The Mineral quartz
Quartz is one of the most well-known minerals on earth. It occurs in basically all mineral
environments, and is the important constituent of many rocks.
Quartz is also the most varied of all minerals, occurring in all
different forms, habits, and colors. There are more variety names given
to Quartz than any other mineral. Although the Feldspars as a group are more prevalent than Quartz, as an individual mineral Quartz is the most common mineral.
Most mineral reference guides list Chalcedony as an individual mineral, but in reality it is a variety of Quartz. It is the microcrystalline form of Quartz, forming only occurs in microscopic, compacted crystals. This page deals only with the crystalline forms of Quartz. Chalcedony is listed on its own dedicated page in this guide. Other important varieties of Quartz, such as Amethyst, Citrine, and Agate, also have dedicated pages due to their popularity and individual varieties.
Some forms of Quartz, especially the gemstone forms, have their color enhanced. Almost all forms of the yellow-brown variety Citrine are in fact heat treated. Much Amethyst is also heat treated to intensify color, and a green transparent form known as "Green Amethyst" or "Prasiolite" is formed by heat treating certain types of Amethyst. There is also a transparent sky blue form of Quartz crystals, as well as a wildly iridescent type that are synthetically colored by irradiation of gold. In some localities, Hematite forms a thin red or brown layer internally in the Quartz crystal, giving it a natural bright red to brown coloring, and sometimes even a mild natural iridescence.
Quartz frequently forms the inner lining of geodes. Most geodes have an inner layer of larger crystalline Quartz, and an outer layer of Chalcedony or banded Agate.
For additional information, see the gemstone section on Quartz.
Colorless, white, purple, pink, brown, and black. Also gray, green, orange, yellow, blue, and red. Sometimes multicolored or banded.
Crystals, which are hexagonal in shape, vary in shape and size. Quartz crystals are unique and very identifiable with their pointed and often uneven terminations. Crystals can be in enormous prismatic and stubby crystals, or in pointed aggregates of such crystals. Crystals are usually striated horizontally, and are sometimes doubly terminated. Quartz crystal habits include drusy, grainy, bladed, as linings of geodes, as rounded waterworn pebbles, radiating, as pointy pyramids
on a matrix, as dense agglomerations of small crystals, massive,
globular, stalactitic, crusty, in nodules, and in amygdules.
Crystals frequently twin; a famous twinning habit is the Japanese twin, where two crystals contact at a 90º angle. Quartz
crystals may also contain a scepter
growth, where the top of a crystal bulges out from the rest of the
crystal, and may also form as phantom growth, where one crystal forms
over another, leaving a ghosted form inside.
The crystal structure of Quartz is a very complicated. As a result of a changeover from alpha to beta Quartz, crystals form as
hexagonal prisms with modified crystal faces.
Click here for a detailed explanation on the crystal structure of Quartz.
Varieties for Amethyst, Citrine, and Chalcedony are listed separately.
Purple variety of Quartz. For additional information, see the mineral page on Amethyst.
Quartz synthetically enhanced with a coating using gold (and sometimes other metals) to give it a neon blue or other neon color.
Opaque form of compact Quartz or Chalcedony containing small Mica, Hematite, or Goethite scales which cause a glistening effect. Although technically Aventurine is classified as rock due to its composition of several minerals, it most often is regarded as a variety of Quartz or Chalcedony. For additional information, see the gemstone page on Aventurine.
The blue variety of Quartz, which is very uncommon in nature and rarely in crystal form. Most "Blue Quartz" is what is popularly known as "Aqua Aura", essentially clear Rock Crystal synthetically irradiated with gold to form a deep sky blue color. Blue Quartz may also refer to a dull grayish-blue Quartz in massive form with Crocidolite inclusions.
Form of Quartz, usually Amethyst, Citrine, or a combination of the two, that contains a large crystal or crystals overgrown with a layer of spiky smaller crystals. Cactus Quartz is specific to Boekenhouthoek (Magaliesberg) in South Africa.
Yellow, orange, or brown variety of Quartz. For additional information, see the mineral page on Citrine.
Group of Quartz crystals with a white thread-like zone running through the interior, with the crystals having formed around the thread axis.
