crystals

How do you tell if your moldavite is fake?

So, crystals.

They’re a multibillion dollar industry that spans the entire globe. It’s to the point where creating fake crystals (not even necessarily lab-grown ones, sometimes just straight-up fake ones) is a lucrative venture. This is especially true for precious stones and high-dollar mineral specimens. You know, like moldavite.

Moldavite is an attractive stone for collectors for many reasons. For one, they’re found on the surface — no invasive, ecologically-damaging mining operations here. They’re also said to have a very high vibration. Their energy is said to be so high, in fact, that many users think their gems might be bad luck. On top of all that, they look awesome.

Without rehashing my last post about moldavite, I’ll just give a brief synopsis: These crystals are a type of glass formed when a meteorite struck Europe millions upon millions of years ago. The impact and heat liquidized the silica in the area, which was splashed into the air and formed interesting droplets as it cooled and fell to the ground again. Moldavite is varying shades of green, typically has interesting ripples or fernlike patterns on the surface, and shares a lot of properties with glass.

Photo by Moldavite AssociationCC BY-SA 4.0. No changes were made.

While this is a really cool origin story, that last bit is the kicker. Moldavite is mostly glass. That means that it’s very easy to fake using different glass.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #1: The origin.

It’s always best to buy stones direct from the country of origin. If you can get them mine- or harvester-direct, so much the better. That lets you save money by cutting out the middlemen, and means that you can get a better idea of where your stones came from and how they were collected (which is very important).

Moldavite is only naturally found in areas affected by the meteorite that made it (Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia). If you’re purchasing it from anywhere outside of these areas, it’s likely either going to be more expensive, or faked.

At the moment, a lot of the fake (and lab-created) crystals on the market come from China, India, Hong Kong, and Thailand. This is chiefly to do with how the world’s economies are structured right now. Some areas profit greatly off of having a manufacturing-based economy, have built an immense manufacturing base, and economically incentivize the production of goods. When a country is doing well for itself by manufacturing stuff, it stands to reason that the majority of manufactured stuff is probably going to come from there — crystals included.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #2: The price.

Real moldavite is expensive. There’s a finite amount of it. It also has to be collected by hand, and the pieces are fairly small. The limited supply and high demand means that even a comparatively tiny specimen can top $100 USD, easily.

This stone comes in different grades, the highest of which is very translucent and has a characteristic fernlike pattern on the outside, and the lowest of which is more opaque and pitted. One way to spot a fake moldavite is to check the price tag and the photo. If it’s a museum-quality piece for a suspiciously low price, it’s highly likely that it’s just molded or pressed glass.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #3: The shape.

Part of moldavite’s appeal is the external pattern. This unique texture is a direct consequence of the molten silica splashing into the air immediately after the meteorite’s impact, and cooling on the way down. It caused intriguing ripples that separate it from any other crystal out there.

In other words, take a very close look at stones that have been faceted or tumbled.

This isn’t to say that any moldavite that’s been polished is automatically fake, but altering the stone’s external texture removes one of its distinguishing features. This can make it more difficult to tell a genuine moldavite from a piece of dyed glass.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #4: The size.

Moldavite isn’t a big stone. The world’s largest is roughly 265 grams (or roughly half a pound). That’s equivalent in weight to about half a can of soup. By contrast, the world’s largest amethyst is 13,000 kg (or about 28,660 lb). That’s a little over seven cars.

If someone is selling a large moldavite specimen, take a look at the price, color, and other characteristics. If it’s opaque, smooth, and inexpensive, it’s probably not a fake crystal — but it definitely isn’t moldavite. Some sellers may try to pass aventurine or other cheaper green stones off as more expensive ones.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #5: The texture.

I’ve already gushed about moldavite’s pitted, swirly, fernlike texture before, but I want to bring it up again. Moldavite isn’t naturally shiny. It was buffeted by air currents and superheated gases as it cooled, and often splashed onto the ground before fully hardening. This means that the texture is naturally going to be kind of messed up, not smooth and shiny.

When moldavite was first gaining popularity on the crystal market, one of the ways to spot a fake was to look for a shiny appearance. Manufacturers weren’t yet able to mimic the matte surface and variety of textures that natural moldavite exhibits, so savvy buyers could pick out which stones came from the ground, and which ones came out of a mold. This is not always the case anymore — better manufacturing methods have allowed factories to turn out simulated moldavite that very closely mimics the texture of the natural stuff. Still, it’s a characteristic that’s worth noting, just in case.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #6: The interior.

Nature is good at a lot of things. Creating perfectly transparent objects is not necessarily one of them.

During the chaos of a meteorite impact, a lot of things happen. Gases heat and expand. Things melt and cool at different temperatures. The liquefied silica comes in contact with other materials, trapping them within its core. All of this leads to the tiny imperfections, bubbles, and inclusions that make crystals unique.

If a piece of moldavite is exceptionally transparent, and doesn’t show any inclusions of lechatelierite or gas bubbles, it’s likely fake.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #7: The adjectives.

Moldavite is just moldavite. It’s green, kind of swirly or pitted outside, and sort of blobby shaped. As with other crystals, beware of adjectives. Some sellers will attach them to their stones to make them sound extra rare and special. (Every crystal is unique and special anyhow, but I digress.) Meanwhile, confused buyers are overpaying for what they think is “ultra-rare” pink or white moldavite, and what they receive isn’t moldavite at all.

Moldavite also only comes from the areas affected by the meteorite that formed it. If it’s labeled as originating in another country, it might still be a tektite, but it isn’t moldavite.

Spotting Fake Moldavite #8: The feel.

This is going to vary from individual to individual, which is why it’s at the end of the list. If you’re highly sensitive to crystal energy, you may be able to tell genuine moldavite from the fake stuff by handling it. As I mentioned earlier, part of this stone’s desirability lies in its high energy. If you’re normally sensitive to crystals, and a moldavite feels like nothing to you, it may be faked. (Of course, even if it isn’t fake, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a crystal that doesn’t resonate with you anyhow!)

Moldavite is a very cool stone with a distinctive appearance. Some of the simulated moldavite on the market is very accurate, making it hard to tell real from fake. These tips can help you spot manufactured moldavite, so you can experience the effects of working with a genuine stone and don’t end up overpaying for a fake.