Raman spectroscopy has been used to study vanadates in the solid state. The molecular structure of the vanadate minerals vésigniéite [BaCu3(VO4)2(OH)2] and volborthite [Cu3V2O7(OH)2·2H2O] have been studied by Raman spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy. The spectra are related to the structure of the two minerals. The Raman spectrum of vésigniéite is characterized by two intense bands at 821 and 856 cm−1 assigned to ν1 (VO4)3− symmetric stretching modes. A series of infrared bands at 755, 787 and 899 cm−1 are assigned to the ν3 (VO4)3− antisymmetric stretching vibrational mode. Raman bands at 307 and 332 cm−1 and at 466 and 511 cm−1 are assigned to the ν2 and ν4 (VO4)3− bending modes. The Raman spectrum of volborthite is characterized by the strong band at 888 cm−1, assigned to the ν1 (VO3) symmetric stretching vibrations. Raman bands at 858 and 749 cm−1 are assigned to the ν3 (VO3) antisymmetric stretching vibrations; those at 814 cm−1 to the ν3 (VOV) antisymmetric vibrations; that at 508 cm−1 to the ν1 (VOV) symmetric stretching vibration and those at 442 and 476 cm−1 and 347 and 308 cm−1 to the ν4 (VO3) and ν2 (VO3) bending vibrations, respectively. The spectra of vésigniéite and volborthite are similar, especially in the region of skeletal vibrations, even though their crystal structures differ. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.