Common beauty – Malachite

What does it look like?

The crystal structure of malachite, blue are copper atoms, red oxygen, brown carbon and pink are hydrogen.  Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

The crystal structure of malachite, blue are copper atoms, red oxygen, brown carbon and pink are hydrogen. Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/


What is it?

If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Hermitage museum in St.Petersburg you may have come across this rather fantastical vase:

Ermitáž

As well as wondering quite how many bunches of flowers you would need to fill it, you could also marvel at the craftsmanship of how it has been put together. The whole vase has been painstakingly crafted from pieces of the mineral malachite. Quite an effort, as one of the rather beautiful things about malachite is the way the colour waves of green wary through it.

Malachite Kolwezi Katanga Congo

This variation, and the green colour, come from the copper content of the crystal structure.  Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral and is actually pretty common – you’ve probably seen some in every rock shop you may have wandered into.  Despite the fact that there’s a lot of it about, it doesn’t detract from the fact that it is very beautiful.

Where did the structure come from?

The crystal structure we’ve picture comes from work by Susse, the structure can be found on the American Mineral database.

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