Friday, 21 May 2010
In the shops of South Bohemia you can buy jewellery made from the local gem moldavite. This bottle-green substance is to be found in a limited number of sites in the Czech Republic. It appears that moldavite was created when a meteor hit the earth - probably forming the Nordlinger Reis Crater. The resulting explosion led to a process of fusion which created the moldavite.
Moldavite mining has been a cottage industry in South Bohemia for decades, with local people going to collecting sites and searching the fields after heavy rain. Others dig shallow mines in the forest. Some, including one I know, have been so successful that they made a living from it. But it can be dangerous, the ground is sandy and pits have on occasion collapsed on the diggers.
The Czech Government is increasingly controlling the digging for moldavite. Now the pits can only be a metre deep and old pits are being monitored. For safety reasons this makes sense, but the Government also has a vested interest in protecting this rare (rarer than diamonds) and finite resource.
Moldavite comes in two grades - ordinary and museum. The latter is very expensive and very beautiful. But the fascination of moldavite isn't just about their value. With a typically Czech twist moldavite is highly prized in new age circles - considered to be the Grail stone, with healing powers. Just Google "moldavite" and you will find dozens of new age sites selling you it and its fantastic powers.