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Malachite is a popular gemstone often used in jewellery and decorative items. While natural malachite is formed over thousands of years through a natural process, artificial malachite can be created in a laboratory using various techniques.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between natural and artificial malachite, but there are several factors that can be used to distinguish the two. By examining a few factors, it is possible to determine whether a piece of malachite is natural or artificial.

Appearance and Colour

One of the most important parts of gemmology is observation, which will likely be the best way to tell if your malachite is authentic, especially if you are buying online.

Malachite has a unique and distinct pattern with irregular banding and swirls. In contrast, artificial malachite typically has a more uniform and consistent pattern.

Artificial malachite will also often have black and two or three shades of green, while malachite is never really a true black but rather very dark green.

 

 Natural Artificial

Look for:

  • Wide variety of shades of greens
  • Variances in width of the bands
  • Variety of different patterns and bands

Look for:

  • Distinctly dark black lines
  • Lack of variation in the patterns
  • Uniform lines
  • Low number of different shades of green 

 

Weight

If you can pick them up, feeling how hefty the material is can help you decipher authentic from artificial. Much of the artificial malachite is usually made from polymer clay or plastic, which is much lighter than natural malachite. Malachite is heavier as its composition consists of copper. 

Temperature

Another test you can do if you can hold the item is to press it gently to your cheek or neck. Malachite will feel cold to the touch, whereas a clay or plastic will be room temperature, so will feel much warmer.

Price

Natural malachite is generally more expensive than artificial malachite, although this is not always a reliable indicator as prices can vary widely depending on the quality and size of the specimen.

Chemical Composition

Natural malachite is a copper carbonate mineral formed through natural processes, while artificial malachite is usually made from a combination of copper salts and other materials. A laboratory analysis of the chemical composition can provide a definitive answer, but this is generally not necessary for most purposes.

Summary

Overall, a combination of these factors can be used to distinguish natural from artificial malachite. However, it is important to note that some artificial malachite can be very convincing, so it is always best to purchase from a reputable source and consult an expert if you are unsure.

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