20 April 2017

A History of Malachite

Malachite may not enjoy the cachet of the diamond or the musgravite minerals, but it has a rich and intriguing history; having been mined in Ancient Egypt from as early as 4,000 BCE.

The Ancient Egyptians associated the colour green with death and resurrection as well as life and fertility. They believed in an afterlife of eternal paradise, which resembled their lives with the absence of pain or suffering, named the 'Field of Malachite'.

Since antiquity, malachite has been used to create gemstones, sculptures, ornaments; even powdered cosmetics! It was used as a pigment for green paint up until around 1800, when synthetic greens became widely available.

A fashion for malachite revived during the Victorian Age, used in fine jewellery for the English gentry and grand sculpture in the palaces of the Russian Tsars.

During the roaring twenties, malachite was back in vogue after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 led to a popular fascination with all things Egyptian.

Here at Gray's we have gone searching for some antique items containing this fascinating mineral...

 Apolished Malachite/Chrysocalla, Freeform, 15.5 x 10 inches, Contemporary, Democratic Republic of Congo. Offered by Al Khatib Antiques  

Gold Stick Pin with Malachite Cameo in the classical revival style c.1820 approx. 4.75 inches, British. Offered by Christopher Cavey & Associates

Gold and Malachite Salamander Tie Pin (two views), Victorian c.1880 approx 3.5 inches, Probably English. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

Art Deco Diamond and Malachite Drop Earrings, 1920-35, 32mm length, European. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

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