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Identify some stones from China

I am trying to identify some stones that were brought to me from
China. The size ranges from the size of a chicken egg down to the size
of a large song bird egg. My understanding is that they occur in
nature in this egg shape. These are my pictures showing the eggs both
wet and dry. When wet they are semi-transparent. I chose to photograph
one with some inclusions to show the transparency.

The first and the last pictures are of the same eggs. In the first
picture the egg standing on its end is wet. In the third picture the
egg is dry.

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I would be
glad to send you some if you let me know a mailing address.

Thanks again,

Adalyn Watts

Adalyn…I doubt if your egg shaped stones occur “naturally.” Its
hard to judge the size but they look like quartz and may well be
"gastronomes" which are stones swollowed by animals as an aid to
digestion. There is a gentleman in Maryland, US who has found a
particular type of jasper (I think it was) in a stream bed that are
believed to have been gastronomes used by dinosaurs of one kind or
another. Often animals will pick up bright colored or quartz stones
because they catch their eye in the sunlight.

Thats about all I can say from the one picture that would parse for
me. This is just a guess though. There are many strange (and old)
things that come from China.

Don at The Charles Belle Studio where simple elegance IS fine

Hello Adalyn,

Very interesting. Do you know where in China they came from? If so
I can find out more about them for you from my geology contacts.

Colleen Lynch

Adalyn - Only your first URL was active; the second and third didn’t
yield images. Based on what I see at the first image I believe these
to be glass. For the past year several traveling dealers (in the
Northeast) in metaphysical stones have been selling stones resembling
yours as “opal”. In person the stones have very obviously been
ground, and taken to a finely sanded/semi-polished state. Some folks
have paid up to $50 per piece believing they had gotten a great buy
on precious opal. I’ve had several of my customers get caught this
way; I now have two small pieces of opalescent glass (which I believe
these eggs to be) on my bench so that I can show folks a direct
comparison. As I say, it’s difficult to tell for certain from one
pic, but I believe that these are totally manmade glass.

Jim Small
Small Wonders

G’day: I saw the image above, and have only two suggestions: 1)
that they are gizzard stones; that is rounded pebbles that many birds
pick up to assist digestion, having no teeth. The rounding thus
continues in the bird’s gizzard as several stones rub together. I
don’t much know about the fauna and birdlife of China, but have to
admit they are pretty big stones, and therefore pretty big birds. 2)
that they are shaped by humans and then discarded for some reason or

Although I tried at a few different times, My computer told me that
the sites below were unobtainable as the server couldn’t be contacted
or some such computer nonsense. (with which we must all be familiar)
Mine’s just begun emitting funny squealing noises, but stops after a
good bang on it’s back side. Getting almost human, aren’t they?
'Speak roughly to your little boy and beat him when he sneezes…'
or is it a case of ‘Off with his head?’ The whole thing’s a bit of a
Wonderland. I have a bottle of rum here that begs; “Drink Me!” I
might just succumb.

Hic. Cheers,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Adalyn, If you send a sample of your unknown stone to me , I would be
happy to give you an identification. At first glance, your object
appears to be a frosted quartz pebble. These have been found at
various localities, especially Brazil.The bubble within the stone you
have on line is a little suspicious, could be glass. Send sample to,
Will Estavillo,3640 E. Hardy, Tucson, AZ 85716. Include a return
address, and I’ll send it back to you. Regards,
Will E.

Adalyn - I have purchased some glass ‘eggs’ from a Chinese importer
that resemble your first picture very closely. I didn’t have a choice
of sizes, but that could be because my importer chose only to bring in
one size. I believe we’ll be making a trip to this importer this week
and I’ll try to check out the ‘eggs’ I have access to. As I recall,
when dry, these ‘eggs’ were very opal-ly looking with quite a blue
cast. They were very certainly glass.


Jan MacLellan
Mountain Gems Ltd.

If those “stones” are glass they would have rounded air bubbles in
them like the demo stone had. Also if one were accidently broken apart
it would have a conchoidal fracture. (Conchoidal fractures look like
little seashells…they type fracture seen on the edges of obsidion
arrowheads.) Thin slivers of the stone would be easily meltable in a
propane/air or propane/oxygen torch, but rapid heating of larger
peices would produce spectacular explosions with shards of glass
flying all over the place. (Kids, don’t try this at home!)

