Types of Stone

There are a wide variety of stones used in Zimbabwean sculpture.

Most are locally sourced and belong to the geological family Serpentinite. The stones sedimentary, having originally been laid down on a sandy seafloor, and classed also as metamorphic, since subsequent exposure to intense heat and pressure over hundreds of millions of years has transformed them into hard stone. Serpentines are rich in iron, so when the stone weathers/exposed to the element it can take on a rust colour.

Types of Stone

“Zimbabwe literally means “house of stone,”

 Stones used in Zimbabwean sculpture are locally sourced, and the country boasts an astonishing diversity of hard rocks that are used for carving, with colloquial names that convey the intrinsic beauty of the medium: green and lemon opal, fruit serpentine, multi-coloured cobalt, semi-precious stones such as purple lepidolite, verdite and dolomite and the lustrous black iron serpentine called springstone. These dense stones have extremely fine grains and uniform structure, making them ideal for expanding sculptural innovation and showcasing the technical skill of the artists.


Avocado serpentine is a hard variety of serpentine stone, named after its striking green and yellow colouration. All colour and texture within the stone is entirely natural. Unsurprisingly, this hard variety of serpentine stone has been named ‘avocado’ after it’s striking green and yellow colouration.


Is a creamy yellow colour with dark striations throughout and is sometimes also known as Butter stone. Locally called ‘Jade’, it is not however a true Jade. The striations found in the attractive yellow-green sedimentary rock are actually layers containing fossilized algae.

Cobalt Stone

A beautiful stone often purple in colouration with a variation of yellow and white markings and strips throughout. Often found containing brown/orange markings. Cobalt is the local name used by Zimbabwean sculptors. There is no actual cobalt in the stone which is mined mainly in Guruve.


This elegantly simple stone resembles fine marble. Its faceted crystalline appearance lends the stone a unique sense of depth. It is generally pink or pinkish-white in colour but may also be white, grey or even brown or black depending on whether iron and manganese are present minerals in the crystal. Dolomite lustre is pearly to vitreous to dull. The crystals are translucent to transparent.

Domboshawa / White Opal

Domboshawa /Opal stone is the local Zimbabwean name for a porous and relatively soft variety of Serpentine Stone (in comparison for eg. Springstone. For this reason, it is recommended to bring the Sculpture inside in the winter months. The stone can have attractive reddish-pink tones running through.

Fruit Serpentine

A colourful attractive stone, with deep veins of variated strata. Due to its beauty, durability and hardness and its fine finish it is one of the most sought after mediums for sculpting. Fruit serpentine is a harder variety of serpentine, beautifully multi-coloured with deep veins of variated strata. Fruit serpentine comes from the Kwekwe area, a few hours southwest of Harare.

Hyena Stone

A type of Serpentine which depicts the colours of a Hyenas Coat. A relatively new stone.


Is a mineral of the mica group, has been used as a source of lithium. This stone is a by-product of the mining of lithium, because of the nature of the stone it is difficult to carve. The pink to violet shades of the stone are very attractive.

Leopard Rock

beautifully coloured stone with ‘spot’ marks similar to a leopard. It is similar to serpentine; having a creamy yellow colour with black blotches. The only known deposits of Leopard Rock are in Zimbabwe. It is a very difficult stone to carve and only skilled sculptors will attempt this rock. Power tools are used due to the hardness and to get the definition. Leopard Rock when polished has a beautiful glazed finish.

Opal Serpentine

Again not a true ‘Opal’. A beautiful light greenish serpentine. Opal stone is a very hard stone finely textured with an almost translucent surface sometimes specked with red, orange and bluish dots and patches. Opal stone has many variations from milky light coloured greens to darker almost black, but all with a smooth texture. It is also mined at Chiweshe, two hours north of Harare. This stone is one of the favourites of sculptors, as it’s not as hard as springstone and other serpentines, but still polishes to a high finish. Opal stone also, at times, has brown throughout the green.

Red Jasper

Is a semi-precious gemstone that is becoming much more popular among Zimbabwean sculptors. It is very hard so artists have to use electric tools for sculpting it as this can’t be done by hand. It is difficult and expensive to work on, but the end result is worthwhile. All colour and texture within the stone is entirely natural.


Found in many deposits throughout Zimbabwe its colours vary from black to brown to green, orange and variegated. Hardness level varies from very soft to vary hard.


A very hard serpentine with high iron content and a fine texture with no cleavages. Has a rich outer “blanket” of reddish brown oxidized rock. A beautiful dark stone, it polishes to a high shine because of its density. There are a number of mines where this stone is found, but Guruve, in the north, is where the majority of springstone is mined. For the purpose of sculpting, this stone is mined by hand on communal lands.


Usually found in green with inclusions of blues, gold, red and browns. The only known deposits are found in areas where gold was first discovered in Africa many centuries ago. It is related to the Serpentinite and occurs in various lens-shaped pods dotted over a 25-kilometre range. The material has no cleavage and is riddled with intrusions of corundum (ruby) crystals (hence the name Ruby Verdite), quarts, calcite and mica. Chromium is the mineral, which gives Verdite its distinctive rich green colour – Ruby Verdite can be extremely hard.