The moldavite is a mysterious, purely Czech gemstone. Over the years, it’s amassed many legends: people thought it might be pieces of a glass meteorite, or tears shed by comets, or maybe even fragments of the Moon that have fallen to the Earth. Its unique features, mysterious origins and profound rarity in the Czech Republic make it the most extraordinary gem in the whole world.
If you’re looking for a gemstone that’s truly one-of-a-kind, one that not many people’s jewellery boxes can boast and a stone that will make you shine like a bright star across the night sky, then the moldavite is the perfect gem for you. In our KLENOTA collections, you’ll find moldavite rings primarily paired with sleek white gold and warm yellow gold.
The ancient history of the moldavite, its discovery and its mysterious origin
The moldavite was first “officially” introduced to the public in 1787 in an essay by Professor Josef Mayer; however, people have known moldavites since the Stone Age, when the natural glass made the perfect primitive tool for processing food and leather and making weapons. Residents of South Bohemia were also tilling up moldavite deposits in their fields long before Mayer put pen to paper in 1787.
Even still, the origin of this stone remained a mystery for some time. Many scientists devoted their studies to the moldavite, and among them was Franz Eduard Suess, an Austrian scientist working in Prague. He was the first to correctly identify moldavites as tektites: shards of natural glass that originally formed from the debris of meteorite impacts.
Traditions, legends and myths
Czechs in South Bohemia had a lovely tradition involving moldavites in the days of yore. Every man that wanted to marry his True Love had to first give her a moldavite for the wedding. Thus, the moldavite became the stone of love--proof of the feelings the man had for the woman.
Moldavites, similarly to other stones, were also used for healing purposes. In the fields and farmlands, they had a cosmic meaning. They were thought to be able to expose diseases in the body before the person displayed symptoms and even stimulate the immune system to fight back. It’s widely believed that moldavites affect not only our physical essence, but the mental, as well--strengthening our intuition and reasoning skills.
A bit of science: the unique moldavite features
Moldavites are vastly different from other gemstones due to their unusual origin. They don’t have a crystalline structure, so each and every stone is a true original. No two are exactly the same! From the chemical point of view, moldavites are fused silica (SiO2) with varying deposits of aluminum or potassium, small deposits of iron (less than 0.4%) and almost no water content (just 0.02%).
Moldavites are clear or transparent with green, black-green or brown-green hues, and categorically, they’re tektites. Even more so, moldavites are the only naturally occurring European tektites! Being born from celestial collisions with our Earth, moldavites can have a lot of variations. They’re most often found in spherical, ellipsoidal, egg-shaped or flattened shapes, but their surfaces are full of various striations, depressions, spikes and bumps. Their various structures (called sculptation) and unique colours (varying green hues) ensure that every stone is truly one-of-a-kind. Other moldavite characteristics make them perfect for your favorite jewellery: their hardness (5.5-6.5), white streak, glassy lustre and conchoidal fractures make beautiful accessories for your everyday life. Just make sure to avoid hydrofluoric acid, which will damage your lovely moldavite.
The secret of the moldavite revealed
The origin of the moldavite was a mystery for the longest time. One of the first theories spoke about moldavites as having a cosmic origin: beautiful fragments of meteorites that fell to the Earth. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. Later, scientists were able to build on this theory to form a more detailed story which is universally acknowledged now.
In the Miocene epoch, some 15 million years ago, a meteorite really did fall to the Earth. Thought to have been more than 1 kilometer wide and falling from the west, the meteorite slammed into the Earth at an angle in the region of modern-day Bavaria. Even today, we can see the impact: Nördlinger Ries in Western Bavaria, Germany is an impact crater with a diameter of nearly 24 km and a depth of 600 m. Scientists think the meteorite may have slightly broken up on entering the atmosphere, as it also created another crater about 30 km from the main impact point.
Most scientists agree the rock from which moldavites formed was already in the earth and, as the meteorite neared, this silica-rich rock melted and was then blasted out into the atmosphere during the collision. This blast of hot rock and other debris was thrown several hundred kilometers (about 450!) and landed in South Bohemia and Moravia. Cooling mid-flight, their shapes solidified. It sounds out-of-this-world, but that’s what makes moldavites so great! And the science backs it up: bubbles formed in the hot rocks as they flew through the air, and these bubbles have an internal pressure 19-25 times lower than that of sea level, leading scientists to believe these bubbles formed in the higher layers of Earth’s atmosphere. After falling to Earth, they were further transformed by water, other rocks and dirt to create the depressions and striations typical of the stone. As you can see, the moldavite has made a long journey to get to that pretty ring on your finger!
