Malachite is a beautiful green mineral that has been used to make jewelry and ornamental objects for centuries.
The name of the stone comes from the Greek word “molōchē”, which means mallow, a plant with deep green leaves.
The name refers to the gemstone’s exclusive color, featuring a soft to dark green shade because of oxidized copper.
However, the beautiful green color and striped patterns, coupled with a premium price, have caused an abundance of fake malachite to sneak onto the market.
It is a lengthy process to give the gemstone its perfect appearance, but making the artificial ones does not involve much labor.
Malachite is a popular gemstone; the credit for this goes to many famous jewelry brands and jewelers.
The French luxury jewelry company Van Cleef has used it in their latest 18k Alhambra collection.
You will also find a malachite collection from the world-famous brand Bvlgari.
The gemstone’s popularity has led to many imitation versions being produced and sold.
However, figuring out the real ones from plastic fake malachite, though challenging, is not impossible.
The Reasons Behind the Abundance of Fake Malachite
Despite the misconception about malachite toxicity ((linking to the article titled: ‘Is malachite toxic’ on anchor text ‘malachite toxicity’)), the allure of the stone is undeniable, leading unscrupulous people to sell fake stones to unsuspecting customers.
Here’s a closer look at why so many synthetic malachite products exist.
Natural malachite stones and jewelry are expensive compared to artificial ones.
For example, a genuine malachite bracelet can be around $200 to $1,000, depending on the stone’s quality.
On the other hand, an imitation malachite bracelet is available for approximately $10 to $15.
Genuine malachite is not abundant in nature. It mostly comes from Africa because the Ural Mountains, Egypt and Israel supplies have dried off.
This limited supply drives up the price of the real thing, making it unaffordable for many people.
Scarcity of Large Clusters
Malachite clusters are dug out from deep caves, which is challenging enough as it is, so finding larger ones is extremely difficult.
Most of the world’s malachite reserves are small, and larger clusters are rare.
Making Imitation Malachite is Easy
Creating fake malachite with synthetic material is relatively simple and inexpensive.
Many YouTube videos show how to make the gemstone from polymer clay.
Another imitation version, reconstituted malachite, is made by mixing the crushed gemstone leftovers with resin and dyes.
Although the resin mixture makes the green shade lighter, inexperienced people may not discern the difference.
Imitation malachite jewelry is popular, too, because of its affordable prices, and you will find many beautiful pieces in such a collection.
However, the seller must mention that the gemstones are not genuine.
How to Tell If a Malachite Gemstone is Fake or Real
No one wants to be duped. Whether you’re buying a car, a new outfit or a piece of art, you want to know you’re getting the real deal—not a cheap knock-off.
The same goes for gemstones. If you’re on the hunt for malachite, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting a genuine stone.
So, when you purchase a beautiful malachite jewelry piece or crystal stone from Amazon or Etsy, you want to be sure about its authenticity.
We’ve discussed ten control points for you to check if your malachite piece is real or fake.
1 Check the Price
A real malachite gemstone is more expensive. It’s already quite rare, so the possibility of finding large malachite clusters is even rarer.
Add to it the extraction, weathering and polishing of the stone. All of this makes a crystal or a jewelry piece worth a few hundred dollars.
For obvious reasons, a fake malachite piece made from plastic or clay will not be as costly as the real thing.
The price difference is an essential point to be considered when buying malachite.
Accuracy: The pricing method works only when the seller is honest. Otherwise, a private seller on eBay can claim it’s genuine and dupe you.
Online purchase: The pricing criteria can be accurate to eliminate the obvious fake options.
However, when the price is set high for a malachite gem, check the other factors when purchasing online.
2 Check the Weight
Because of copper, a genuine malachite gem will be relatively heavy. Its specific gravity will be between 3.6 to 4.05 g/cm3.
As a fake malachite has no natural copper element and is mostly made of plastic or clay, it will not be as heavy as a genuine stone.
Accuracy: This criterion is very accurate when buying malachite from a physical store.
It is rare to find a fake malachite that is heavy.
Online purchase: When it comes to online purchases, ask the seller about the weight and get proof if it has not already been mentioned.
3 Observe the Cut of the Stone
When inspecting a malachite gemstone, it is essential to take note of the stone’s cut.
Natural stones are soft, scoring 3.5 to 4.0 on the Mohs hardness scale. For this reason, jewelers graft the stone mostly as beads or cabochons.
Now, real malachite stones are usually not perfectly spherical, as they are hand-cut.
On the other hand, synthetic malachite beads are often perfect spheres, as they are made using machines.
The shape of the cut is handy in determining the authenticity of several other gemstones, including pearls.
It’s very rare for genuine pearls to be perfectly round.
Accuracy: This method is quite accurate because it’s easy to differentiate a perfect sphere from an imperfect one.
Online purchase: Judging the cut and shape could be a good starting point to spot a fake stone during online shopping.
4 Check for Clarity
Malachite is primarily found in a non-crystalline form and has an opaque, dull luster.
However, you can achieve a bright shine after polishing.
The rare crystallite versions come with a vitreous to adamantine glow. It means they are usually quite translucent and have a high level of brightness and reflectivity.
Fake malachite stones look dull because they are made of clay or plastic. Glass beads will look shiny, but they are semi-transparent instead of translucent.
