This week I've chosen a personal favourite of mine, Malachite. It is an opaque stone with concentric banding of varying shades of green running through it which makes it popular for jewellery and carvings. It forms from copper containing solutions near copper ore deposits.
Malachite is now quite rare. Small deposits are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia, Israel, USA and Australia. Gemstone quality Malachite is mined by hand in small copper mines, some of which were abandoned when the copper deposits dried up.
The history of malachite goes back to the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, who made jewellery and amulets, ground it into a powder to be used as eyeshadow or as a pigment in green paint. Years ago in Russia, huge blocks of malachite, some weighing over 20 tonnes, were discovered and were used to decorate the palaces of Tsars. The Malachite Room in the Winter Palace of the Russian Royal family was designed in the late 1830s. The room, which includes fireplace decoration, vases and columns, is made completely of Malachite using the "Russian mosaic" technique.