Donate now to keep alive!Help|Log In|Register|
Home PageMindat NewsThe Mindat ManualHistory of MindatCopyright StatusManagement TeamContact UsAdvertise on Mindat
Donate to MindatSponsor a PageSponsored PagesTop Available PagesMindat AdvertisersAdvertise on Mindat
What is a mineral?The most common minerals on earthMineral PhotographyThe Elements and their MineralsGeological TimeMineral Evolution
Minerals by PropertiesMinerals by ChemistryAdvanced Locality SearchRandom MineralRandom LocalitySearch by minIDLocalities Near MeSearch ArticlesSearch GlossaryMore Search Options
Search For:
Mineral Name:
Locality Name:
The Mindat ManualAdd a New PhotoRate PhotosLocality Edit ReportCoordinate Completion ReportAdd Glossary Item
StatisticsThe ElementsMember ListBooks & MagazinesMineral MuseumsMineral Shows & EventsThe Mindat DirectoryDevice Settings
Photo SearchPhoto GalleriesNew Photos TodayNew Photos YesterdayMembers' Photo GalleriesPast Photo of the Day Gallery

African Moldavite??

Posted by Mike the Nobody  
Mike the Nobody February 25, 2007 12:33AM
A while back I bought some "African Moldavite" on eBay. When I got it, it just looked like flat green glass beads about the size of your thumbnail with a white powder coating all over. Is there any such thing in nature called African Moldavite? or was I had?
Paul L. Boyer February 25, 2007 01:57AM
I did a quick internet search, and the vast majority listed African Moldavite as a fake. Their opinion was that it was bottle glass (from bottles themselves or the raw blanks of glass) or some form of obsidian. There was also the opinion that only samples from the Czech and Moravian regions could truely called Moldavite. If there are samples of tektites from Africa, they might be similar but unlikely to come from the same strike and shouldn't have that name (sort of like the hiddenite thread that was covered in MinDat).
lobo52479 February 25, 2007 02:33AM
Paul is right. Moldavite is not found in Africa. Other tektites are found in Africa, but not Moldavite, nor have I heard of any other AUTHENTIC green tektites being found in Africa.
Alfredo Petrov February 25, 2007 02:40AM
Green bottle glass pebbles naturally tumbled on the beach???
Beware also of "Tibetan tektites"!
tomGG March 08, 2007 11:47PM
The GIA lists the refractive index (RI) of Moldavite as 1.480-1.510 and Specific Gravity (SG) as 2.32=2.40.

For Obsidian the RI = 1.480-1.510 and SG=2.33-2.50

For Libyan Desert Glass RI=1.460 SG=2.20.

See the GIA Gem Reference Guide pages 132-134.

The two pieces of African Moldavite I tested had RI = 1.518 to 1.529 and SG = 2.46-2.48. The African Moldavite seems too heavy and has too high of indices of refraction to be natural glass.

Tom Ph.D. Graduate Gemologist.
Christine Johnson April 12, 2007 02:19AM
So called "African Moldavite" is being sold by new age shops in New Zealand at present, at rather expensive prices, so I'm glad I read this thread - thanks for that info.

A bit like after Mt St Helens blew, shops here were full of lovely smooth, clear polished blue glass, which was claimed to be obsidian from that volcano ... yeah sure, as if! This same Mt St Helens rubbish also reappeared after Ruapehu erupted in 1995/6. Unfortunately, the new age shop owners don't know any difference.

