Post by Thandie
Malachite. Originally discovered in Egypt, this rich, deep green, copper-based stone has been used in jewellery and ornaments for thousands of years. Its patterned bands of contrasting green, like the dendrochronology of trees, are mesmerising. For some, malachite holds spiritual meaning too – thought to protect the wearer from evil spirits, it was often used as a guardian stone for children and travellers.
Most Malachite today comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – also Zimbabwe, Zambia, Gabon and Namibia (always try and find out if your purchases are conflict-free. Under the Dodd-Frank Act you have the right to know the source of minerals).
As I was two when we left, I don’t have actual memories of Africa; only internalised stories that I’d cling to with pride. Our house in Cornwall was decorated simply. My Dad was an antique dealer so we were familiar with beautiful objects – and soaked up knowledge of place and history in his daily dealings. I’d spend Saturdays in the shop he ran with my Grandad – I’d polish the brass and silver. Whenever I arrived my Grandad would say “Here’s my little ray of sunshine”. Happy days.
To me, our house was where we stored the really precious prizes. Artefacts from Southern Africa – Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe. These places were my heritage – the place where my parents met and fell in love, where my brother was born and where we lived with a chameleon called Dorcas as our pet.
Now in Cornwall; large, ornate masks decorated with beads and shells, hung from the wall. Mum had garlands of beaded necklaces – so intricate I couldn’t see where the design began and ended. These were all from their travels around Southern Africa; physical pieces of that place, to ground them in their new home. And the most precious of all – MALACHITE.
We had small carvings, jewellery (see Kay above wearing Mum’s necklace) – we daren’t touch, only stare at the gorgeous green patterns, in awe. I was pretty sure no other kid knew what Malachite was. The closest they got was Kryptonite.
No, Malachite stored all the secrets of Zimbabwe for me – my ancestral home. It seemed a living, energetic, mystical thing. It is so unusually beautiful that one can’t help but be in awe.
My Mum pointed out recently, that Malachite can be poisonous if used improperly (isn’t that strangely true for absolutely everything?). If the stone is not sealed, the dust from wear and tear is toxic if inhaled. Look, but don’t touch.
It’s funny to me to see how Malachite has been used in other parts of the world – particularly in Chintzy, garish decor. Actually that’s precisely my favourite kind – good old 70s mishmash of cultures and naughty reproductions.
I was in the super cool and chilled Covell Hotel in Los Angeles recently, and I walked into my room and was surrounded by wallpaper emblazoned with a malachite design. Heaven.
And this season check out the poisonously delicious Louboutin patent malachite stilettos.
Malachite is a trend!
Whether it’s the real thing, or a more sober reproduction, I recommend having at least one moment of malachite in your life. Dance with danger. Meow!