Accuracy: The clarity check can only be an accurate method of testing malachite if you know how to spot the differences.
Otherwise, it can be easy to mistake glass beads for real ones.
Online purchase: It may be challenging to determine the shine and clarity of the stones by looking at online products.
But you can ask the seller to send you raw, unedited photos before buying.
5 Check for the Coloration and Banding
A genuine malachite is a beautiful dark green color with non-repeating patterns.
When looking at the stone, pay close attention to the colors and patterns.
It will never be a uniform color and it will always have some pattern variation.
Look for banding (striped patterns), circles and speckles in the gemstone.
The malachite piece is likely to be fake if the colors are all the same or the patterns are too uniform.
Also, the color shades on fake malachite are somewhat light and faded.
Accuracy: The color and banding factors are accurate and should be considered before purchasing a malachite piece.
Online purchase: When purchasing from an online store, check if you can detect a faded color.
If it appears faded in the pictures, it is best not to buy it.
6 Check for Transparency
One of the most striking physical differences between real and fake malachite is the stone’s transparency.
Genuine malachite is typically only semi-transparent to opaque, while fakes are often much more transparent and reflective.
A glass-like luster is a tell-tale sign that a stone is not malachite.
Accuracy: A transparency check is always accurate because genuine malachite is never transparent.
Online purchase: It can be challenging to determine transparency by looking at product pictures online.
You can ask the seller to send accurate photographs or a product video.
7 Check for the Temperature and Feel
When checking if a malachite gemstone is real or fake, one of the most telling signs is the temperature of the stone.
Real malachite will feel heavy and will always be ice cold to the touch, just like jade, no matter how long it is held.
Fake malachite made from plastic will feel lightweight and warm to the touch, as it is not a good conductor of heat.
However, a glass-made stone can be more difficult to spot, as it also feels heavy and cold.
The easiest way to tell the difference is by the rate at which the stone warms up in your hand.
Real malachite will take a very long time to warm up, if it warms up at all, whereas a glass stone will warm up much quicker.
Accuracy: The temperature of genuine malachite will mostly remain cold to the touch.
So, the temperature test will always be accurate.
Online purchase: It is impossible to test the temperature from online stores.
For this reason, you can not use this method for online purchases.
8 Check for Streaks on the Crystal
The streaks of a genuine malachite piece are bright green with light green underlining.
Such patterns are very hard to acquire in a fake stone. Most lines are lighter in color in a fake malachite piece.
You can test by rubbing your gemstone against white porcelain tiles. You will see a green streak if the stone is genuine.
A fake one won’t leave such a streak and may scratch the tile. Since natural malachite is soft, it will never cause damage to such a hard surface.
Check here to learn more about the streak test for minerals.
Accuracy: The streak test gives an accurate result if you have a porcelain tile to spare.
Online purchase: When purchasing online, this method will not be of much help.
9 Conduct an Acetone Test
If you’re trying to figure out if your malachite is real or fake, one way to tell is by doing an acetone test.
You can also use nail polish remover since it contains acetone.
Resin is a common impurity in synthetic malachite and is soluble in acetone.
So, if you suspect a stone may be fake, the best way to test it is to put it in acetone for 30 seconds.
If the stone starts to dissolve, then it’s most likely fake. However, remember this test will damage your stone, so only do it if you want to know the answer.
Acetone may cause some health hazards, so be careful and wear protective gear before using it.
Accuracy: This method works all the time accurately. There is very little chance of a fake malachite gemstone not getting dissolved in acetone.
Online purchase: The acetone test does not work with online purchases, as you will have no way to test the product before purchase.
10 Blue or multi-colored malachite doesn’t exist
Malachite is never blue. There is a blue-green stone called azurite malachite, which is a mixture of azurite and malachite.
So, if someone tries to sell you blue malachite, it’s likely to be a fake stone.
Natural malachite is also never multi-colored. If you see a stone that is multi-colored, it is likely to be a dyed version of a cheap gemstone called howlite.
Also, gems sold as red malachite are a type of red jasper.
Accuracy: If you have a good idea about the color specifics of the malachite piece, you can identify the real ones with this method.
Online purchase: It works for online shopping because azurite malachite’s color is very distinct from the original malachite.
If you’re hoping to find malachite jewelry at a bargain, beware of the fake pieces.
The inexpensive knock-offs are often made of glass or plastic and may be dyed to intensify the green color.
While fake malachite may fool the untrained eye, our guide will help you tell the difference between the real thing and a fake.
Follow it when purchasing malachite jewelry or crystal stones from online or physical stores.
FAQs About Malachite
How can I tell if my malachite is real?
If the malachite feels heavy and very cold, it is a real malachite. Also, a genuine malachite gemstone’s colors are dark green with light green streaks.
The opacity of the stone is not as transparent as a fake malachite.
Does malachite scratch easily?
Genuine malachite can get scratched easily because the gem is very soft compared to many other gemstones.
This is why you should use malachite gems carefully.
What does malachite look like raw?
Raw malachite has an intense to medium green shade and an earthy luster. It will leave a green streak when rubbed against a hard surface.
Also, you can crumble it into powder easily because the gemstone is quite soft.
For this reason, polishing malachite is quite challenging.