What is the Difference Between Malachite and Chrysocolla

Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. Formed naturally with a specific chemical makeup, they often have beautiful crystal structures. They come in different varieties. Malachite and chrysocolla are two such minerals.

What is the difference between malachite and chrysocolla? Malachite is copper carbonate hydroxide, whereas chrysocolla is hydrated copper silicate.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Malachite  
      – Definition, Features, Applications
2. What is Chrysocolla
      – Definition, Features, Applications 
3. Similarities Between Malachite and Chrysocolla
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Malachite and Chrysocolla
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Malachite and Chrysocolla 
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Malachite, Chrysocolla, Minerals

Difference Between Malachite and Chrysocolla - Comparison Summary

What is Malachite

Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral that is green in color. The chemical formula of this mineral is Cu2CO3(OH)3, with copper (Cu) ions each bonded to two hydroxyl (OH) ions and two carbonate (CO3) groups. These carbonate groups, with their central carbon atom surrounded by three oxygen atoms, form a triangular structure. The copper ions, along with the hydroxyl groups, form chains that weave between these carbonate triangles. The banded patterns of this mineral are due to the oxidized zones above the copper deposits.


Figure 1: Malachite

Malachite most commonly forms in shapes like botryoidal clusters or stalagmitic masses. Trace amounts of other metals like zinc, cobalt, or nickel can slightly alter its coloration or even create a banded effect, where different shades of green appear side-by-side.

Malachite is mainly used as an ornamental gemstone due to its vibrant green with captivating bands. Malachite was a significant source of green pigment, particularly in ancient paint. It is used in jewelry design and making beautiful decorative objects. Sometimes, it may also indicate the presence of copper ore.

What is Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla is a hydrated copper silicate mineral. The chemical formula of it is (Cu,Al)2H2Si22O5(OH)4·nH2O.  Copper is responsible for the blue-green color of this mineral. Hydroxyl groups contribute to the water content represented by “nH2O” in the formula. The “n” signifies that the amount of water can vary within the mineral.

Moreover, the silicate groups (Si2O5) in the structure act as the corner pieces, linking together to form a chain-like structure. Copper and aluminum ions fill the gaps within this chain, each bonded to hydroxyl groups and oxygen atoms from the silicate groups.


Figure 2: Chrysocolla

Other elements present in the mineral influence its structure and color. Trace amounts of iron can lead to a more greenish hue, while manganese might contribute to brownish tones. The variable water content can affect the hardness and overall stability of the mineral. Among the applications of chrysocolla are making jewelry, decorative objects, sculptures, and art pieces.

Similarities Between Malachite and Chrysocolla

  1. Both minerals form in the oxidation zones of copper deposits.
  2. Moreover, the colors of both minerals stem from their copper content.
  3. Both malachite and chrysocolla are prized for their beauty.
  4. Both minerals are relatively soft, ranking around 3.5 on the Mohs scale.

Difference Between Malachite and Chrysocolla


  • Malachite is copper carbonate hydroxide, with the chemical formula Cu2CO3(OH)3 while chrysocolla is hydrated copper silicate, with the chemical formula (Cu,Al)2H2Si22O5(OH)4·nH2O.


  • Malachite is vibrant green, often with banded patterns, whereas chrysocolla is blue-green, sometimes lighter, or with a more turquoise hue.


  • Malachite ranks 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale (relatively soft), whereas chrysocolla can vary depending on composition but is generally softer than malachite (around 3.5 on the Mohs scale).

Water Content

  • Malachite does not contain water molecules in its structure, while chrysocolla contains variable water content (represented by nH2O in its formula), which can affect its hardness and stability.


Malachite is copper carbonate hydroxide while chrysocolla is hydrated copper silicate. Malachite has a vibrant green color and banded patterns. Chrysocolla is known for its blue-green and water content. This is the basic difference between malachite and chrysocolla.

FAQ: Malachite and Chrysocolla

1. What is another name for chrysocolla?

Chrysocolla may be sometimes known as beaumontite, bisbeeite, dillenbergite, or copper pitchblende. However, it’s important to note that these terms are not widely used.

2. What is the difference between azurite and chrysocolla?

Azurite has a deep, royal blue, while chrysocolla can range from bright blue to green. Chrysocolla is also harder and more stable than azurite. This is the basic difference between azurite and chrysocolla.

3. What is the difference between chrysocolla and turquoise?

Turquoise is tougher, a 5-6 on the Mohs scale, while chrysocolla is softer at 2.5-3.5. This means turquoise polishes better and is more durable for jewelry. This is the basic difference between chrysocolla and turquoise.

4. What is malachite used for?

Malachite is used as a gemstone in jewelry and carvings. Historically, it was ground up for use as a green pigment.

5. What are the disadvantages of malachite?

Malachite is a toxic mineral that can cause organ damage, even cancer if inhaled or ingested. Its history as a pigment is fading due to safer alternatives.


1. “Malachite – An Overview.” Science Direct.
2. “Chrysocolla.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Malachite, Zaire” By JJ Harrison – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Chrysocolla-230109” By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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