Malachite is a common mineral that is easily identifiable by its gorgeous banded and varied shades of greens.
However, with over 50% copper content, it is pretty toxic if ingested or inhaled. This is why those who cut and polish this beautiful mineral need to wear protective gear.
Many mineral and gem shows sell Malachite specimens in both the raw or rough forms as well as the polished forms.
The one I went to had both and I picked up this raw piece that was crumbly and dusty. It is safe to handle as long as you do so with care.
However, as an artisan, I wouldn’t wrap a raw piece like this simply because of safety issues–not just for me but for my customers as well.
Gem Society lists Malachite as as high toxicity risk on its Gemstone Toxicity Table and reminds artisans who cut, facet and polish minerals to learn about gemstone toxicity as it relates to three main activities: normal handling (like me at the mineral show), cutting and ingestion.
A lot of crystal healers often make gem elixirs with various crystals for either ingestion or topical (perfumes, oils etc) uses. You can not do this with toxic minerals (unless indirectly in a way where the mineral does not touch the water).
Lynn’s Story (RocknGem.com)
A lapidary artist by the name of Lynn blogged about her experience. She experienced the effects of breathing in Malachite dust firsthand and shared her story.
After cutting malachite, turquoise and chrysocolla (all create a toxic dust) she experienced several health issues.
She learned the hard way that breathing in the dust from doing lapidary work could be deadly and that it attacks the lungs in a variety of ways.
The first thing this dust does to the lungs is coats the inner lining and block the transmission of oxygen into the bloodstream.
Next, tiny fragments slice into the alveoli that coat the inner lining of the lungs. Sounds horrifyingly painful. I have asthma and my lungs hurt for hers after reading her story.
I love collecting gems and minerals and love working them into jewelry, but some you do have to be careful with and handle with care. Malachite is definitely one of those.