Quartz is one of the most sought-after crystals among collectors. In addition to it’s shimmering clarity, quartz specimens vary widely and many people find them very attractive. And the good thing is that they can be found pretty much anywhere.
If you’re anything like me, you find all these different types of quartz to be very fascinating. In this article, I’m going to show you the different varieties of quartz to look for as well as provide some pictures of each so you get a clear idea of what they look like.
Different Types of Quartz
There are two ways to categorize quartz crystals, by color and by substructures.
Since quartz is clear, there’s a wide variety of different inclusions that can change it’s color. Some of the commonly collected quartz varieties are:
Rose Quartz is a pink colored quartz that often occurs in massive formations. Rose quartz can be found in large pieces and is commonly used to make decorative items. Rose quartz is often quite milky or opaque, especially in comparison to clear quartz crystals.
The pink color of rose quartz makes this type of quartz crystal a particularly popular gemstone. Rose quartz is one of the most common varieties of crystalline quartz, with massive occurrences found on every continent around the world.
Its standard colors are gentle pastel pinks that range from almost white to an intense vivid mauve, but many specimens have an antique or raspberry tone due to vanadium impurities typically present within the crystal structure itself. Its because of these colors that makes rose quartz a highly sought after gemstone.
Amethyst is purple variation of quartz that’s very prized. Amethyst’s color emerges from the inclusion of iron mineral, virtually identical to citrine.
Smoky quartz crystal is a brownish gray, translucent variety of quartz that ranges in clarity from almost complete transparency to an almost-opaque brownish-gray or black crystal.
It is a silicon dioxide crystal. The smoky color results from free silicon formed from the silicon dioxide by natural irradiation. Most crystals are found near active volcano sites and were probably formed at temperatures of about 800 degrees C higher than those for clear quartz stones.
Citrine is yellow-to-orange colored quartz that’s prized for jewelry. Citrine forms at higher temperatures than amethyst but the coloring agent is virtually identical. A lot of commercially available citrine is actually heat-treated amethyst.
Ametrine is a combination of amethyst and citrine in one stone. Deep-colored specimens with straight variations can be quite expensive.
Blue Quartz is a blue variety of quartz with a few different coloring agents. The majority of blue quartz has sodium-heavy inclusions that lead to its color, but the exact mineral varies.
Prasiolite is an olive green quartz variety, which occurs very rarely in nature. Most known deposits are mined out and the bulk of the material available is irradiated or heat-treated amethyst.
A specific inclusion that consists of black rutile crystals contained in the quartz. Low-quality specimens may look “spotted” but high-quality rutilated quartz allows the crystals to be seen in their entirety.
Clear quartz crystal is a type of mineral known for crystallizing into amazing shapes and retaining their luster. This clarity and white coloring makes it easy to preserve this type of crystal, not allowing the oils from skin contact to darken or dull its colors. Clear quartz also found in many forms such as: amethyst, rose, cactus, citrine, dendritic.
Different Quartz Crystal Formations
Single, hexagonal quartz crystals that are elongated. These are commonly found in rock shops at low prices, especially if they aren’t crystal clear. Most are terminated on only one end, having been broken off from the base stone but double-terminated needles are sometimes found.
The difference between a point and a needle is mostly one of personal taste, but points are usually single-terminated quartz crystals that are wider than those considered needles.
Many specimens include a ton of points centered on the base stone. These are another common specimen type.
Quartz crystals sometimes form on the face of other quartz crystals, when a long needle-like crystal forms on a larger point it’s often called a companion crystal.
Double-terminated quartz crystals that form small crystals with high clarity. They’re a highly sought-after specimen by most quartz collectors.
Enhydro crystals contain small pockets of water as an inclusion. Enhydro crystals form in a variety of ways, but all of them have trapped water at some point in their lifecycle.
A Note About Unnatural Quartz
Quartz is often treated, and some of the fancier varieties are synthetic in origin.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but any collector should be aware.
Heat treating and radiation treating are both common for quartz gemstones, bringing out deeper colors or even changing them. Heat-treated amethyst is often sold as citrine, for instance, but it should be noted that the only difference between amethyst and citrine is the temperature at which they were formed.
Since they’re chemically identical, you usually have to judge based on how the colors look. In formations like clusters, the stones will often have a “burnt” look to their coloration, with the deep orange even fading into brown at some points.
Other stones are almost always treated, such as prasiolite. Natural stocks of the stuff are low and the vast majority is heat-treated or irradiated to bring in the characteristic olive hue.
In addition to treated specimens, collectors will also find “mystic quartz” available. It’s a pretty, iridescent piece of quartz but it’s not natural in the slightest. Instead, these stones have a thin layer of gold or titanium deposited on their surface.
In other words, it’s wholly synthetic and it really only appeared on the market in the late 1990s.
Anytime you see a “new” variation of quartz available do your research. Most aren’t natural. For many collectors, that’s an important distinction.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a macrocrystalline form of silicon dioxide(SiO₂ or silica). The crystal formations are visible to the naked eye, unlike cryptocrystalline forms of silica like chalcedony or jasper.
Quartz crystals are usually hexagonal, with six sides and a terminated point resembling a pyramid. Some crystals are double terminated, meaning they have a point on both ends.
Quartz has a long history of use, and not just as jewelry. Rock crystal has been used to make everything from sculptures to crystalline plates and bowls. The crystals are also favored among those who believe in the healing power of stones.
Quartz also displays a strong piezoelectric effect due to its structure. It’s commonly used to power watches and in audio sensors, where its unique properties can really shine.
Quartz is also the main constituent of a wide variety of stones that we’ll cover in a moment. The truth is, however, there’s enough variation within just “regular” clear quartz to keep a collector occupied for a lifetime!