CHRYSOCOLLA & MALACHITE

09610

Locality

Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo

Dimensions (H x W x D)

28.4 x 19.5 x 1.5 cm

Weight

1.344 kg

Description & Provenance

Of all the incredible malachite specimens recovered from the Katanga Copper Crescent of Congo, there is only one known incidence of a stalactite producing chrysocolla with stunning malachite “eyes,” and azurite rings at this level of quality. This cut and polished slice is a segment of that single stalactite which was an amalgamation of multiple, intergrown stalactites. The overall piece was cut into approximately twenty slices of varying sizes and degrees of detail. Due to the natural tendency for stalactites to thin and taper towards their tips, the slices from the thinner half were limited by their size and unable to exhibit as much detail or color as the larger segments that came from the stalactite’s base. The most ornate and impressive of the twenty slices amounted to less than a dozen large pieces that were closest to the pocket’s ceiling. In fact, even amongst the top ten pieces, the difference in aesthetics, quality, and detail is significant. The finest two or three examples benefit from their size and have the greatest detail and impact. This example is one of those limited pieces.

 

It’s difficult to imagine that at one point, the stalactite’s rind of malachite concealed this utterly arresting display of richly saturated chrysocolla, malachite, and azurite. The stalactite’s interlocked system of colors is not only beautiful, but much like the rings of a tree, it illustrates a slow, transformative growth that spanned the course of many, many years. One can surmise that the group of malachite stalactites formed first and that environmental changes within the mine caused the chemical variation necessary for the azurite and chrysocolla to form instead after the malachite. Eventually the girth of each stalactite blended the forms together, locking them into one massive piece. Finally, the specimen was covered by a layer of malachite that created a green shell around the stalactite. Cut at its cross-section, this specimen is a singular, solid sheet of intense color. Its eye-catching display and unique formation make this a captivating addition to any collection or stand-alone objet d’art.

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