Chris. J
Mme Ndiaye May 23, 2007 11:18AM
I believe there is a natural glass found at the base of Mt kilimanjaro, that is a TYPE of natural glass. The logistics in developing Africa for creating fakes and synthsising materials become to complicated. For if there were/are such producers of such materials. As there are melted glass here none of which I found to meet the quality of the original material that was found , in which I happen to be lucky enough to own three beautiful gems of the so called "African Moldavite" not bought on Ebay. The funny thing is that were the material was originally been found is harvested out. Can some one explain that?. As some developing countries in Africa are only worlds away and some light years behind the rest of the worlds progression, I have found the Gem Community only to ready to discredit materials gathered from this part of the world. Could it be posssible that an RI or SG reading could vary depending on natural factors such as tempreture,present minerals at the time of occurance given the height of Mt. Kilamanjaro etc. Could create another measurment criterion for materials present and yet to be discovered.
David Von Bargen May 23, 2007 11:40AM
Moldavites are usually classified as tecktites (a glass produced by meteorite impacts). Glasses produced from volcanic rocks are more properly called obsidian. Africa has a long history of man made glasses (Egyptians were doing that 5000 years ago).
jacques jedwab May 23, 2007 12:28PM
Lybian Desert glass is the natural object nearest to a tektite in that part of the world. It is light yellow, clear transparent, with few bubbles. Impactite status still debated, as far as I know.
Mirabai October 25, 2008 11:22PM
Alfredo, can you explain the "Beware of Tibetan Tektites" comment please? Could you give me some info? I just had a customer ask for some and I had never heard of it. Feeling it may just be another fake/fraud?
Alfredo Petrov October 26, 2008 01:25AM
Many years ago some sellers had ordinary southeast asian tektites (indochinites) and etched them in hydrofluoric acid to give them a deeply channeled surface like moldavites, and called them "Tibetan". In the mystical market, anything labelled "Tibetan" sells better! (Which is why some mystical dealers would take quartz crystals from Nepal or India and label them "Tibetan" - a relatively small shift of imaginary political boundaries ;-))

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/26/2008 01:29AM by Alfredo Petrov.
Alfredo Petrov October 26, 2008 08:02PM
I should add that the term "African Moldavite" that started this thread is an oxymoron anyway - a dead giveaway that a none-too-knowledgeable seller is trying to pull a fast one. Moldavite, by definition, is a tektite from the Moldau river basin strewn field so, whereas a term like "African Tektite" might make some sense (and there are tektites from the Ivory Coast), "African Moldavite" makes as much sense as "Inuit mangos".
Bob K January 10, 2010 08:21PM
It might not be moldavite, So is it natural or man made?
Rob Woodside January 10, 2010 08:55PM
In the last year or so I saw a program mentioning some African dessert glass. It was quite pale and there was a lot of it. I have some recollection of an air burst??? and the expedition morphing into or out of fossil hunting or an archaeology expedition.
Adam Kelly January 10, 2010 11:41PM
Rob, are you thinking of Lybian desert glass?
Usually yellow in color, it was used to make scarabs in the headpiece fro King Tut.
They have not pinpointed the cause of it as of yet, but due to inclusions in is believed meteor related.

P.S. it looks nothing like "african moldavite" which screams fake

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2010 11:41PM by Adam Kelly.
Rob Woodside January 11, 2010 12:02AM
I'm kind of hazy on it. I don't remember where it was, but now that you mention it I think it opened with Pharonic jewelry that I remember as being a little more yellow than what they found in the desert. So you are probably right Adam. It was the palest Tektite that I've ever seen. No one could confuse it with Moldavite.
Adam Kelly January 11, 2010 12:31AM
I have one that is about the color of amber, but has blue "flashes" of color due to apparently very rare inclusions.
I have handeled many kilos of this material and only seen two pieces, mine being the better.

I also have a large, but pale and milky one for trade.
Rob Woodside January 11, 2010 01:56AM
Do you know what the inclusions are? Could they shed light on the origin?
Stephanie Martin January 11, 2010 04:22AM
Re: LDG - They have studied the inclusions in LDG, and they're inconclusive! They do contain trace elements associated with meteors, but no impact site has been determined, hence the air burst theory. The temperature had to be intense because zircons tested from the glass showed melt evidence.

Re: other Moldavite - There is another trade name circulating called "White Moldavite" which is not even a tecktite at all! It is treated calcite, from the Mohave Desert in Arizona. There is also Moldavite incense and Moldavite oil, both containing "Essence of Moldavite". Perhaps I could interest you in some Moldavite from my fridge, growing on my cheese.

