The trick to visiting the wholesale shows in Tucson is to make sure that you hit the dealers with the best material first. The entire city is taken over by rock shows for the last half of winter and dealers from all over the world show up ready to sell every kind of stone imaginable! In a week you can only see a fraction of what's been brought to town, and you can only be so many places on that first critical weekend. A couple of years ago I came across a fellow selling some of the best prepared malachite carvings and display specimens I'd ever seen and I swore I'd get to his booth early the next time to see just how good his best material was. Boy was I glad to be there as he was unpacking his crates! I helped him unwrap box after box of some of the largest, most spectacular dark green malachite specimens I'd ever seen and that includes those I've seen in museums! All of these pieces could be cut to yield a lot of jewelry stones, but malachite is such an incredible natural phenomenon that you just about have to have a large piece to fully appreciate how it formed and why it's so beautiful in smaller pieces.
I had first pick of several hundred pounds of top grade specimens. I chose my stash from the very best of what came in this year. All of this malachite is mined in Zaire, Africa. I concentrated on the largest, showiest pieces in the lot. These specimens are quite heavy and very blocky and all have gorgeous color and tons of pattern. They are also quite solid. The gem value in these stones alone is substantial, but as a world class specimen I don't think they can be beat!
Malachite forms as a large botryoidal deposit in seems in this deposit. The side that lined the cave wall is typically bumpy and porous, and it forms layers that can sometimes turn to large bumps, bubbles and even stalactites. Each layer is a different shade of green which is what gives the stone its fantastic banded green pattern. The workers who polished this ground around and into some of the faces of the bubbles to reveal the concentric rings and eyes that make this such a fabulous show piece. The polish is quite good for an imported specimen, one of the things that set this dealer's material apart from other malachite importers.
This nice big specimen was definitely one of the showiest in the lot and if you could have seen it all you'd appreciate how magnificent that really makes this one! It's a particularly attractive green one that is covered with eyes and rings that you can only barely appreciate from the 2-D photo. It's also fairly large and really shows how this magnificent gem mineral coated the openings it formed in with layer after layer of green beauty!
It measures about 3 3/4" x 3 1/2" long across the widest point on the stone and formed as a large, standing bubbly nodule that is a maximum of about 2" thick. It weighs in at 1.3 lbs!! Not bad for a gemstone normally sold by the gram!
A nice, unique naturally wonderful stone collectible exclusively from Sticks-in-Stones Lapidary.