Malachite vs Moldavite: Finding Out Their Differences

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Wondering about the difference between malachite and moldavite? 

You're in the right place. 

In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the following questions about both of these green gemstones:

malachite vs moldavite - page
  • Why is Moldavite Popular Right Now?
  • Why is Malachite Green and Blue? 
  • Is Real Moldavite Expensive?

Main Differences Between Moldavite and Malachite

  • Malachite is a rock, whereas moldavite is glass.
  • Moldavite is a harder mineral, whereas malachite is a softer stone.
  • Natural malachite is common, where as natural moldavite is rare.
  • Malachite is opaque, whereas moldavite transparent to translucent.

Malachite vs Moldavite: Origin

Malachite

Malachite is a green gemstone copper mineral found in large copper deposits. It was one of the first minerals used to produce copper, but isn't so much anymore. It grows in multiple forms and is also found in limestone.

You will also see in growing alongside azurite and cuprite minerals as well. Azurite is the blue mineral often found mixed with malachite. Gem collectors can expect to see real malachite azurite gemstone specimens.

azurite malachite stone

credited: James St. John

Malachite has been associated with money and wealth. It was also known as the gemstone for merchants, offering protection for those in the trade business.

In the middle ages, malachite was used to promote good health and ward off evil. It was advised for children to wear pendants because they believed it would keep them safe from evil and sleep well.

Ancient Egyptians mined malachite. They used it both as jewelry and cosmetic pigments. They'd grind up malachite to use cosmetically. It was carved and used in the construction of buildings.

malachite art piece

credited: judy dean 

However, due to the amount of copper content in malachite, it's toxic to grind.

Malachite isn't a faceted stone, so you can expect to see it in carvings or use in crystal healing. It has been used in a variety cultures since ancient times. Evidence of mining dates back to almost 4000 years ago.

There were large deposits found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, but was depleted in the mid 1800s. You can also find malachite in Australia, Mexico, Namibia, and Zambia.

Most malachite is mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo. My personal malachite (shown below) specimen is from Congo too.

malachite specimen

Moldavite

Moldavite isn't technically a stone. It's a variety of tektite, which is natural glass. Natural moldavite is the product of meteor impacts hitting the earth. Tektites are the debris that form when the meteor impacts the earth.

Moldavite glass can be faceted as a center stone, but is often used as collectors specimens. More recently, the interest in moldavite is associated with crystal healing. Natural moldavite is difficult to find, but there are many fake moldavite pieces all over places like Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, and Ebay.

natural moldavite

credited: Tjflex2

Natural moldavite is rare because it's the result of a singular impact across Europe. The same meteor is said to have created the Ries and Stenheim craters in Germany. The asteroid is believe to have been broken in half.

When each of the halves blew apart, the impact was so hot and smacked into the earth's rock. It was so hot, the rock splattered from the force, creating moldavite.

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Real moldavite can be found strewn across the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.

Malachite vs Moldavite: Appearance

Malachite

Malachite is characterized for its dark green color. Unlike other green gemstones, it isn't a solid green. Instead, malachite is a banded stone of black, dark green, and a sea green color. The rich green color of the bands is what makes them such desirable stones when carved or polished.

Moldavite jewelry is cut en cabochon, usually worn as center stones or beads . They are very popular in crystal healing, so you'll see them as large cabochons and palm stones.

malachite cabochons

credited: Mauro Cateb

The colors of malachite gemstones are so rich and vivid, there's no need for treatments or color enhancements. The stone is also sensitive to heat, so it shouldn't be worn for long periods under light or heat.

Synthetics and Imitations

Malachites are common and inexpensive minerals generally, so there's not a real need to synthesize them. They have been synthesized for research, but it's safe to assume most malachite is natural malachite.

Its unique green bands make it a hard stone to imitate. Despite that, there is fake malachite out there. The biggest visual difference between real malachite and fake malachite is the contrast between the bands.

fake malachite

The black and green bands will have a very dark and definitive alterations in the pattern. The patterns may have strange shapes or spacing as well. Many fake malachite pieces come from China. That's not to say that all dealers shipping malachite crystals from China have fakes either, mind you.

