Malachite is one of the May stones mascots

Malachite, the stone of May has its greatest efficacy in the last spring month. A belief exists that if a person wears a malachite talisman in May, he can get rid of insomnia and melancholy forever. Strangely enough, the gem malachite does not protect the zodiacal sign, but only helps the wearer to avoid trouble and feel better. However, astrologers assert that malachite will also suit other zodiacal signs – everybody will receive protection from ill-wishers, stop succumbing to quick mood swings and become less impulsive. Malachite will be particularly suits those who are trying to find their life purpose and occupation.

Malachite is one of the most beautiful minerals. According to Alexander Fersman (1883-1945), it is "a stone of bright, lush, cheerful and at the same time silky-sweet green". Its coloring reflects a palette of green tones from light green with blue (turquoise) to deep, dark green.

The name malachite has ancient Greek roots, “malakos” means 'soft'. Traditionally, four different kinds of malachite have been identified:

-- Turquoise malachite, also known as ribbon malachite or corpus malachite. This gem has a peculiar ribbon pattern of green colour; jewellers esteem it as a number-one stone.

-- Curly, sometimes called “silk” malachite, used to be considered a gemstone. This variety of mineral has blue or turquoise hue.

-- Velvet or corduroy malachite. A velvet-like graining is visible on these stones; they are more difficult to polish and are therefore less valuable.

-- Fine-patterned malachite is the most amazing. The pattern of the gem can resemble the crown of a tree, thick and varied.

In ancient times, it was believed that the magical properties of the stone had the most striking effect on health. In Ancient Russia, they believed not only in the healing properties of malachite, but in its capability to make dreams come true. Malachite vases were popular among wealthy people -- it was believed that the one who drank from such vase understood the language of animals or even become invisible. People wore rings with rough malachite as a talisman against the plague. Malachite absorbed negativity, helped to strengthen the nervous system, eliminated imbalance and free the mind from resentment. The ancient people of Egypt and Greece used the mineral as a kind of amulet for protection against evil forces. Patterns on the stone, or "malachite eyes", reinforced the belief in protection against the evil eye. Malachite was used to decorate buildings and halls. In ancient Egypt, they made cameos, amulets and jewellery from malachite that was quarried on the Sinai Peninsula. However, this mineral became famous after the discovery of large malachite deposits at the end of the 18th century in the Urals*. Malachite was mined in large quantities at the Ural copper deposits. In the 19th century, up to 80 tons of the rough mineral from with light green to satin dark green colour were extracted annually from the Mednorudnyanskoye and Gumishevskoye mines.

In 1835, a huge block of malachite weighing 250 tons was discovered, and in 1913 one more block was found - it weighed more than 100 tons. Small pieces of malachite of low quality were used to produce magnificent colours. A.E. Fersman wrote that "... before the revolution in Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Tagil one could see the roofs of many mansions painted with malachite in a beautiful bluish-green colour”. High quality malachite was used for making vases, bowls, tabletops and even columns. Russian artisans developed a way of creating malachite items called the "Russian Mosaic", whereby pieces of malachite were sawn up into thin plates and used to choose an image that was glued to metal or marble.

The known malachite deposits in the Urals, the Mednorudnyanskoye and Gumishevskoye, are almost completely depleted. Large deposits of malachite are discovered in Zaire, in the south of Australia, and in the USA, but in colour and beauty of patterning, the malachite from foreign deposits cannot be compared to the Urals’ ones.

The museum Collection repository presents a variety of items made of the precious mineral: vases, bowls, snuffboxes, caskets, writing sets, frames, blotters and other items - all of them seem to be created from a whole piece of malachite, so matched are the colour patterns of the stone. Thematic album with the photos of malachite items  from the museum Collection exposition is posted in our Photo Gallery.

Based on: Jewellery Stones. N.I. Kornilov, Yu. Solodova. Moscow "Nedra". 1986