What Is the Difference Between Real Malachite and Fake Malachite?

What Does Real Malachite Look Like?

Real malachite, is a mineral that contains copper and is named for its unique colour and pattern. The colour of this mineral is usually a mixture of emerald green, sky blue and dark green, giving it a vibrant and colourful appearance. Malachite may have a lustrous or silky surface, sometimes revealing a metallic sheen. The texture of this mineral can be lumpy, fibrous or striated, and sometimes forms beautiful concentric or radial patterns.

Malachite has a relatively low hardness, ranging from about 3.5 to 4, so care needs to be taken when handling it to prevent scratching. Fractures of this mineral can be uneven, with tiny chips or rough surfaces. Malachite has a low density, is light to the touch and its colour and lustre may vary under different light conditions, revealing its unique beauty.

Different Types of Malachite

Malachite is a popular mineral known for its rich green color and intricate patterns. It primarily consists of copper carbonate hydroxide and forms through the weathering and oxidation of copper-containing minerals. Here are several types of malachite, distinguished by their appearances and formations:

  • Banded Malachite

This is the most common form of malachite, characterized by beautiful, concentric bands of varying shades of green. These bands can appear as straight, curved, or concentric lines, offering a unique and appealing visual texture. Banded malachite is often used in decorative pieces and jewelry.

  • Botryoidal Malachite

This type features a bulbous, grape-like surface. The term "botryoidal" comes from the Greek word for grape, reflecting the shape of the formations. Botryoidal malachite has a smooth, rounded appearance and is particularly prized for its aesthetic qualities in gemstone and ornamental uses.

  • Fibrous Malachite

Fibrous malachite displays a silky luster from its fibrous structure. It may form as tight clusters of fibrous bands or as radial aggregates, giving it a somewhat velvety appearance. This type is often polished for jewelry and small sculptures.

  • Needle Malachite

Composed of acicular (needle-like) crystals, this form is less common. The needles may be densely packed or occur as sprays of fine, green crystals. Needle malachite is particularly striking under magnification and is a favorite among collectors.

  • Pseudomorph Malachite

Malachite sometimes forms pseudomorphs after other minerals, typically azurite. This occurs when the malachite replaces azurite molecules, but the mineral retains the original azurite crystal shape. These specimens are fascinating for scientific study and are highly valued by collectors.

  • Massive Malachite

Massive malachite refers to specimens that do not show well-defined crystal shapes but are found in large chunks or masses. This form is often used for larger sculptural works, architectural elements, and as raw material for carved objects and cabochons.

  • Polished/Stabilized Malachite

This is not a naturally occurring form but rather malachite that has been treated and polished to enhance its appearance for jewelry and decorative items. Stabilization involves impregnating the malachite with resins to increase its durability and luster.

How to Identify Malachite? 7 Ways to Test your Malachite

1) OBSERVE THE COLOURS AND PATTERNS

Genuine malachite is brightly coloured, usually green, blue or lime green, and may contain distinctive patterns such as concentric circles or bands. If the colour is unusually bright or uniform, it may be artificially dyed or manufactured as an imitation.

2) CHECK FOR LUSTRE AND SURFACE TEXTURE

The luster of real malachite is usually glassy or silky, and the surface may be slightly rough or have uneven breaks. If the surface of the stone is too smooth or has a plastic feel to it, then it may be fake.

3) HARDNESS TEST

Malachite has a hardness between 3.5 and 4 on the Mohs scale and can be easily scratched by steel products. If the sample you test can't be scratched or is unusually hard, it may be another type of mineral or an imitation.

4) DENSITY AND WEIGHT

Malachite has a low density and therefore feels lighter than other stones of the same volume. The difference in weight can be felt by comparing similar sized stones.

5) USE OF UV LIGHT

Genuine malachite will show a distinctive fluorescent reaction under a UV lamp, usually a green or blue-green fluorescence. This is due to the fact that malachite contains copper, which fluoresces under UV light.

6) PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL

If you are unsure or need to ensure the authenticity of your malachite, the best thing to do is to take it to a professional gemologist to have it examined. A professional appraiser can use more advanced instruments and techniques to accurately determine the stone's authenticity.

7) PRICE AND SOURCE

If the price is unusually low or the source is unclear, this may be a sign of an imitation. Genuine malachite, especially with quality colours and patterns, is usually not too cheap.

What Does Fake Malachite Look Like?

The colours of fake malachite may be too bright or uniform, without the natural gradations of colour and intricate patterns of real malachite. The colour may look artificially dyed and lack the depth and nuance of a natural stone. The surface may be unusually smooth, with a plastic or resin sheen rather than the glassy or silky sheen of real malachite. Real malachite usually has a slightly rougher surface with a natural mineral feel. Imitations may be harder or softer than real malachite. For example, imitations made of plastic or resin are usually harder than natural malachite and are less likely to be scratched by steel.

Real Malachite vs. Fake Malachite

  • Hardness characteristics 

1) The hardness of real malachite is usually between 3.5 and 4 (Mohs hardness), which is wear-resistant and able to maintain its surface luster and texture for a long time.

2) Fake malachite may be more susceptible to scratches or damage when in contact with hard objects due to its lower hardness.

  • Density Comparison

1) Real malachite is usually denser than fake malachite, so it will weigh more for the same size.

2) Fake malachite may be less dense due to the different material and feel lighter or show a noticeable lightness in the hand.

  • Fluorescence Reaction

1) Real malachite usually shows a specific fluorescence effect under UV light, mainly light blue or light green.

2) Fake malachite may have an unnatural fluorescent reaction, with colours that are too bright or too dark and lacking in realism.

  • Colour Characteristics

1) The main colour of real malachite is green, with possible blue, grey or gold spots, and the colour variations are natural and not overly bright.

2) The colour of fake malachite may not be in harmony with its surface texture, and lacks the characteristic colour variation effect of real malachite, which does not look natural enough.

  • Naturalness of Texture

1) The surface of real malachite usually has a natural texture, does not show too regular or artificial deliberate patterns; the texture is delicate and in line with the colour, there is no obvious sense of incongruity.

2) The texture of fake malachite surface is rigid and unnatural, with obvious pattern repetitions, for example, the arrangement of patterns or spots is too consistent, lacks a sense of depth, and looks rather flat and monotonous.

  • Lustre Performance and Characteristics

1) Real malachite has a natural, soft lustre, a certain degree of transparency, and reflects light in colourful variations rather than in a single reflective colour.

2) Fake malachite Reflects light with colourful variations rather than a single reflected colour, When reflecting light, it may show a single colour, without colourful variations.

How to Clean Malachite

Any treated gemstone needs to be cleansed and recharged on a regular basis, especially malachite, as malachite absorbs more negative energy than most gemstones, to maintain its potent ability you need to clean and recharge your malachite frequently, about every few weeks or after a particularly tiring day or week. Keeping it clean will keep the stone happy and the vibration high.

Malachite is a very soft gemstone so we need to be careful to avoid any rough treatment, I don't recommend cleaning with salt, it is best to use clear natural stream, waterfall or spring water but tap water will also work, it is safe for the gemstone and is sufficient for a quick clean. It can also be kept clean by rubbing it on the surface of the stone, wafting the fumes with a stick or dried herbs.

In addition to cleaning, malachite needs to be recharged, so you can recharge it in several ways:

  • Malachite loves nature, so put it in your garden, under a tree, or even bury it in the soil overnight so it can absorb nature's aura. (As long as your soil is not too acidic)
  • Place it with some crystal cave crystal clusters to increase its energy or leave it in sunlight or moonlight for a few hours, but if left in sunlight, don't leave it for too long as this may cause the vibrant colours to fade. Never use salt on malachite as this can damage its smooth texture.