Historical information

Malachite is a green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral and was one of the first ores used to make copper metal. Malachite has been utilised as a gemstone and sculptural material in the past as its distinctive green color does not fade when exposed to light or after long periods of time. Malachite is formed at shallow depths in the ground, in the oxidizing zone above copper deposits. The material has also been used as a pigment for painting throughout history.

Malachite is considered a rare gemstone in that the original deposits for the stones have been depleted leaving behind very few sources. In addition, the use of Malachite as gemstones and sculptural materials remains just as popular today as they were throughout history. It is quite common to cut the stone into beads for jewellery. The fact that Malachite has such a rich colour and one that does not fade with time or when exposed to light makes it particularly rare.

Although there is no indication available of the locality from which the specimen was sourced, it is likely that the specimen was collected either in South Australia in the vicinity of the Burra Burra mines or in Victoria as part of programs of geological surveying undertaken in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries.


This specimen is part of a larger collection of geological and mineral specimens collected from around Australia (and some parts of the world) and donated to the Burke Museum between 1868-1880. A large percentage of these specimens were collected in Victoria as part of the Geological Survey of Victoria that begun in 1852 (in response to the Gold Rush) to study and map the geology of Victoria. Collecting geological specimens was an important part of mapping and understanding the scientific makeup of the earth. Many of these specimens were sent to research and collecting organisations across Australia, including the Burke Museum, to educate and encourage further study.

Physical description

A solid hand-sized copper carbonate hydroxide mineral with quartz pebbles in red conglomorate matrix presenting shades of cream, brown and green.

Inscriptions & markings

Existing label:
Malachite / (green) in /
conglomerate / (white quartz /
pebbles / in red matrix /