I am reasonably certain your stones are stream-tumbled quartz
crystals. There is a variety of fine optical quartz from Brazil that
has similar characteristics and is named “eggshell quartz.” These
crystals were eroded from their original deposits underground and over
great amounts of time were washed down rivers and abraded by contacts
with other rocks into their present shapes. Many of the Brazilian
pieces exhibit astonishing clarity when a “window” is polished on
their frosted surfaces.

I have seen stream-tumbled white topaz crystals of similar
appearance, too, and it’s possible your stones are not quartz. Topaz
generally – but not always! – is smaller than your samples.

China had lots of dinosaurs and it’s always possible the quartzes are
gastroliths – dinosaur “gizzard stones.” But I personally find it
unlikely that dinos would seek out just quartz crystals for that
purpose. The gastroliths I’ve seen from dinosaur sites in Utah and
Colorado usually are a melange of various types of rocks.

Rick Martin

I missed the original post on this topic, but noticed that Jim Small
identifies them as the opalescent glass eggs that have been making
the rounds over the past couple years. I saw one dealer in Tucson who
had been badly taken by her “good friend” for hundreds of them.

If you deal in minerals, keep an eye out for another fake being sold
by some of the same people…cave pearls. I’m not especially
knowledgeable about the real cave pearls. I believe they are a
calcium concretion. The fakes are unglazed porcelain balls in 1 inch
and 1 1/2 inch diameters. They have a dimple in one end, slightly
raised ring around the center, and are surprisingly heavy for their
size. They’ve been dipped in laundry soap so that they are
fluorescent like the real thing.

Karen in Boulder, CO
starting her Spectrum piece next week :slight_smile:

The stones or eggs which you were given from China are available all
over South East Asia. I personally have a large glass bowl of water
which has 10 of them in it. I have bought in Singapore, Cambodia
and here in Vietnam. Every store has said they are called moon rocks
and come from some quarry site in China. I have never seen them in
any shape other than egg shape but the surface is always sand blasted
and thus have the sell point of becoming 'alive’and luminescent under
water. The quality of finishing does vary from lovely shaped and
well formed eggs to rougher and with defective marks inside the eggs.
The best were sold in a antique shop in Singapore. Also the most
expensive I might add. They are usually about $1. US if not at that
store, which was $5. each. There must be some reason they have never
cut and sold slices or smaller shapes but I am not sure what it is.
They are especially beautiful if the bowl of water is sitting under a
light at night.

Sharron in hot and humid Saigon with storm clouds gathering over the

Adalyn, I have an oblong piece of glass that looks very similar to
your rocks that I picked up at a local glass recycler (in Seattle). I
don’t know if your rocks might also be glass or if they just happen to
look very similar. Good luck identifying them.

Jan, do you have an address for the glass importer? I’d like to get a
few to look at and to see if I could pull them to make beads if they
are as pretty as the photo. I’m fascinated by the idea of
semitransparant opalino glass (I suspect the surface is acid etched
or sandblasted and not original surface) and would wonder how hard it
would be to track down the maker. I make beads from Effetre brand
Moretti (Italian) glass and opalino is difficult to work with but is
beautiful in its effect. Geo.

You should consider the possibility that they are waterworn
Topaz.China has huge alluvial deposit of White Topaz. Mark Liccini

I thought those egged shaped glass objects looked familair but the
"expensive looking" photo posing and its discussion under "jewelry"
took me off the connection.

I kept tropical fish when I was a kid and had bought these glass
"eggs" from the pet shop to put in the aquarium so that the small
fries from live bearer fish had a place to hide. They looked more
attractive than pebbles and I could see the fries.

They cost less than a dollar for a pound bag but that was quite a few
decades ago. The “eggs” came in an assortment of colors including a
deep green and very dark brown, all of them suspiciously like the
color of various glass beer bottles. Again this was before the time
of canned beverages, even before beer was first sold in tin plate
cans. In many remote localities they still use glass beverage
bottles and it is just not worth shipping back empties for reuse. But
you don’t see mountians of empties either in the village dump so that
unwanted glass is probably made into these “eggs”. Another recycled
glass bottle product that caught my attention is blown glass fishing
net floats so loved by antique shops. Kelvin Mok