Gem Review: The Quartz Family. Size, Colour, and Strength at a Good Price ¶
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Ever wondered what qualities the citrine, amethyst, or tiger's eye on your jewelry have? These are all varieties of quartz, which is characterized by its beautiful colors and great durability.
Quartz is a naturally occurring mineral. It is the most abundant in the Earth's crust. It is clear when it forms as rock crystal, which is free of any impurities. When there are too many contaminants in the crystal it is as common as sand and usually ends up as decorative gravel on gardens or driveways. When the perfect amount of foreign material gets trapped inside the crystal during growth, however, we get beautiful gems of varying colours and sizes.
Gems cut out of quartz material are quite resilient. They have an above average scratch resistance rating of 7 on the MOHS hardness scale, which is about as hard as hardened steel. Quartz also has no cleavage plains, which means it is tough against mechanical shock like hitting your amethyst ring on a door frame or dropping an earring as you put it on.
Gem quality quartz can be found in a variety of colours. Some of our favorite stones are quartz and many people might not even realize it. Citrine is quartz of a yellow hue. It can display beautiful shades of yellow form deep orangey colours to bright greenish tones. Amethyst is the most popular form of quartz and is violet. Smoky quartz is an elegant brown colour. Other varieties can be rose, green, and can even have golden, or black needle-like crystals, that have grown inside them to form unique patterns as seen in the Cosmic Drops Tondo ring by Pianegonda. Chalcedony, which is the name for all quartz that is composed of many microscopic, aggregate crystals (instead of one big one), is often banded, incorporating different colours in one stone. Onyx, tiger's eye, and agate are examples of aggregate quartz material.
Another advantage of using quartz gems is that they are inexpensive. This means that you can get jewelry, adorned with beautiful, colourful, and tough stones for very reasonable prices. The Pianegonda Cosmic Drops collection is an example. Finally, because they are less expensive then other coloured gems of the same quality, and the crystals can grow to large sizes in nature, big spectacular stones can be cut to be used in fine jewelry, as seen in the honey citrine ring from the Color Carved collection by Ron Hami. And you can even get huge colourful stones that are synthesized using the hydrothermal method and used in very fashionable jewelry like the Rebecca St. Tropez Collection.
Quartz gems are every where, and its a good thing, because we could never get enough of them. Picures: Natural smoky quartz crystal, rings from left to right are adorned with hydrothermal citrine, natural honey citrine, and amethyst.