Tips on how to identify and avoid fake malachite gemstones.

Antique Malachite gemstone  cross bar brooch how to test malachite for fakes genuine real gemstones tips

Malachite gemstone

One of the most popular gemstones is malachite.  With its beautiful green colour, wonderful patterns and heavy, quality feel, its no wonder!

Like all popular gemstones though, there are now increasing amounts of fake malachite flooding the market, especially over the internet.  Here are some tips to help you avoid these imitations:

  • Genuine malachite is very cold, very heavy and feels hard.  It is heavier than solid glass or plastic, and feels ‘dense’ and ice cold when held and touched.  The striped patterns are called ‘banding’.  Genuine malachite is not uniform in its patterns and colours; you’ll find circles, speckles and thin to thick parts in the patterns, and dark to light-green hues.
  • Fake malachite comes in many forms.  Plastic fake malachite is easy to spot as it’s lightweight and warm to the touch.  However, fake-malachite made from glass, is cold and hard to the touch like genuine malachite, but because it’s glass it will warm up in your hand much quicker (real malachite won’t warm up much at all; it remains cold – this applies to a lot of gemstones by the way).
  • Beware new malachite pendants! The area I’ve seen the most fakes in is the ‘Choose Your Stone’ type pendants (such as dagger shapes, moon shapes, silver-set cabochon stones, angel shapes, heart shapes etc), where you can choose from a variety of gemstones; I’ve never seen a real malachite stone in those pendants yet.
  • Genuine pure Malachite is always green.  So called ‘red malachite’ is simply a fancy name for a type of red jasper. Multi coloured ‘malachite’ is cheap dyed Howlite. However, malachite does occur naturally with a rich blue mineral called Azurite, which can create a stunning mix of azure and green colours; these genuine gemstones will be labelled as ‘Azurite malachite’ and are quite collectable.

Here are some examples of FAKE malachite:

FAKE: This is a coral and malachite mix stamped 925 sterling silver pendant - but it is in fact a fake - both the coral and malachite are made from glass. Coral and malachite mix jewellery is notorious for being fake - in fact the only real one I've ever come across was an antique bangle from about 100 years ago.

FAKE: This seems to be a coral and malachite stamped 925 sterling silver pendant, but it is in fact a fake – both the coral and malachite are made from glass. Beautiful coral and malachite mix jewellery has been made  around the world for many years, but is unfortunately flooded with fakes at the moment. My best advice would probably be to buy direct from the artisan themselves, or buy from a proper dealer who specializes in this type of jewellery (not a general jewellery or antiques dealer whom I’ve seen offer fake malachite/ coral Scottish Celtic style brooches genuinely convinced they were real) unless they can offer a full-guarantee of the authenticity of the stones.

 

Above: a fake malachite costume jewellery brooch. The centre faux-malachite is made from plastic, and the surrounding rhinestones are glass.

FAKE: a faux-malachite costume jewellery brooch. The centre faux-malachite is made from plastic, and the surrounding rhinestones are glass.

 

Vintage green glass imitation malachite bead necklace jewelry how to test malachite for fakes genuine real gemstones tips

FAKE. This is a glass fake malachite necklace. The banding is too uniform, with non of the patterned circles or flourishes genuine malachite has.

vintage 1970s glass coral malachite glass scottish agate bracelet how to test malachite for fakes genuine real gemstones tips

FAKE. Selling imitation malachite, as seen in the above green glass imitation  vintage 1970s bracelet, is fine (in fact there’s a jewelry collecting niche for glass imitation gemstones), as long as the seller clearly points out the stones are not real malachite.

Reconstituted malachite fake tips avoid how to test malachite for fakes genuine real gemstones tips

FAKE. This is re-processed or reconstituted malachite, and is made from crushed leftovers of the gemstone, mixed with dyes and resins. It still feels cold like genuine malachite would, but is lighter in weight and doesn’t feel as solid.

 

Here are some examples of REAL malachite:

 

Genuine real solid malachite gemstone cufflinks. Notice the sheer variety of colourization and patterns, from standard stripes to waves and unusual speckles.

REAL: Genuine real solid malachite gemstone cuff links. Notice the sheer variety of colourization and patterns, from standard stripes to waves and unusual speckles.

     

    vintage 1970s malachite brass bangle how to test malachite for fakes genuine real gemstones tips

    REAL: vintage 1970s malachite brass bangle, made from small panels of malachite gemstone.  Up to now, man cannot 100% reproduce malachite patterns accurately, nor its distinct green colours which can range from deepest forest green to teal green to light green all in one bead or panel.

    Vintage 1970s Malachite bead necklace earrings set how to test malachite for fakes genuine real gemstones tips

    REAL: This is a genuine vintage malachite necklace. dating circa 1970s. How could I tell? Firstly, it was very heavy and cold (and the beads didn’t warm up in my hands). Secondly, the beads were not a uniform round shape – some were slightly too oval, meaning they were likely to have been hand finished. Thirdly, the banding patterns were too ‘natural’ to be fake which is tied directly to the fourth way; experience. I’ve handled a lot of malachite over the years (as well as many imitations) and you just get a feel for it. To help you get started, why not visit some museums, which often have large chunks of the real stuff in gemology displays, or visit antique fairs and handle it. Reputable jewelers and gemologists should be happy to help you buy an affordable beginners piece, and why not also buy some properly labeled imitations so you can compare the two (ie, reconstituted malachite, plastic, glass).

    REAL: These are very old vintage malachites, very dark green, very heavy, and knotted in between for security (in fact knotting can be a good (but not 100%) sign of genuine gemstones, as knotting is a laborious process and it's not particularly cost effective to do it on faux stones.

    REAL: These are very old malachites from a vintage 1950s flapper necklace –  very dark green, very heavy, and knotted in between for security. Knotting can be a good (but not 100%) sign of genuine gemstones, as it is a laborious process and it’s not particularly cost effective to do it on faux gemstones.

     

    REAL: Genuine malachite beads. Note how the beads aren't perfectly round; this is because they have been hand cut and finished - a sure sign of genuine malachite beads.

    REAL: Genuine malachite beads. Note how the beads aren’t perfectly round; this is because they have been hand cut and finished – a good sign of genuine malachite beads.

     

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    7 thoughts on “Tips on how to identify and avoid fake malachite gemstones.

    1. Pingback: Quick fire jewellery questions and answers .. | The Jewellery Muse

    2. Would the reconstituted malachite be as heavy and cold as genuine given it is actually made from malachite but mixed with resin etc.. Or would it be lighter and warm up quickly? I have a few malachite items and i am not sure which they are? My guess is perhaps reconstituted malachite?!

      • In my own experience, reconstituted malachite is usually as cold as normal malachite, but feels a bit lighter. If you wanted to, you could take some photos and put them up on Instagram/ Flickr/ Facebook or Pinterest etc, and I could have a look at them and see if I can help you discover what they are.

        • Hi Bill,
          Thanks for visiting 🙂 I can’t accept downloads of photos (any emails sent to me with photos/ attachments/ downloads are automatically deleted in my email box), though you could upload your photos to Flickr/ Photobucket/ Dropbox/ or Instagram etc, and send me a link to them at info@nicabrac.co.uk.

    3. Pingback: Beyond Boxed Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 2 – creativedesignsbyhalima

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