Caveat Emptor...
Jamey Swisher January 11, 2010 04:24AM
There is a natural green glass/obsidian found in Africa. I do not know the actual causes of it, but I do know it is NOT man-made. Every know and then our Kenyan miner friends hit some in the Tanzania/Merelani/Kenya/Mali/Umba/Tuduru region. My best guess is it is some sort of obsidian. Coloring caused by the high content of chromium in the ground in those regions. But I wouldn't call them tektites or moldavite, just a natural glass that no one seems to know the exact causes of.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Alfredo Petrov January 11, 2010 01:31PM
Jamey, I'd advise being very skeptical about "natural green glass/obsidian", especially if someone tries to sell you some for facetting. How do you "know" that it is "NOT manmade"? Because your miner friends told you they found it underground in the Tanzania/Merelani/Kenya/Mali/Umba/Tuduru region? I won't say anything is impossible, but bright green chrome-colored obsidian is highly unlikely. Far more likely that someone melted a chromium-bearing mineral artificially.
Jamey Swisher January 13, 2010 01:18AM
It is NOT bright green at all. Actually kind of darker. I have no idea if it is chromium colored or not, that was just an assumption/guess as to the coloring due to the large amounts of it in that area, especially when it comes to being present in material from those areas.

Honestly I have no reason to doubt my miner friends. We have known them and dealt with them for years. We have purchased everything from rough tanzanite to faceted untreated Pad Sapphires and they have never misrepresented anything in all the years dealing with them.

That said, I never bothered to purchase any of the green obsidian/glass. If I want to facet that stuff I will just buy some Helenite, it sells far quicker, lol. After all, glass is glass whether it is man-made or nature made, IMHO, still only glass when it comes right down to it.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Adam Kelly January 14, 2010 12:39AM
thanks for the info.
I did not know they contained zircons.
Now I NEED to look at it under a microscope.

Part of the reason I bought the piece,
is because this type of inclusion is interesting from a scientific standpoint.
I have seen wisps of similar inclusions, but mine is chock-full of it.
Making it priceless for study, I'l accept a personal check for one million. LOL
I know that they have not found an impact crater, which doesn't suprise me.
It's a big area with a lot of shifting sands, and the impact happened a long time ago.
So to awnser you question, no I don't know what they are...yet.

You should get one of these, get it tested, and shut me and Alfredo up about "green obsidian" once and for all.
Jamey Swisher January 16, 2010 07:27AM
Next time we order, I will inquire about if they have any of it on hand. :). It is dirt cheap anyways. Just never liked cutting glass, as it doesn't sell, except for Helenite and some of that new high RI glass out there now and the laser glasses. But couldn't hurt to get some of it and test. I have an Ocean Optics S2000 USB 200-850nm Spectrometer as well, so if chromium is present I can find it. :).

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Rusty James March 08, 2010 10:59PM
I bought a handful of this "African Moldavite" for fun about 8 years ago. It was as apple green as you could imagine. I was very skeptical of it from the beginning. I ran into another dealer a few years later who was a faceter and had a bunch of it cut. It was beautiful material, and not too expensive. He claimed it was naturally occurring, but he did not call it Moldavite. I just started calling it Spriteite. :) It was TOO green to be true. It looked more like Cryptonite or something...
SunCrow April 19, 2010 03:48PM
I had to do some research myself about African Moldavite. There is no such thing as moldavite being outside of the Czechlovakian area. Moldavite is tektite in a green color. However, the nickname "African Moldavite" was given to a kelly green stone found in a very remote jungle location in Africa and is mined from a river. It is not related to the real moldavite.

I has a large amount of chrome in it and that's what gives it its nice color. It is also from the Tanzania region. My educated guess is that it is volcanic glass. The other possibility is that it could be very ancient glass.