Exceptionally lustrous and clear Quartz crystals from the Herkimer Co. vicinity in the Mohawk Valley region of Central New York State. Herkimer Diamond crystals are usually doubly terminated and short.
White, translucent to opaque variety of Quartz.
Prasiolite describes a light green Quartz artificially colored by heat treatment of certain types of Amethyst. May also be called Green Amethyst by some jewelers.
Colorless, transparent variety of Quartz in large crystal form.
Pink variety of Quartz. For additional information, see the gemstone page on Rose Quartz.
Quartz crystal with a scepter like protrusion on the end of the crystal that is wider than the rest of the crystal.
Brown to black, "smoky" variety of Quartz. For additional information, see the gemstone page on Smoky Quartz.
Quartz is an important mineral with numerous uses. Sand, which is composed of tiny Quartz pebbles, is the primary ingredient for the manufacture of glass. Transparent Rock Crystal has many electronic uses; it is used as oscillators in radios, watches, and pressure gauges, and in the study of optics. Quartz is also used as an abrasive for sandblasting, grinding glass, and cutting soft stones. It is also essential in the computer industry, as the important silicon semiconductors are made from Quartz.
In addition to all the practical uses, Quartz is essential to the gem trade. (See the separate Quartz gemstone page.) Many varieties are faceted as gems. Amethyst and Citrine are the most well-known gem varieties. Rose Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Rock Crystal, and Aventurine are also cut or polished into gems. Small colorless Quartz crystals are worn by some as pendants for good luck.
Quartz is also a very popular among collectors. Certain collectors specialize their collection entirely on Quartz alone.
Fine Quartz crystals can be found throughout the globe. The localities that have produced exceptional Quartz are very extensive, and it is difficult to present only a select list of localities that are among the best-known for this mineral. Nevertheless, we have made an attempt, with the understanding that many important locations have been left out.
Some of the largest and most impressive Quartz crystals, weighing many tons and yet still perfectly formed, come from several pegmatite
districts in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. A well-known French locality of excellent Rock Crystal
clusters is the La Gardette Mine, Bourg d'Oisans, Isere.
In the U.S., flawless Rock Crystal of exceptional quality and abundance comes from Arkansas, most notably in the Hot Springs area, Garland Co.; and Mount Ida in the Ouachita Mountains, Montgomery Co. Dense, nail-like clusters of clear Quartz crystals are classics at the Jeffrey Quarry, Pulaski Co.
Lustrous, doubly terminated
, and often stubby crystals come from the Mohawk Valley region of central New York, in an area covered by parts of Herkimer, Montgomery, and Fulton Counties. Quartz crystals from this region are affectionately known as Herkimer Diamond
s, and are highly collectible and very popular with both novice and expert collectors. Specific occurrences within this region include the Ace of Diamond and adjacent Herkimer Diamonds Mine Resort in Middleville, Herkimer Co.; Diamond Acres and Hickory Hill, near Fonda, Montgomery Co.; and Crystal Grove, near Lassellsville, Fulton Co. Two other important localities in the region that are no longer active producers are the Benchmark Quarry, St. Johnsville, Montgomery Co.; and the Treasure Mountain Mine, Fall Hill, Little Falls, Herkimer Co.
Although Rose Quartz
is very common in massive
habit, good crystals are rare and only found in a few localities. These are mostly in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in Galileia (especially at Lavra da Pitorra); and in Itinga, in the Jequitinhonha Valley; as well as at Newry, Oxford Co., Maine.
Fine Smoky Quartz
comes from the Pikes Peak area, El Paso Co., Colorado. The Alps contain two very classic occurrences in Switzerland in St. Gotthard, Uri, Switzerland; and in Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France. The finest Rutilated Quartz
comes from Novo Horizonte and Ibitiara, Bahia, Brazil. Tall prismatic
Quartz colored dark green from Hedenbergite inclusion
s occur at Serifos Island, Greece. Exceptional Faden Quartz
can be found at the Dara Ismael Khan District, Waziristan, Pakistan.
Common Mineral Associations
Quartz occurs in virtually all mineral environments, and may be associated with almost every mineral.
Distingushing Similar Minerals
Beryl - harder (7½ - 8), lacks horizontal striations.
Feldspars - Softer (6), perfect cleavage.
Calcite - Much softer (3).
Images for the varieties Amethyst, Citrine, and Chalcedony are