Myths and legends

How to test malachite with ammonia?

Justification. Since its discovery, malachite has not been considered a rare stone, but increased demand has led to the depletion of most deposits, and counterfeits are increasingly found on the markets [1, 2]. Goal — demonstration of methods for determining the naturalness of malachite and popularization of knowledge about the variability of fakes and imitations. Methods It is quite easy to identify fake malachite. A series of simple manipulations will allow you to establish the naturalness of the stone. You need to pay attention to the following criteria:

  1. Mass of stone. This aspect allows you to identify plastic and glass counterfeits. It should be noted that malachite is heavier than most other natural minerals used to create an imitation of the real mineral.
  2. Dullness. Natural stone does not shine through in the sun. It lacks transparency, the surface is matte, with little shine. A simple way to check is to shine a flashlight on the stone or raise it to the sun. If light passes through it, then this is a fake gem.
  3. Heterogeneity. Malachite mined in African countries has beautiful, even rings, but the patterns on two gems cannot match. The effect of similarity can be achieved only by making the stone yourself, in an attempt to realize its exact imitation. To check the gem, you need to examine the samples presented nearby. The pattern of the concentric rings will vary slightly, but will vary. If the gems are similar to each other, then this is a fake.
  4. Shades. The differences are present not only in the pattern, the color of the stone itself says a lot. The master will use various paints when creating an imitation of malachite. For example, a coil can be “touched” in order to sell it under the guise of malachite. This is a natural stone, but its price is much less. The key difference is the shade: malachite has a deep emerald green, while serpentine has a marsh color.
  5. If you have a stone and you doubt that it is real malachite, you can check the stone by the color of the line by scratching it (Fig. 1). To do this, however, you will have to ruin one bead. The color of the malachite streak will be green – from light turquoise to very dark green. The color of the pseudomalachite streak will always be lighter than the stone itself.
  6. The ammonia and acid test is one of the best tests to determine the authenticity of a stone. Most fakes can be visually distinguished, but high-quality and expensive imitations can be misleading. It is worth considering that experiments will lead to a change in the appearance of the stone, so you only need to work with the back part of the gem or jewelry. The first test involves applying a drop of ammonia to a small area of ​​malachite (Figure 2). The area on natural stone will fade after a few minutes. The ammonia will turn blue. Sometimes you need to wait more than 5–7 minutes; even a natural gem is coated with varnish, which can prevent the drop from contacting the surface of the stone. The second test is to apply acid to the stone. You need to add lemon juice to warm water and then apply it to the gem. The surface should bubble if the malachite is genuine. The reaction time depends on the presence or absence of varnish.

Rice. 1. Determination of the color of malachite trait

Rice. 2. Ammonia test

Do not forget that malachite produced under artificial conditions passes the above-mentioned tests, since it has a similar chemical formula. Unfortunately, there are no methods for determining laboratory stones, so in this case you can only rely on the honesty of the seller.

Results. Verification tests have been proposed to determine the naturalness of a stone.

Conclusions. Buyer awareness of the different types of counterfeit and how to identify it will significantly reduce the number of cases of fraud involving counterfeit malachite.

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Justification. Since its discovery, malachite has not been considered a rare stone, but increased demand has led to the depletion of most deposits, and counterfeits are increasingly found on the markets [1, 2].

Goal — demonstration of methods for determining the naturalness of malachite and popularization of knowledge about the variability of fakes and imitations.

Methods It is quite easy to identify fake malachite. A series of simple manipulations will allow you to establish the naturalness of the stone. You need to pay attention to the following criteria:

  1. Mass of stone. This aspect allows you to identify plastic and glass counterfeits. It should be noted that malachite is heavier than most other natural minerals used to create an imitation of the real mineral.
  2. Dullness. Natural stone does not shine through in the sun. It lacks transparency, the surface is matte, with little shine. A simple way to check is to shine a flashlight on the stone or raise it to the sun. If light passes through it, then this is a fake gem.
  3. Heterogeneity. Malachite mined in African countries has beautiful, even rings, but the patterns on two gems cannot match. The effect of similarity can be achieved only by making the stone yourself, in an attempt to realize its exact imitation. To check the gem, you need to examine the samples presented nearby. The pattern of the concentric rings will vary slightly, but will vary. If the gems are similar to each other, then this is a fake.
  4. Shades. The differences are present not only in the pattern, the color of the stone itself says a lot. The master will use various paints when creating an imitation of malachite. For example, a coil can be “touched” in order to sell it under the guise of malachite. This is a natural stone, but its price is much less. The key difference is the shade: malachite has a deep emerald green, while serpentine has a marsh color.
  5. If you have a stone and you doubt that it is real malachite, you can check the stone by the color of the line by scratching it (Fig. 1). To do this, however, you will have to ruin one bead. The color of the malachite streak will be green – from light turquoise to very dark green. The color of the pseudomalachite streak will always be lighter than the stone itself.
  6. The ammonia and acid test is one of the best tests to determine the authenticity of a stone. Most fakes can be visually distinguished, but high-quality and expensive imitations can be misleading. It is worth considering that experiments will lead to a change in the appearance of the stone, so you only need to work with the back part of the gem or jewelry. The first test involves applying a drop of ammonia to a small area of ​​malachite (Figure 2). The area on natural stone will fade after a few minutes. The ammonia will turn blue. Sometimes you need to wait more than 5–7 minutes; even a natural gem is coated with varnish, which can prevent the drop from contacting the surface of the stone. The second test is to apply acid to the stone. You need to add lemon juice to warm water and then apply it to the gem. The surface should bubble if the malachite is genuine. The reaction time depends on the presence or absence of varnish.

Rice. 1. Determination of the color of malachite trait

Rice. 2. Ammonia test

Do not forget that malachite produced under artificial conditions passes the above-mentioned tests, since it has a similar chemical formula. Unfortunately, there are no methods for determining laboratory stones, so in this case you can only rely on the honesty of the seller.

Results. Verification tests have been proposed to determine the naturalness of a stone.

Conclusions. Buyer awareness of the different types of counterfeit and how to identify it will significantly reduce the number of cases of fraud involving counterfeit malachite.

I love malachite! As a child, after reading the tales of P. P. Bazhov, I simply dreamed of a malachite box.

For some reason, out of all the variety of Ural gems, I liked this particular mineral! I often leafed through the book “Minerals and Rocks,” which I got from my father, looking at photographs for a long time and studying the descriptions of various precious, semi-precious and ornamental stones. In addition, I had a sample of this fascinating mineral – part of it was unprocessed, as natural, and only two sides were polished. However, he disappeared under mysterious, even slightly mystical circumstances. But now we will not talk about this, but about malachite itself.

Malachite is a valuable jewelry and ornamental stone, easily recognizable precisely because of its pattern: alternating light green and dark green stripes. Carbonate class mineral containing basic copper carbonate; often contains impurities: cobalt, zinc and nickel. The color of the stone depends on the copper content and varies from rich dark green to light turquoise green. It is an opaque stone with a matte, velvety sheen. Malachite is a rather fragile stone. Its hardness on the Mohs scale is only 3,5-4 units, specific gravity 3,9 – 4,1; density 3,7-4,1 g/cm³. Malachite is a rather fragile mineral – it is quickly destroyed under the influence of various acids.

The most valuable is Ural malachite. It was in the Ural deposits near Yekaterinburg that this mineral was mined to decorate the columns of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, as well as the Malachite Hall of the Winter Palace: these are tabletops, and huge vases, and fireplace linings, and pilasters, not to mention boxes, clocks, tabletops accessories.

In total, the Malachite Hall of the Hermitage houses more than 200 malachite products, most of which are far from small in size!

When processing malachite, they try to maximize the decorative qualities of the stone. Ocellated malachite with thin concentric rings – “peacock eye” – is especially prized. In large ores, malachite cannot be confused with anything; in small pieces, where banding is not visible, it looks like many opaque green stones. Malachite is very easy to process due to its softness. It cuts, grinds and polishes well.

