How to Tell if Malachite is Real: 7 Tips for Beginners

Malachite is one of the most popular gemstones in the world.

Its popularity arises from its gorgeous green color, intricate patterns, and heaviness.

Due to its popularity, it’s important to know whether malachite is real or fake.

And how to tell the difference between malachite and other green gemstones?

Here are seven tips on how to tell if malachite is real.

How to Tell if Malachite is Real (A Guide)

What is Malachite? 

Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral formed by copper orebodies in an area where land masses have been weathered.

Malachite is either bright or dark green in color.

The crystal system within malachite is monoclinic and features perfect cleavage.

The material usually has uneven fractures and has light green streaks.

It is a non-metallic, minor ore.

Malachite stones are sensitive to both heat and hot water.

Malachite in the ground is relatively stable against light.

No matter how much time has passed, a malachite will not dull or lose its luster.

When deformed, malachite can be brittle, which allows it to be turned into a powder.

Although malachite feels hard when you squeeze it in your hand, malachite only has a hardness level of 3.5 to 4.

What this means is, malachite isn’t actually very hard at all.

It actually can’t even scratch the glass.

Malachite is water soluble and isn’t affected by water.

For instance, it’s safe to wear a bracelet with malachite gemstones while washing the dishes.

7 Tips for Identifying Malachite

Before buying malachite, several things should be gone over to determine whether the material is real or a fake, and to determine if the gemstone in question is actually malachite and not a similar gemstone.

Due to malachite’s unique make-up, the tips below will help you correctly identify the gemstone.

Tip 1: Malachite is Very Cold, Heavy, and Hard

Malachite is ice cold when touched. 

It is also a very heavy gemstone and feels hard when squeezed.

For comparison, malachite is heavier than glass or plastic.

If you squeeze malachite in your fist, the gemstone will feel very hard in your hand.

Tip 2: Malachite Banding is Not Uniformed 

Stripes on malachite are called banding.

It’s important to realize malachite banding is not uniform.

And two separate pieces of malachite will likely have very unique bands.

Instead, genuine malachite will have speckles, different patterns, shades of green, and both thin and thick bands.

Tip 3: Malachite is Never Red 

As mentioned above, malachite is always green.

The gemstone could be different shades of green, but it will never be red.

Red malachite isn’t an actual gemstone. 

Tip 4: Malachite does not Float 

Malachite is a copper deposit created through weathering. 

Unlike “imitation” malachite that is sometimes made of polymer clay, glass, or plastic, genuine malachite does not float.

The heaviness of the gemstone allows it to sink immediately when immersed in water. 

Tip 5: Malachite is Not Magnetic 

Malachite is a non-metallic mineral, so it is not magnetic.

Nothing in malachite will be attracted to a magnet.

However, if malachite is set in a magnetic jewel setting, the setting may have some magnetic properties. 

Tip 6: Ask Where Malachite was Found 

Authentic malachite occurs in certain areas all over the world.

The largest deposits of malachite are found in Russia, but it can also be found in Australia, Mexico, the Congo, Gabon, Namibia, and Zambia.

When considering malachite, it’s a good idea to find out where it was found.

Tip 7: Confirm Malachite is Not Radioactive

Genuine malachite is not radioactive.

It’s important to confirm the gemstone is not radioactive when determining whether malachite is genuine or not. 

Malachite is Often Confused With Other Gemstones

Malachite is unique, but its properties and bright green color can cause confusion when comparing this gemstone and the gemstone azurite.

The biggest difference between the two gemstones is that malachite is bright green.

Azurite has several shade possibilities, including azure blue to very dark blue.

However, the two gemstones are very similar in terms of physical make-up.

Azure has 69.2% CuO and malachite is 71.9% CuO.

Malachite is more common than azurite. 

Malachite is also often confused with emeralds.

Emeralds are dark green in color, but have different chemical make-ups.

Emeralds are made up of beryl, which is a mineral.

Emeralds are one of the most sought after gemstones in the precious stone market.

Emeralds, like malachite, have a rich, deep green color.

Colors included in emeralds range from bluish green to dark green to slightly yellow green.

While both gemstones are green, they are very different shades of green.

With emeralds being much darker than malachite.

Neither malachite nor emeralds are very strong, which means both gemstones can chip very easily. 

Why It’s Important to Identify Malachite Properly 

If you’re considering a malachite gemstone for jewelry, it’s incredibly important to make sure the gemstone is identified properly.

Due to the make-up and hardness score of malachite, it’s best used in some types of jewelry settings and not in others.

For instance, malachite wouldn’t be ideal in rings, unless it could be set in a way that wouldn’t allow it to scratch easily.

Instead, malachite is best used as earrings or necklaces. 

Now that you know how to properly identify malachite, you can shop in-person and online with confidence.

Knowing exactly what to look for will help you get exactly what you want without disappointment. 

Other articles about malachite you might enjoy:

How to Tell if Malachite is Real