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Quartz Varieties: An Overview of the Many Colors & Types
Quartz is one of the most common minerals found on Earth. As a major component of granite, quartz can be found just about everywhere in a variety of colors and varieties.
Valued for its beauty and durability, quartz has been used for jewelry and decoration for centuries. This article will provide an introduction to quartz along with some of its many types.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a mineral composed of silicon and oxygen atoms. With a rating of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, it is considerably hard and durable.
Quartz can form massive formations or long prismatic crystals. Most quartz is transparent to translucent. Its most recognizable form is the six-sided crystal point.
There are many varieties of quartz, which occur in nearly every color. Some of the most popular types of quartz gems include:
Amethyst is a popular purple gemstone. It ranges from light lavender to deep violet. Amethyst gets its color from trace amounts of iron. It is the traditional birthstone for February.
Aventurine is known for its sparkly green color caused by included flakes of mica or other minerals. It is popular for jewelry and ornamental objects. The name comes from the Italian "a ventura" meaning "by chance."
Black quartz gets its dark color from inclusions of minerals like hematite, magnetite, and graphite. It has a glossy black appearance. Black quartz goes by other names like morion and smoky quartz.
Bloodstone is green quartz flecked with red spots that resemble blood. Hence its name. The red spots are caused by inclusions of hematite. Bloodstone has long been used for jewelry, carvings, and ornamental objects.
Chalcedony is a broad term encompassing many types of cryptocrystalline quartz like agate, onyx, jasper, and carnelian. It has a waxy luster and is translucent to opaque.
Citrine ranges from pale yellow to brownish orange. Its color comes from iron impurities. Natural citrine is rare, so most commercial citrine is heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz. Citrine is one of the most popular quartz gemstones.
Clear quartz is transparent and colorless. When cut, it has exceptional brilliance and clarity. It is often used for crystal balls, prisms, and optical instruments. Clear quartz is also popular in jewelry for its diamond-like appearance.
Lemon quartz is a bright yellow form of quartz. Its lively color comes from inclusions of iron oxide. Lemon quartz is sometimes treated to deepen its color. With its sunny hue, it's a cheerful gemstone that promotes optimism.
Petrified wood forms when plant material gets buried and replaced by quartz. The quartz perfectly preserves the original wood structure, creating a fossilized stone that displays beautiful woody patterns. Jewelry makers slice and polish petrified wood to create one-of-a-kind designs.
Phantom quartz exhibits ghostly veils and crystalline inclusions within its interior. These phantoms form when additional quartz crystals are deposited on an existing quartz crystal. The effect is hauntingly beautiful. Phantom quartz is greatly valued by collectors.
Prasiolite is a green variety of quartz. Its rich verdant color is caused by natural irradiation. Most commercial Prasiolite is heat-treated amethyst. Prasiolite is a rare collector's gem. Its name comes from the Greek meaning "leek green stone."
While most natural quartz is colorless, some display a rich red or pinkish-red hue. The source of red quartz's rosy glow remains a scientific mystery. Its vibrant crimson shades are undeniably beautiful. Red quartz adorns jewelry with classic romantic charm.
Rose quartz ranges from very pale pink to rose red. Its pink tones come from trace amounts of titanium, iron, and manganese. With a soft, delicate beauty, rose quartz is associated with love and tranquility. It's been a popular gem since ancient Egyptian times.
Rutile quartz is a transparent rock crystal embroidered with fine golden needles of rutile. The rutile inclusions form intricate patterns when the quartz is cut. The result is a light-catching stone with lacy designs. It's treasured for its unique beauty.
Smoky quartz is characterized by its smoky brown-to-black color. Natural smoky quartz gets its color from radiation exposure. Irradiated quartz turns a smoky color, so most commercial smoky quartz is produced this way. It's popular for jewelry of an earthy, sophisticated style.
Tiger's Eye displays chatoyancy or a luminescent band of light. Fibrous asbestos replaces the original quartz to form Tiger's Eye. When cut, the fibrous structure reflects light in a way resembling a cat's eye. Tiger's Eye jewelry has an exotic, beckoning glimmer.
Tourmalinated quartz contains long slender crystals of schorl tourmaline within quartz. When cut, tourmaline crystals form thin parallel lines creating a striped appearance. The tourmaline inclusions make the quartz more durable for jewelry purposes.
White quartz comes in both transparent and opaque (milky) varieties. It forms in massive deposits that yield large white quartz geodes. White quartz has a cooling, pure appearance that feels cleansing. It's commonly carved into ornamental objects.
Yellow quartz spans bright lemony shades to deep honey hues. Its yellow comes from hydrous defects or iron impurities. Yellow quartz boosts optimism and mental clarity. It pairs particularly well with silver in jewelry designs.
More on Quartz Gemstones
Quartz is an incredibly diverse and widely used mineral. In its many colored varieties, it has been crafted into jewelry, carvings, and other decorative objects for thousands of years across human cultures. Quartz remains one of the most popular gemstones today.
Find out more below:
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