If the ebay person claimed that it was real moldavite then you where duped. So, it's a very misleading name, and may be deliberately misleading to supply the metaphysical sector with a stone they desire in ever greater quantities.
Jamey Swisher April 21, 2010 09:29AM
Exactly what we have found out so far SunCrow. Our miner friends are well versed in gemology, not sure if they are educated gemologists or not, but they are definitely taught by years, possibly generations from what I gather, of hands on experience. I did inquire about it, but they have not seen any in quite some time, regrettably. :(. I was gonna have them throw some in with our Winza ruby/sapphire, Lalemeta/Merelani yellow grossular garnet, and Umba sapphires/rubies order but no luck. :(. He did, again, confirm the material is naturally found and that the origins are unsure but thought to be volcanic. He did not know whether chromium was the chromophore or not though, but it doesn't surprise me that your research, SunCrow, showed that it is, or at least contains chromium. Either it or Vanadium. I mean just about everything from those locales in Africa contains chromium or vanadium, lol, never seen such a thing, numerous garnet species, zoisite, prehnite, chrysoberyl, alexandrite, corundum, etc. all containing one or the other.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
GreenxxStone September 16, 2011 04:48AM
Hi I noticed your posting and am very interested that the specific gravity is higher than glass. I purchased some moldavite from Africa and the stone is expertly cut and displays characters, to my eye, that are better than quartz and certainly better than glass. Is is a bright green and not muddy like the tektite moldavite. Are you able to tell me more about the piece you tested. Did you do a hardness test. Were you able to identify the mineral?

thanking you
Vítězslav Snášel September 16, 2011 06:04AM
Moldavite (specific name for the variant tektites) comes from only one place on earth - the Czech Republic.
The name is derived from the name of the river in Czech rep. - Vltava (in German language Moldau)
So your stone from Africa(it's whatever) can not be moldavite!

Some Moldavite see here


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2011 06:11AM by Vítězslav Snášel.
Harald Schillhammer September 16, 2011 03:12PM
Vítězslav Snášel Wrote:
> Moldavite (specific name for the variant tektites)
> comes from only one place on earth - the Czech
> Republic.

Well, sorry, but that's not 100% correct. Although the Czech Republic is definitely the major source of moldavites, they are also found in northern Lower Austria (in a gravel pit near Altenburg, if my memory does not cheat me). They are of the same origin but much rarer and smaller than the Czech ones.


Alfredo Petrov September 17, 2011 03:12AM
...and a few on the German side of the border too!
Vítězslav Snášel September 17, 2011 07:12AM
Oh - ofcourse - execuse me friends - correcting - Czech, Austria, German ! :)
But never from AFRICA !!!!!

Jamey Swisher October 04, 2011 05:51AM
First off, "African Moldavite" is NOT moldavite, it is merely a marketing name, like Tanzanite is for blue zoisite, or any other marketing gimmick. I don't think it being actual moldavite was ever a serious thought by many of us, lol. I still have not gotten my hands on any to test though to see if it is bottle glass, material from the eruption, or some more things read it could be glass melted from the eruption that was left over from ancient Egyptians, not sure anyone really knows for sure at this time, rofl.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
adriaan de jager37865/6/:6/6,;_ January 29, 2012 10:51AM
I think I found true african moldavite and what is it worth I got one kg
open | download - african moldavite.jpg (14.6 KB)
Craig Mercer January 29, 2012 11:13AM
Yeah Mike you were had, that stuff is exactly what you thought it was.
Mandala Rain January 29, 2012 06:02PM
It is only Moldavite if it is from that region in Czechoslovakia because it gets its name from the Moldau river.

They are not Herkimer Diamonds unless they are from Herkimer NY

It is not Champagne unless it is from that region in France,

and so on.

Anything else, even if it is a Tektite formed through a similar process, is NOT a moldavite.
Alfredo Petrov January 29, 2012 06:55PM
On the other hand, I've always been a bit amused when the Herkimer folks complain that diggers in other parts of the world are "unethical" when they call their quartz crystals "Herkimer diamonds". They call their quartz "diamonds" and then complain about misuse of the name "Herkimer"? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
Jason Evans January 29, 2012 08:29PM
Unless it looks like this

or this

and isn't from the Czech republic, Austria or Germany it is not Moldavite!
And just for interest here is some Libyan desert glass

Here is a link to a fascinating documentary about LDG, maybe the one Rob was referring to?

