Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth and comprises the largest and most diverse family in the mineral kingdom. This extraordinary gemstone comes in just about any colour conceivable and in a spectacular array of crystal habits. Quartz is a special stone not only for its impressive range of uses but also because it is able to harmonise and amplify our energies while also protecting us.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a Silicon Dioxide which means it is composed of silicon and oxygen. It is also one of Earth’s most abundant minerals (second only to Feldspar), which not only occurs in nearly all mineral environments but it is also an important constituent of a vast number of rocks.
This plentiful rock is an incredibly varied mineral, which presents itself in all sorts of different forms and habits. It may be transparent and glasslike, milky or striated. Often found in clusters, Quartz occurs as prismatic hexagonal crystals in compact masses and druses or even as dense fibrous or grainy formations (without visible crystals).
Moreover, it can be found in pretty much any colour conceivable: from clear to pink (known as Rose Quartz), to brown, black, green, orange, blue, yellow (known as Citrine or Amertine), purple and so on. Consequently, Quartz has more varieties than any other mineral, counting, to date, more than 500 variety names.
Characteristics of Quartz
Quartz is a relatively hard stone, measuring 7 on the Mohs Scale. Other characterising traits are its vitreous lustre and transparent to translucent transparency.
In terms of its crystal habits, these are widely variable. These include grainy, bladed, drusy, as inner lining of geodes, pointy pyramids on a matrix, amygdules, dense agglomerations of small crystals, massive, stalactitic, globular, and in nodules (this is by no means an extensive list).
Quartz crystals are rather unique and identifiable, due to their pointed and often uneven terminations. These can be minute stubby crystals or enormous prismatic crystals, and can be striated horizontally and are at times doubly terminated (such as in the case of the Herkimer Diamond variety). Quartz crystals frequently twin; one of the most unusual and interesting habits is the ‘Japanese twin’ (where two crystals contact at an angle of 90 degrees). Other spectacular habits are the ‘sceptre growth’, which is when one of the terminating ends of a crystal sticks out and towers over the rest, or the ‘phantom growth’, which is when one crystal forms over another, leaving a sort of ghosted form inside.
Where can Quartz be found?
As mentioned above, after Feldspar, Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in our planet’s crust. It is a component of a huge variety of rock types as it occurs in almost all acid igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Furthermore, great quality Quartz specimens are found in numerous localities in all corners of the globe.
Different parts of the world offer different varieties of varying quality. Some of the largest crystals (perfectly formed and weighing several tonnes) come from mines in the state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, while excellent Rock Crystal clusters are found in Bourg d’Oissans (especially at La Gardette Mine) in Isere, France. In addition, large, flawless Rock Crystals are abundant in the United States, specifically in Arkansas (the Hot Springs area, Mount Ida in the Ouachita Mountains and Jeffery Quarry) and in California (San Diego County).
Though Rose Quartz can be common, good quality specimens are rare and only found in a handful of localities, such as Galileia and Jequirinhonha Valley in Minas Gerais, Brazil and also in Newry, Maine, United States. Fine Smoky Quartz instead is mainly found in El Paso County in Colorado, USA, and in the Alps (in the St Gotthard in Switzerland and in Chamonix-Mont Blanc in France), while good quality Rutilated Quartz can be found in Novo Horizonte and Ibitiara in Brazil.
Varieties of Quartz
The term Quartz refers to a whole family of stones, which is found on almost every continent and in pretty much any colour imaginable. The Quartz family includes both compact forms (labelled cryptocrystalline or microcrystalline Quartz) and well crystallised forms (commonly called macrocrystalline Quartz) of silica.
In the past, many varieties of Quartz were considered species of their own and were not systematically grouped together. Their common chemical composition was only discovered at the end of the 18th Century, and it was only in 1823 that the Swedish chemist J.J. Berzelius decomposed Quartz to discover that it was a compound of oxygen and the newly discovered element, silicon.
After such discovery, Quartz varieties were regrouped and identified as ‘macrocrystalline’ or ‘cryptocrystalline’/‘microcrystalline’ Quartz. The first group, often referred to simply as ‘Quartz’, forms crystals or has a macroscopic crystalline structure, while the varieties included in the second group present a dense structure with no visible crystals and are often identified as ‘Chalcedony’. Cryptocrystalline (or microcrystalline) Quartz is further divided into ‘fibrous’ or ‘grainy’ based on the visual appearance of thick sections when examined under a polarising microscope.
