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Russian Geological Research Institute
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MALAKHITE Cu2CO3(OH)2 is one of the main minerals of copper, it contains 57.4% of pure metal. It is copper that gives malachite its bright green colour. The name comes from the Latin word “malachites” - mallow, because the colour and pattern of the stone resemble the leaves of this plant. Reniform aggregates of malachite are formed by the finest radially arranged needles. In cross section, a beautiful concentric pattern of alternating stripes of green in different shades is visible. The pattern can be different: ocellar, striate, banded.

Malachite has been known since the Neolithic: simple jewellery was made from it; it was used as amulets and talismans. In ancient Egypt, eyeliner was made from malachite. In ancient Greece, the temple of the goddess Diana in Ephesus was decorated with malachite. Earthy varieties of malachite were used to make green paint for pictorial art and icon painting.

In Russia, malachite was found in 1635 in the Urals and was originally used as copper ore. In the XVIII century, two largest deposits of jewellery and ornamental malachite were discovered there: Gumeshevskoye and Mednorudyanskoye.

In 1836, a block of high-quality malachite weighing more than 260 tons was discovered at the Mednorudyanskoye deposit. This malachite was used to decorate the interiors of the Winter and Anichkov Palaces and St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Nodules of jewellery malachite are not large and are often separated by voids, which does not allow using it to create large items. Therefore, a special “Russian mosaic” technique was developed: thinly cut stone plates are carefully selected according to colour and pattern, and then glued onto the surface of the product, creating the impression of a monolith.

After 1850, the extraction of Ural malachite sharply decreased and by 1870 it had almost ceased. Now a small amount of it is mined in the Urals, but the largest deposits of malachite are in Africa.

Rock chip samples of malachite from the Mednorudyanskoye deposit. Demidov collection. Gift to the Museum of the Geological Committee from the Mining Museum

Sample of “Russian mosaic”