Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gemstone of the Week: Moldavite

(Moldavite image found on commons.wikimedia.org
(Moldavite image found on ebay.com)

Moldavite is a beautiful and interesting "gemstone."  You may be wondering why I've placed the gemstone in quotation marks, well, the reason is that Moldavite is actually a naturally occurring green glass.  Moldavite was first discovered in 1787 along  the Moldau River in Czechoslovakia. It is a type of impact tektite (also called an impactite) and generally though to have formed from the heat and impact of a meteorite in Bavaria.  The impact (and the heat involved in it) transforms silica in the gound into larger, and oddly shaped, pieces of glass.  I have also read that some have though that Moldavite may be the outer surface of the meteorites that fused and melted as they entered the earth's atmosphere. However, as meteorites have hit in many locations yet Moldavite is only found in a few locations in the Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany and only in areas newest to the Moldau River Valley this is likely not accurate.  I have also yet to see this theory supported elsewhere, but, really, I don't think anyone actually knows for sure how Moldavite formed. The colour is no doubt do  to what ever minerals were present in the soil. Moldavite has a hardness of about 5-5.5.  The colourant in Moldavite is believed to be iron.  It is found in a variety of shades of green, however, beware of so-called Moldavites that look to be about the colour of 7UP bottles at this is most often the colour of fake (man-made) "Moldavite."

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