzdorf, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany; Potosi in New South Wales, Australian; Redruth in Cornwall, England; and in the United States at Bisbee in Arizona, Stevens County in Washington, and the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New Mexico. Other mines also operate in France, Mexico, Zambia, Namibia, and Sweden.