Moldavite

Moldavite and malachite may sound like similar gemstones, but these green minerals have distinctly difference appearances. Malachite is a rock, so you'll see in stone form. Moldavite can look like sprays of glass or be faceted.

The color of moldavite is not characterized as rich or vivid either. Moldavite is an olive green to dark green color. It can be light green too, but its not desirable. It has a rough and bumpy texture in its rough form.

shades of moldavite

credited: Petr Hykš

Synthetics & Imitations

Moldavite is one of the most popular crystals to imitate. There's no lab-created versions glass, but many fake moldavite on the market. The increase of fake moldavite crystals is because of the heightened interest.

Moldavite is highly sought because TikTok videos were released claiming of its crystal healing properties and healing experiences detailed during their short videos. It was a trend that produced fakes and drove up the price for natural moldavite.

fake moldavite

The imitation moldavite in the market can be incredibly difficult to distinguish from real moldavite. Other green glass is commonly faceted or rough to imitate it. Both natural moldavite and fake moldavite may have surface bubbles.

Malachite vs Moldavite: Price

Overall, both malachite and moldavite are pretty affordable.

Malachite stones have been carved since ancient times and continue to do so in the presence. The cost of these pieces are directly related to the size and complexity of the carving.

malachite elephant figure

credited: kevinzim

Ones that are cut to highlight specific patterns also go for higher prices. Polished cabochons go for around $5 per carat.

Glass is not a valuable material. Natural glass can be found all over the world and many people like to collect it. Glass is often faceted, which makes it an excellent imitation for colored gemstones.

faceted moldavite

credited: John Brandauer

Natural moldavite that's been faceted can for for around $60 per carat. Bigger specimens go for more. Since the increase in popularity for healing, you'll find natural moldavite has been marketed for it has higher prices due to its rarity.

Malachite vs Moldavite: Value

Aside from monetary cost upfront, you'll always want to know the value of the gemstone as part of your collection. Many people turned to more unique colored gemstones as the center stone for engagement rings.

The Mohs hardness scale is one way we analyze how a stone impacted for everyday wear. Most of us plan to wear our wedding rings every day for years and years. Some people wear other pieces of jewelry for the same amount of time and frequency.

Mohscale

Image by the National Park Service. Public Domain.

The Mohs scale lets us know how resistant a mineral is to scratch from daily dirt. It has a 0-10 scale for all minerals, with diamonds being the hardest at a 10.

Malachite's hardness is between 3.5-4.5. It's considered a soft stone. It's not uncommon for malachite pieces to have a layer of resin or wax to protect its surface. If dropped, you can expect a malachite piece to have scratching damage.

The hardness rating of moldavite has a hardness between 5-7. Most glass has the same hardness level. Because glass get get scratched by dirt, it too can get damaged fairly easily. Faceted pieces worn in pendants or rings every day will get damaged more.

Glass also shatters when dropped, depending on its thickness. Moldavite is considered to have poor wearability as regular jewelry. That doesn't mean you can't wear it out on occasion or keep it close for healing purposes.

Malachite stones have good wearbility, but have perfect cleavage in one direction. However, these are more used for ornamental, architectural, and decorative purposes. They still shouldn't be worn as engagement rings.

Conclusion

Malachite and moldavite are fascinating green minerals.

Moldavite draws people in by means of TikTok trends and its extraterrestrial associations to meteors. Finding natural moldavite can prove to be difficult because of how many fakes there are on the market.

If you happen to come across real moldavite, it's a great collector's piece.

Malachite pieces are also excellent collectors pieces with their beautiful green bands. They are most sought in smooth and polished forms as animals and palm stones.

Neither of these minerals have the ability to withstand years of frequent wear, but can be worn occasionally and with care.

Though these gems are green, they a distinctly different in appearance from one another. You should have no problem identifying one from the other.


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