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Gem in the Spotlight: Quartz

The everyday and the extraordinary in one

What is common and yet rare? What is well known, but yet a surprise? What is affordably priced sometimes and sometimes very pricey? If you answered quartz to all these questions you would be right (but naturally you looked at the title and knew). Quartz is one of the most common minerals on earth. Many of quartz’s gems are common for gemstones but, some varieties are very rare. Some are Plain Jane like rock quartz, others are exotic like Drusy Quartz. Some quartz material is a dollar per pound others are $1,000 per carat. Quartz is a gemstone with surprising variety.

Some Quartz material is a dollar per pound others are $1,000 per carat.

The most important reason for this variety is that Quartz comes in 2 main forms. First, there is the macrocrystalline flavor and then the microcrystalline flavor. Within each of these broad categories, the different colors of the gemstone are given different names. Here’s a quick list to help you get a better handle on the vast diversity of quartz.

The most dangerous part of this quartz story is the naming of names. I know as soon as this goes to press I will remember at least one more. The crystal varieties of quartz:

Crystal Name Color
Amethyst Purple
Citrine Yellow to reddish orange to brown, greenish yellow
Prasiolite Green

***I interrupt this article for another gemological issue. Misnomers—misleading names for gems—one famous one is “Alaska Diamond” for rock crystal. Many gemologists feel green amethyst is a misnomer for prasiolite. Yes, Prosiolite is the older name for Green Amethyst but what a poor name. Renaming gems has a long tradition and green amethyst is just another one along the way. Now back to the article.***

Crystal Name Color
Rock quartz Purple
Rose quartz Yellow to reddish orange to brown, greenish yellow
Smoky quartz Green
Rutilated quartz Colorless to include most any color but with needles type inclusions.
Ametrine Purple and yellow/ orange color zoning
Bi-color quartz Colorless and any other color like brown, green, etc.

The microcrystalline varieties have a long tradition of being special to people. These are the gems you can find. This will not be a complete list.

Crystal Name Color
Chalcedony Any microcrystalline quartz, although generally only used for white or lightly colored material. Otherwise more specific names are used.
Agate Multi-colored, banded chalcedony
Onyx Black, also agate with bands that are straight and parallel
Jasper Opaque chalcedony, typically red to brown
Aventurine Chalcedony with small inclusions (usually mica) that shimmer
Tiger’s eye Fibrous gold to red-brown colored quartz, exhibiting chatoyancy
Morion Dark-brown, opaque
Carnelian Reddish orange chalcedony
Gold Included Quartz White quartz with gold laced inside
Drusy quartz Very small crystals in a layer of matrix
Fire Agate Brownish red with a fire of color
Bloodstone Green jasper dotted with bright red spots
Sardonyx White and brown bands
Moss Agate Multiple shades of green laced in chalcedony
Fossilized Wood Mulit-colored
Sard Reddish-brown chalcedony

Quartz gems are important to a wide range of cultures, eras and people. Quartz gems are heralded in the Bible, Ancient Egypt, China, India and many other civilizations. History is full of people who took power and comfort from one or another variety of quartz gems. Quartz gems have been greatly priced for there beauty. Quartz, whether it is common or exotic, royal or earth tone can bring you the personal satisfaction of a gem close to the heart.

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