Usually, I like to high light a single gemstone and discuss some of its unique properties. This time I want to discuss a vast group of gemstones - the quartz family. Quartz gemstones have a vast variety of deep colors, durability and affordability. What other family in the realm of jewelry and technology can boast all this? Quartz! Composed of silicon and oxygen, quartz is the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust with varieties that include amethyst, citrine, ametrine, smoky quartz, rose quartz, agate, jasper, onyx, and many more. Examples of quartz jewelry have been found all over the world. And, at 7 on the Mohs hardness scale and having no cleavage properties, quartz is tougher and more durable then many gemstones. The beauty and variety of quartz is quickly raising its status - among customers and jewelers alike as colored stone jewelry continues to be women’s newest favorite accessory - from simple to spectacular!
Watch making was revolutionized when the Swiss captured quartz’s piezoelectric property and began producing quartz watches. Quartz movements run on batteries, simplifying on lives. This ability to generate energy also made quartz essential in the development of much of today’s technology.
Quartz develops with one of two structure types: macrocrystalline and cryptocrystalline. Macro forms have very large crystal structures that are visible to the unaided eye and include the most well-known varieties such as rock crystal (clear), smoky quartz (brown), citrine (yellow) and amethyst (purple). Another example that was virtually unheard of till recently but is increasing in popularity and usually seen in big chunky pieces of jewelry is rutilated quartz with is typically clear with what looks like straw throughout as inclusions much like the debris trapped inside of amber. Cryptocrystalline structures are tiny, too small to even be seen under a lighted microscope, and include gemstones such as calcedony (blue or lavender) and agate (almost every color imaginable and variegated with multiple colors in a single stone). These gemstones are opaque and cut into cabochons. This variety is less expensive than the more well known, popular faceted ones. Varied and versatile, the quartz family of gemstones have something to offer everyone.
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