The following are but a few of the most popular macrocrystalline varieties:
Rock Crystal, considered the ‘ideal type’, is a clear variety with an often milky base.
Amethyst, known as the ‘Bishop’s Stone’, is a pale purple to deep violet stone.
Avventurine, with its stunning metallic iridescence (caused by tiny Mica, Geothite or Hematite scales), may be blue, green or reddish-brown.
Cactus Quartz, also known as Spirit Quartz or Porcupine Quartz, is an unusual formation of Quartz (usually Amethyst, Citrine or Smoky Quartz, or even a combination of the three) consisting of a large, candle-shaped crystal with a faceted termination point (the core) encrusted with a multitude of smaller spiky crystals. Cactus Quartz, which first appeared in 2001, is found specifically in the Boekenhoutshoek area (of the Magaliesberg Mountain region) in South Africa.
Citrine is a transparent, pale to golden yellow, orange or light brown variety.
Cognac Quartz (also known as Smoky Quartz) is a transparent gem, dark grey to smoky brown in colour. Its gorgeous dark, champagne hues are owed to the merging of nitrogen or hydrogen with carbon atoms in the course of its formation. This variety is hugely sought after to be cut and polished as gemstones to be used in the making of necklaces and rings.
Blue Quartz is a clear variety with minute blue inclusions which convey it a pale to mid-blue colour. It is rather rare in nature and very uncommon in crystal form. Most Blue Quartz on the market is, in fact, what is commonly known as ‘Aqua Aura’, a clear crystal which has been synthetically enhanced with a coating of gold or other metals to give it a deep sky blue or neon blue colour.
Milky or Snow Quartz, often known as Quartzite, is opaque and white.
Pink Quartz is a rarer variety and forms in clusters of small, well-formed crystals. Its transparency is translucent to transparent and is a stunning pale to deep reddish-pink.
Prase is a Quartzite with actinolite inclusions, which give it a beautiful leek-green colour.
Prasiolite is a leek-green variety of Quartz, also known as Green Amethyst. It does not usually occur naturally, rather it is obtained by treating yellowish Quartz or Amethyst. However, only the Quartz specifically from the Montezuma deposit in Brazil’s Minas Gerais can be heated, at a temperature of about 500° C, to produce green Prasiolite. Unfortunatley, the colour produced is not totally stable, and is known to fade when exposed to strong sunlight.
Rose Quartz is a variety which occurs in large, translucent masses. It does not form crystal faces or crystals (unlike Pink Quartz which does) and is never transparent. It is not, however, a cryptocrystalline variety as it is made up of intergrown crystal sub-individuals.
Tiger’s Eye, Hawk’s (or Falcon’s) Eye and Cat’s Eye are all varieties of Quartz layered with chatoyant strips of hornblende and asbestos. These varieties differ from each other in colour: Tiger’s Eye is golden brown, Hawk’s Eye is blue-black and Cat’s Eye is greenish-grey to green.
The following are the most popular cryptocrystalline or microcrystalline varieties of the fibrous type:
Agate is found in pretty much every colour and is usually banded in layers.
Carnelian is an orange to deep red-orange, translucent variety.
Chrysoprase is a rare green variety and usually opaque.
Onyx is an opaque to semi-opaque mineral, typically homogeneous in colour it can either be black, dark grey or brown. It is often used to carve cameos.
Sard is a brown variety with a reddish hue.
The following are the most popular cryptocrystalline or microcrystalline varieties of the b:
Chert is a Chalcedony variety which resembles Flint, though is more brittle, and is usually brown, black or grey.
Jasper is an opaque, large-grained variety found in most colours, usually layered or patterned.
Heliotrope or Bloodstone is a dark green variety with red spots.
Uses of Quartz
Quartz has an impressive range of uses spanning from being employed in the manufacture of electronic components to being cut to create stunning jewellery. It is much valued for its pyroelectric and piezoelectric properties, thanks to which it is able to transform mechanical force into electromagnetic energy, and vice versa.
Its ability to store, amplify and transform energy is used throughout the technology world. For instance, clear Rock Crystal Quartz is used to create oscillators in radios, pressure gauges and watches and it is used in the study of optics. In the computer industry, it is an essential element in the production of important silicon semiconductors and for the creation of memory chips. It is also used in ultrasound devices, microphones, radio transmitters and receivers.
