Czech Moldavite is a TikTok sensation – but is it really a powerful cosmic crystal?

The green stone found mainly in South Bohemia is among the rarest gems on earth, but tales of its heavenly origins and mystical powers may be exaggerated.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 11.06.2021 12:48 (updated on 11.06.2021)

For months now, a gem that is only found almost exclusively on the Czech Republic has been trending on TikTok and some other social media. Videos with the hashtag #Moldavite show young people, usually women, say that wearing the green glassy stone has had a large impact on their life, and that it is the most powerful of crystals. It is alleged to expose “truths” both good and bad to the owner.

Some claim it reveals truths about partners, and others that it reveals way too much about themselves. Still more claim that having a Moldavite helps you to become your highest self, and your life will make a 180-degree change. To date, TikTok videos under #Moldavite have racked up over 358 million views.

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The TikTok trend is the culmination of over a decade of stories spreading over the internet among various esoteric communities interested in the alleged power of crystals. During the same time, prices for the rare stone have skyrocketed due to higher demand and a very limited supply.

The prices have even led to counterfeiting. Many stones commercially available are factory-made translucent green glass.

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“Almost all of the stuff you see for sale over the internet is fake,” Moldavite enthusiast William Beauregard said.

Beauregard has been following the topic of Moldavite, Czech fossils, and other local minerals for several years, and is a member of local geology groups.

Among older Czech rock hunters the stone is called vltavín, after the Vltava river. It is only in the last few years, with new international popularity, that the name Moldavite has taken over. Moldau is the German name for the Vltava river.

The first thing to know about the stones is that they aren’t actually crystals. Unlike other gems, such as diamonds or emeralds, that have formed under pressure over millions of years in many locations, all the Moldavite that there ever was or will be was created all at once when a meteorite several kilometers wide struck 14 million to 15 million years ago somewhere in what is now Germany.

Moldavite collection. (Photo: iStock, jonnysek)
Moldavite collection. (Photo: iStock, jonnysek)

This sort of glassy stone formed by a meteorite strike is called a tektite, and there are a few other places on earth with similar but not identical stones from other other large meteor strikes. Moldavites are the only ones in the world that are green, save for a few very rare specimens found elsewhere.

The meteor that hit Germany shot molten silica – the main ingredient of glass – high up into earth’s outer stratosphere, the top layer of the atmosphere.

“The liquid silica rained back down and fell in a pattern of four distinct areas called strewn fields. Not all of them are equal,” Beauregard said.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Millions of years ago, Bohemia was a swamp, and the hot liquid glass would have had a soft landing. The swampy terrain also partly accounts for the unusual shapes the stones took when they cooled and hardened.

Over 90 percent fell in South Bohemia in what is called the České Budějovice strewn field. Most of the remaining Moldavite is in two other fields also in South Bohemia, and about 1 percent is in South Moravia. A handful of individual pieces have been found just across the border in either Germany or Austria. “You can tell where the stone came from because each field has its own totally unique set of shapes,” Beauregard told us.

The most interesting pieces come from the České Budějovice field, which includes Český Krumlov in its zone.

“If you look at pieces from Český Krumlov, they look like you were melting a candle and letting it drip. You can find drips up to six inches long. And they look incredible,” Beauregard said.

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A Moldavite
A Moldavite "hedgehog" from Besednice. (Photo: Wikimedia commons, Vesta, CC BY-SA 3.0)

There are also flat and circular pieces referred to as snowflakes, elongated pieces called ferns, large chunks called grenades, and the choicest ones are “hedgehogs” with glassy spines coming out of them. The greener and clearer the stone the better, in terms of value. Also undamaged shapes are more prized than fragments.

Each of the strewn fields has stones with a slightly different combination of silica with trace minerals, which result in different shades of color. The shapes and textures of the stones are also different among the different fields. Czech collectors are highly specialized in distinguishing which strewn fields the stones are from. The best pieces of all are said to come from near the town of Besednice.

