Large malachite products are made using the mosaic technique. This method of Russian mosaic was used in the facing of columns in St. Isaac’s Cathedral. To do this, the mineral was sawn into plates, which were then cut out and fitted in accordance with the pattern. Thus, the plates merge into one pattern. It is very difficult to believe that this is not a whole scythe of stone, but a mosaic folded by the skillful hands of masters.
History of malachite in Russia
In Russia, malachite has been known since the 17th century, but the massive use of the stone began only in the 18th century, when huge malachite monoliths were found at the Gumeshevsky mine. Since then, the mineral has been decorating expensive palace interiors. From the middle of the XIX century. tens of tons were brought from the Urals annually. In the State Hermitage, the famous Malachite Hall required 2 tons of malachite. There is also a large malachite vase. Products made of malachite can also be found in the Grand Kremlin Palace in the Catherine Hall. But the most amazing in size and beauty are the columns at the altar of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, their height is 10 m.
Unknowing people think that columns and vases are monolithic items. In fact, these items are made of plaster, metal, or some other material. And on top they are faced with malachite tiles – a kind of malachite “plywood”.
Moreover, the larger the original piece of malachite was, the larger the tiles were cut from it. And to save valuable natural material, the tile thickness was 1 mm. But the main trick was to lay the tiles in tact, taking into account the pattern, so that each of them is a continuation of the previous one.
Malachite is a valuable industrial ore. But its significance is very limited, since the malachite accumulation is concentrated in the upper, rapidly mined layer of the copper deposit. Flowing malachite with a beautiful pattern is a valuable ornamental stone, widely used in decorative and artistic products.
MALAKHITE BOX AND OTHER PRODUCTS FROM MALACHITE in Russia
Today the mineral is supplied from Zaire, Africa, Kazakhstan, Western Europe. In the form of a large mass, the gem is less common. In Russia, the Mednorudyansky mine, located near Nizhny Tagil, is the leader in mining, in second place is the Gumeshevsky mine, where a large block of malachite was mined, the weight of which was 1.5 tons.
The lump is in the Mining Institute. There are also other Ural deposits. Malachite is also found in Kazakhstan and Altai. If earlier there was the main mining of malachite in the Urals, today in this area it has been stopped, since these deposits are depleted. And once they were very rich malachite clusters.
By the way, the Ural malachite was discovered back in 1635, and already in the 19th century. it was mined up to 80 tons per year. These were weighty blocks of high quality natural mineral. The weight of the largest block was 250 tons, it was found in 1835. In 1913 a block with a mass of more than 100 tons was discovered.
DEPOSITS OF MALAKHIT IN THE URALS
Dense malachite in solid masses went to malachite jewelry (pendants, necklaces, earrings, rings, cufflinks). And individual grains of a mineral distributed in the rock (earthy malachite) and small accumulations of pure gem were used to make high-quality green paint, the so-called “malachite green”. Do not confuse “malachite green” with “malachite green”, which is a simple organic dye and has in common with the mineral, except perhaps the color.
In Yekaterinburg, before the revolution, one could observe the bluish-green roofs of many mansions. They were painted with malachite, which attracted not only connoisseurs of everything beautiful, but also the masters of copper smelting. Copper was mined exclusively from stones that were of no value to artists and jewelers. Solid pieces were used only for making jewelry.
In smaller quantities, but today malachite is also mined, mining is carried out in Western Europe: in Chessy, Retzbania, Cornwall, in the Harz. Today’s main gem-quality malachite deposits are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The African stone is characterized by regular concentric rings of a small size with a more contrasting change of dark and light layers. Unlike this mineral, the Ural gems have irregular ring shapes.