The main areas of application of malachite:

  • Jewelry making. Various jewelry pieces are made from cabochon-treated malachite: ring inserts, earrings, brooches, cufflinks, and pendants.
  • Manufacturing of interior items. Vases, boxes, table lamps, ashtrays and small figurines made of malachite are especially popular.
  • Decorating the interior of the premises. For wall cladding, malachite processed in the form of plates is used.

The mineral malachite combines and looks excellent with white metals, as well as copper.

The buyer of malachite products is often interested in the question of the authenticity of the stone. How to distinguish real malachite from a fake? There are several reliable ways to make sure that what you have in front of you is natural malachite and not a cheap fake made of glass or plastic.

First, pay attention to the color. Faded color is a sign of fake malachite. In addition, the presence of a brownish-green layer indicates that the stone was grown artificially. Imitation malachite is often made from natural crumbs of malachite itself, however, the crumbs are pressed and small. This crumb is heated at high temperatures and special means for hardness, as well as dyes, are added to it. Most often, high temperatures completely destroy the crumb, and dirt impurities and uneven color appear on the artificial stone. Glass counterfeits have transparent inclusions that are clearly visible through a magnifying glass. Only natural malachite has a unique natural pattern.

Secondly, temperature. A plastic product can be easily recognized by touching it with the back of your hand: a plastic fake will seem warm, while a natural stone will seem cold. In addition, plastic can be set on fire and it will melt, releasing an unpleasant synthetic odor.

Thirdly, you can check it chemically. If you drop ammonia onto a natural stone, the malachite will turn white and the liquid will take on a blue tint. Neither plastic nor glass will give such a reaction. Of course, such a procedure should be carried out carefully, and preferably on the back side of the product, so as not to spoil it. This method is considered universal in determining the naturalness of malachite. In addition, malachite dissolves well in acids. If you drop acid on a stone, it will foam and begin to bubble. But I think this method is not suitable for you, because. This will cause the stone to deteriorate hopelessly.

Fourthly, exposure to a sharp object. Considering that malachite is a rather soft stone, you can literally “remove chips” from it with an ordinary sharp knife. The glass will only be slightly scratched under this impact, but deep, whitish grooves will remain on the plastic.

Based on the physical and chemical properties of malachite, there are particularities in caring for jewelry made from this stone. Natural malachite is a very delicate stone that has low hardness and density. Therefore, it must be protected from temperature changes and ultrasound, exposure to acids and abrasives, as well as sharp impacts, as it is prone to cracking. Store in a separate box with a soft bottom. Since malachite dissolves in acids, it should only be washed with clean water and then wiped with a soft cloth. Ultrasonic and steam treatment are not permitted. It should not be kept near an open fire.

Well, in conclusion, a little about the magical properties of malachite.

Our ancestors believed that malachite was connected with the Universe and had great magical powers. Many legends have survived to this day telling about the ability of malachite to make a person invisible, teach him to understand the language of animals and even fulfill his wishes. There is an opinion that malachite is capable of attracting increased attention to its owner. That is why it is recommended as a talisman for artists, musicians, politicians and speakers. The magical properties of the stone also include its ability to support and strengthen a person’s spiritual powers, harmonize his inner and surrounding world.

The ancient Egyptians and Greeks used malachite as an amulet that brought health. The patterns on the stone often resemble an eye, so the gem was used as protection against the evil eye. In the Middle Ages, the mineral was used to protect children from witches. In Rus’, this gem was considered a wish-granting stone. The Slavs carved the sun from malachite to protect against evil spirits and poisonous animals. The mineral absorbs negativity, helps strengthen the nervous system, eliminate emotional imbalances and free the mind from troubles and grievances of the past. In addition, malachite is considered a stone that fulfills wishes!

Astrologers recommend wearing malachite, first of all, to people born under the sign of Libra. He makes them attractive, endows them with charm, and gives them eloquence. Other zodiac signs can also wear products with malachite. The only exceptions are Virgos and Cancers, for whom it is strictly contraindicated.

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