Each moldavite is an original
Moldavites originating from the various post-collision landing zones have different properties. Stones found in South Bohemia generally have more bubbles, greener hues and more sculptation. South Moravian moldavites tend to be larger, more brownish and darker, without as many striations.
Moldavites of all localities can also contain inclusions. Most often, these inclusions are a rare natural glass called lechatelierite. Longer, fibrous structures in yellow, green or brown shades can also be found in moldavites, but these are only visible with a microscope.
How to pick the right one
Nowadays, both cut and rough stones are used in jewellery, as are “glyptics” (artistic objects carved from gemstones). Moldavites are valued using several properties: integrity, size, shape, striation structure and colour. If you’re looking to purchase a stone as an investment, we recommend a rough stone, in order to best preserve those properties. Rough moldavites could be the way to go: the only mines producing high-quality stones are found in the Czech Republic, so these cosmic treasures are expected to quickly increase in value.
Although rough stones might be the best investment, cut moldavites are second to none when it comes to their fascinating colours. In larger moldavites, the colour is really only prominent when held up to light. Otherwise, they appear dark, or even black. To best preserve that gorgeous green hue, moldavites are most often cut in round or oval shapes. If you’re looking for the wow factor of a larger stone, we recommend you check out the cushion cut, which has more of a rounded-square shape.
Moldavites are as rare and magical as a shooting star, but what would a shooting star be without its glittering tail? Pairing your moldavites with sparkling white diamonds accentuates their naturally beautiful, mysteriously green hue. Set everything in yellow or white gold, and you’re sure to light up any room!
How to buy the right moldavite and preserve its beauty for a long time
Even though it’s a true, rare beauty, the moldavite is still glass, so it can be quite fragile and easily broken. In general, heat won’t damage the stone, but extreme temperature shocks might, due to the stone’s bubbles and inclusions, so always be careful and mindful of your one-of-a-kind stone.
As with any gemstone, there are many out there that want to trick you. Before, moldavites were sometimes replaced with bottle-green glass, and it was almost impossible for people to differentiate between them. Now, though, we can easily identify real moldavites from the fakes, thanks to microscopic analyses. Here at Klenota, we pride ourselves in the beauty and the value of our real, certified gemstones, so when you buy KLENOTA jewels we guarantee the authenticity of the stone and include a certificate of authenticity with each piece of jewellery for free!
Where moldavites are mined
The moldavites that are suitable for jewellery-making are only found in Bohemia in the Czech Republic. 99% of all moldavites come from South Bohemia, but they can also be found in the far west region of Czech Republic, near Dresden, Germany or near Radessen, Austria. A popular place for moldavite mining is near Besednice and Chlum in South Bohemia. Moldavites from this area are so well-known for their unique spikes that they’re nicknamed “hedgehogs”.
Records and interesting facts
Moldavites found in Bohemia tend to be smaller than their Moravian counterparts. One of the largest moldavites found in Bohemia was found in 1980 and weighs 142.4 grammes (over 5 ounces!). Among the largest Moravian moldavites is the Slavic Moldavite (1971), weighing a whopping 265.5 grammes.
Moldavites were very popular in the Art Nouveau movement, but unfortunately, their time in the limelight did not last long. Their demise was caused by counterfeiters, who would sell cut bottle-green glass instead of the true, genuine Czech stones. People lost trust in the traders. However, moldavites rose to the spotlight again when Queen Elizabeth II was gifted a collection of jewellery from the Swiss government. Prominent among the diamonds, black pearls and other jewellery was a natural, uncut moldavite. The public was once again taken with its mysterious hues, and the moldavite was in demand once more.
A HELPFUL TIP BEFORE YOU GO: If you find yourself in the Czech Republic and want to know more about this unique stone, we highly recommend the museums in Český Krumlov, České Budějovice or Týn nad Vltavou.