Malachite, the other beautiful green gemstone, has been linked to emeralds for almost as long as it’s been known. People have been mining it for about as long as emeralds, though malachite was originally found in Israel instead of Egypt. In ancient Egyptian mythology, green had a strong association with death and resurrection, and life and fertility. Their afterlife was a paradise of lush, green fields that were always plentiful. Malachite has a long history of being associated with plants, so it made sense that Egyptians called this realm the “Field of Malachite”.

Malachite isn’t like most other gemstones. It gets its color from copper and was used as one of the sources to produce copper ore. The unique banding of colors in the stone are a direct result from how it’s formed. Malachite forms much like stalactites, where particulates in a solution, usually water, dry into a tapered shape from the ceiling of a cavern. As the stalactite grows, layers are added, much like tree rings. When it’s cut and polished into a proper gemstone, it creates these beautiful bands of color. The different shades are a result of how much copper is in one layer versus another.

Entomology and Malachite

Like emerald, malachite gets its name from the Greek word “smaragdos”, but it also got its name from the mallow plant. Mallow plants are a common ornamental flowers with vibrant green leaves. There was a common word that led to the Latin word “malva” and Greek word “malakhe”, both meaning mallow, but it has since been lost. Because malachite has a vibrant, opaque green color, it was referred to as “malachitis lithos”, meaning “mallow stone”, or simply “malachitis”.

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