Faceted piece of Moldavite. (Wikimedia commons, Vassil, public domain)
Faceted piece of Moldavite. (Wikimedia commons, Vassil, public domain)

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Unlike diamonds or other gems, Moldavite is seldom cut. Much of the value is in the details of the natural shape. The exceptions are Moldavites found near Chlum, which tend to be just formless blobs, and badly damaged stones like snowflake or grenade chips. These are often faceted to bring out the color, as there is no value in preserving the shape.

One reason that there is little real Moldavite on the market is that most Czech collectors trade or sell pieces among themselves, but seldom to people outside of collector groups, as that is considered poor taste. It is something akin to baseball cards. Finding one in a pack of gum or trading for a better one is considered a social activity. Building up your collection by simply buying big pieces is sort of cheating.

Moldavite, lower left, with some orange dirt on a muddy field. (Photo: iStock, Ladislav Kubeš)
Moldavite, lower left, with some orange dirt on a muddy field. (Photo: iStock, Ladislav Kubeš)

Collectors in the spring will walk along farm fields once the ground has been turned and after rain has washed the stones off. Unlike in the U.S., this generally isn’t considered trespassing. It is not unusual to find a good Moldavite after a few hour of looking, but an expert needs to show you how. “The older generation is now training the younger generation,” Beauregard said.

What is illegal is digging in public forests, and that has been an increasing problem due to the fantastic prices. Police have been trying to stop it, even resorting to using remote listening devices at night. The illegal diggers are a minority, and they are shunned by the majority of responsible hunters who respect nature. The 2016 Czech film Green Horse Rustlers (Zloději zelených koní) depicts the situation in the 1990s.

According to Beauregard, local demand for Moldavite has stayed the same. The increase is mostly from the States. It started in Sedona, Arizona, which has been a center of New Age philosophy for decades. People who believe in the mystical energy of crystals latched onto the idea that particularly rare stones are also the most powerful, and Moldavite is far rarer than almost any other stone.

There is also the notion that Moldavites have their origin in outer space. The story of them coming down as a green molten-glass rain got somewhat convoluted when it crossed the Atlantic. Many people in the New Age community in America believe the Moldavites themselves are fragments of a massive glass meteor from the depths of the galaxy, and that it has an “energy structure” that can’t be found on earth.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

In short, it is something like a positive version of Kryptonite from the Superman stories. In most versions of Superman, including the 1978 film, Kryptonite is depicted as a green irregular stone that crashed into earth from space. It looks almost exactly like a good example of a Moldavite hedgehog or grenade. Except Moldavite is alleged to give people energy while Kryptonite takes it away.

“Anything that can be related to aliens or outer space becomes that much more spiritual, that much more powerful,” Beauregard said.

“These people believe it helps you to meditate and commune with the universe, and by universe I think they mean extraterrestrials,” he said.

The increased demand from spiritual UFO buffs in Arizona spread to other New Age followers once social media platforms like Facebook opened up over a decade ago.

“Fast forward to five or six years ago, and we have E-Bay. That is where Americans went to buy Moldavite,” he said. The demand caused the already high price to skyrocket. But the demand has led to widespread counterfeiting, as there is no Moldavite found outside the Czech Republic, and the number of Czech people willing to sell their collections is quite small.  

Moldavite found on a field in South Bohemia. (Photo: iStock, Ladislav Kubeš)
Moldavite found on a field in South Bohemia. (Photo: iStock, Ladislav Kubeš)

“The unique thing about Moldavite is it contains air bubbles that are in elongated strange shapes. They look very different than if you were melting silica in a glass factory, where the bubbles would be round,” Beauregard said. Inspection of the often microscopic bubbles is how tell if Moldavite is real.

Counterfeiters, though, are now experimenting with different ways to add long air bubbles to the green glass they make. So far they have not perfected the process.

The last step in the Moldavite story is that the tales of the allegedly powerful stone from outer space have jumped from Facebook, which tends to be used by older people, to one of the newer social media platforms, TikTok, and found a new audience of teens and people in their early 20s who describe themselves as witches. The main market has also shifted to Amazon.

But if they are getting their gems from unscrupulous fakers on E-Bay and Amazon, the life-changing effects they have been reporting in their sometimes histrionic videos have been generated by simple shards of cloudy green glass made in a factory in China.

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