Furthermore, minute pebbles of Quartz are the main constituent of sand (also known as silica sand), which, in turn, is the primary ingredient for the manufacture of glass and ceramics and to create foundry moulds in metal casting. Quartz is also the main component of sandstone, which is a widely used building stone and still, to this day, used whole to make grindstones, millstones and whetstones.
This versatile mineral can be crushed and used as an abrasive for grinding glass, sandblasting and to cut soft stones. In other guises it also has important laboratory applications. Fused, for instance, it can be used to transmit ultraviolet light, while Quartz fibers are utilised to create extremely sensitive weighing devices.
As well as having an array of practical uses, Quartz is also sought after in the gem trade. Citrine and Amethyst are the most well known gem varieties, but other varieties such as Smoky Quartz, Rock Crystal, Aventurine and Rose Quartz are also much in demand, which may be cut into faceted gems, or polished into shiny tumbled stones. Quartz is also very popular among gem collectors, some of whom will focus their collection on Quartz alone.
Properties of Quartz
Quartz is a very powerful stone, known as the ‘Universal Crystal’ because of its wide range of uses. It is able to enhance energy by absorbing, focusing, balancing and even amplifying it. As it is able to direct and enhance energy it is greatly beneficial for healing, meditation and protection. For this reason, Quartz is also considered an outstanding, all-purpose healer stone as it is able to amplify and focus healing energy.
To benefit from the properties of Quartz, carry or wear a stone or simply touch it as needed. Alternatively, Quartz crystals can be added to bath water or, by soaking them in water from first light to midday, can be used to make an elixir to drink or splash onto pulse points.
On a physical level, it can be used to treat almost any condition. It, for instance, stimulates the immune and the circulatory systems, it has been used to treat vertigo, migraine headaches and motion sickness and can also be used to aid the metabolism, help with weight loss and counter exhaustion and fatigue. It is also frequently taken in the form of a crystal elixir to get rid of toxins and to treat digestive disorders and infections to the bladder or kidneys. Clear Quartz in particular is said to be greatly beneficial in treating skin disorders and to sooth painful or injured areas, especially in the instance of burns and bone injuries.
On an emotional level, Clear Quartz can be used as a deep soul cleanser to purify and enhance the connection between the physical dimension of our body and the mind, and it is also exceptional for ongoing personal energy. It is able to focus on inner negativity, helping us replace it with positive thoughts and feelings. This variety of Quartz thus helps us gain a better perception of the world, increasing awareness and clarity in thinking while providing us with perseverance, patience and enhanced energy. Furthermore, it aids concentration and memory retention as it filters out distractions, and also inspires us to live, love and laugh.
As already briefly mentioned, Quartz is a stone able to dispel negativity and clear away negative energies. Because of these properties it is a powerful protective stone, and it is often used to cleanse and purify the spiritual, physical and mental planes. Quartz enhances spirituality, wisdom and spiritual growth and increases inspiration and creativity too (as it clarifies thought processes and emotions). Furthermore, it helps with studying, retaining information and concentration.
As well as amplifying energy, this wonderful crystal is often used for storing and retrieving information of different types, which makes it an exceptional stone for programming to use for particular purposes. These same properties make Quartz a versatile and multidimensional stone for communication, meditation, healing, expansion of consciousness, past life recall and attracting love or prosperity. To benefit from the virtues of this fabulous gemstone, we must feel in harmony with it and have positive intentions.
Clear Quartz is an astounding crystal as it is able to harmonise all chakras as it reverberates with all colour frequencies. This variety of Quartz is particularly effective on the Crown Chakra (seventh chakra or Sahaswara) located at the top of the head, our gateway to the universe beyond our bodies and connects us to the higher planes of existence. This chakra is responsible for how we think and respond to the world around us, it is also the source of our spirituality and beliefs.
When the Crown Chakra is in balance, our energies also feel balanced and we better understand our place in the universe. Thus, we gain a sense of purpose and feel at peace with our environment. Moreover, clear Quartz can help us understand setbacks as an essential part of life and we thus accept them without feeling too unsettled.
Quartz is a great gemstone to be used in meditation as it filters out distractions and helps empty the mind, especially if placed in proximity of the Third Eye Chakra. It helps open one up to feelings of ‘oneness’ and enter deep meditative states. Furthermore, during meditation, a clear Quartz crystal can be used to visualize one’s desired outcome or intent. The crystal will ‘remember’ and magnify the energy, allowing for powerful psychic amplification, so using the same crystal repeatedly allows for focused intent to manifest itself into reality. This sort of crystal ‘programming’ can help achieve goals in inner as well as outer life.