Its split into 5 parts, the other parts are also on that site, it's well worth watching it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/2012 08:33PM by Jason Evans.
Uwe Kolitsch January 29, 2012 08:46PM
"I think I found true african moldavite and what is it worth I got one kg "

Adriaan: what you have is simply green glass.
Eliot Masters November 03, 2012 07:03AM
there is a lot of bias in this string that quite frankly stinks of knee-jerk 'Africa = fraud' attitude to me.

I have personally collected sizeable chunks of the green crystalline stone from a river-bed - nowhere near a 'jungle' and not that extremely remote, either.

though having no axe to grind myself (other than a gripe with the anti-African stereotypes which pervade Euro-American cultures), it would clearly behoove those of you who claim the stuff is 'glass' from the 'Ancient Egyptians' or like ballyhoo to test the stuff properly yourselves before spouting and crowing that others have 'been had'.
Alfredo Petrov November 03, 2012 08:04AM
Eliot, any bias against Africa or Africans that you perceived in this thread is entirely in your own imagination. But a bias against sellers who try to pass synthetic stuff off as natural... yes, we do have that, and we aren't ashamed of it at all.
Owen Lewis (2) November 03, 2012 12:23PM
This old topic has some interesting threads in it, the more so since I have recently added a 'Moldavite' (from the Holy Roman Empire) to my small personal collection.

I remember a discussion from elsewhere, a few years' back, which concluded that some 'Tsavorite' on offer by the 'miners' was in fact green glass of modern origin. Sometimes glass is easy to discriminate - and sometimes if is not. Resolution in that matter came through the polishing of a face on a couple of pieces and checking the RI.

Many Africans - not least many of those now labelled as Kenyan - are fiercely effective traders. One literally had the shirt off my back on one occasion:-D In my small experience, business ethics generally are those of market-places around the world. Caveat Emptor. There are persons that, in time, one comes to trust on personal basis. Much like home really - except that customer protection and legal remedies at home are *sometimes* more effective.

Alfredo Petrov Wrote:
> ........ I've always been a bit amused
> when the Herkimer folks complain that diggers in
> other parts of the world are "unethical" when they
> call their quartz crystals "Herkimer diamonds".
> They call their quartz "diamonds" and then
> complain about misuse of the name "Herkimer"? Talk
> about the pot calling the kettle black!

:-) In general, it would probably be better not to associate localities with mineral varieties)IMHO) - but it's way too late to correct that tendency. What could - and I think should - be done is firmly to divorce the acceptable use of varietal names from any form of exclusive proprietorship, be it through the registering of a trade-name or simple local/regional protectionism. The sometimes used analogy to the protection of regional/locality status granted to wines is simply false for reasons that are largely self-evident and need not be not aired here.

'Herkimer Diamond' is a pretty name describing a sub-variety of naturally occurring Rock Crystal, occurring around the world. If not exactly a common-place, it is widely distributed and in some abundance. As Alfredo points out, there is (at the very least) 'poetic licence' in the arrogation of the species name 'Diamond' and this alone is sufficent to rob this particular varietal name of any honest local proprietorship.

A regional claim to 'Moldavite' is not so easy to dismiss though. Has tectite glass of this colour and physical properties ever been found elsewhere? If it has, then I'd vote for it being called Moldavite also - as descriptive of its properties and not of where it comes from. But, AFAIK, no one has found this stuff elsewhere.

The few pics put up in this topic of 'African Moldavite':-
- Do not look in the least like Moldavite.
- No evidence is offered that the pics are of a tectite glass.
- From memory only, the appearance of this 'African' material is not dissimilar to the stuff offered to others a while back as Tsavorite rough.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/03/2012 04:05PM by Owen Lewis (2).
Uwe Kolitsch November 03, 2012 01:45PM
Eliot: did you have your "green crystalline stone" analysed in any way?
Evan Johnson November 03, 2012 03:32PM
I agree- *crystalline* sends a pretty strong message that it's neither tektitic nor obsidian. Not that there aren't green minerals out there, of course.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

Mineral and/or Locality is an outreach project of the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Copyright © and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy 1993-2018, except where stated. relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters.
Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions - Contact Us Current server date and time: January 19, 2018 01:50:26
Go to top of page