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Quartz (Wiki)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quartz, Tibet.jpg
Quartz crystal cluster from Tibet, China
Category Silicate mineral
(repeating unit)
Silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2)
Strunz classification 04.DA.05
Dana classification
Crystal symmetry Trigonal 32
Unit cell a = 4.9133 Å, c = 5.4053 Å; Z=3
Color Colorless through various colors to black
Crystal habit 6-sided prism ending in 6-sided pyramid (typical), drusy, fine-grained to microcrystalline, massive
Crystal system α-quartz: trigonal trapezohedral class 3 2; β-quartz: hexagonal622[1]
Twinning Common Dauphine law, Brazil law and Japan law
Cleavage {0110} Indistinct
Fracture Conchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scalehardness 7 – lower in impure varieties (defining mineral)
Luster Vitreous – waxy to dull when massive
Streak White
Diaphaneity Transparent to nearly opaque
Specific gravity 2.65; variable 2.59–2.63 in impure varieties
Optical properties Uniaxial (+)
Refractive index nω = 1.543–1.545
nε = 1.552–1.554
Birefringence +0.009 (B-G interval)
Pleochroism None
Melting point 1670 °C (β tridymite) 1713 °C (β cristobalite)[1]
Solubility Insoluble at STP; 1 ppmmass at 400 °C and 500 lb/in2 to 2600 ppmmass at 500 °C and 1500 lb/in2[1]
Other characteristics Piezoelectric, may betriboluminescent, chiral (hence optically active if not racemic)
References [2][3][4][5]

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 siliconoxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2.

There are many different varieties of quartz, several of which are semi-precious gemstones. Especially in Europe and the Middle East, varieties of quartz have been since antiquity the most commonly used minerals in the making of jewelry and hardstone carvings.

The word "quartz" is derived from the German word "Quarz" and its Middle High German ancestor "twarc", which probably originated in Slavic (cf. Czech tvrdý ("hard"), Polish twardy ("hard")).[6]

Crystal habit and structure

Crystal structure of α-quartz

Quartz belongs to the trigonal crystal system. The ideal crystal shape is a six-sided prism terminating with six-sided pyramids at each end. In nature quartz crystals are often twinned, distorted, or so intergrown with adjacent crystals of quartz or other minerals as to only show part of this shape, or to lack obvious crystal faces altogether and appear massive. Well-formed crystals typically form in a 'bed' that has unconstrained growth into a void, but because the crystals must be attached at the other end to a matrix, only one termination pyramid is present. A quartz geode is such a situation where the void is approximately spherical in shape, lined with a bed of crystals pointing inward.

α-quartz crystallizes in the trigonal crystal system, space group P3121 and P3221 respectively. β-quartz belongs to the hexagonal system, space group P6222 and P6422, respectively.[7] These spacegroups are truly chiral (they each belong to the 11 enantiomorphous pairs). Both α-quartz and β-quartz are examples of chiral crystal structures composed of achiral building blocks (SiO4 tetrahedra in the present case). The transformation between α- and β-quartz only involves a comparatively minor rotation of the tetrahedra with respect to one another, without change in the way they are linked.

Varieties (according to color)

Figurine of a child carved in rock crystal,hittite, between 1500 and 1200 BC

Pure quartz, traditionally called rock crystal (sometimes called clear quartz), is colorless and transparent(clear) or translucent, and has often been used for hardstone carvings, such as the Lothair Crystal. Common colored varieties include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and others. Quartz goes by an array of different names. The most important distinction between types of quartz is that ofmacrocrystalline (individual crystals visible to the unaided eye) and the microcrystalline or cryptocrystallinevarieties (aggregates of crystals visible only under high magnification). The cryptocrystalline varieties are either translucent or mostly opaque, while the transparent varieties tend to be macrocrystalline.Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica consisting of fine intergrowths of both quartz, and itsmonoclinic polymorph moganite.[8] Other opaque gemstone varieties of quartz, or mixed rocks including quartz, often including contrasting bands or patterns of color, are agate, sard, onyx, carnelian, heliotrope, and jasper.



Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown. Natural citrines are rare; most commercial citrines are heat-treated amethysts or smoky quartzes. It is nearly impossible to tell cut citrine from yellow topaz visibly, but they differ in hardness. Citrine has ferric impurities, and is rarely found naturally. Brazil is the leading producer of citrine, with much of its production coming from the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The name is derived from Latin citrina which means "yellow" and is also the origin of the word "citron." Sometimes citrine and amethyst can be found together in the same crystal, which is then referred to as ametrine.[9]

Citrine is one of three traditional birthstones for the month of November.

Rose quartz

An elephant carved in rose quartz, 10 cm (4 inches) long

Rose quartz is a type of quartz which exhibits a pale pink to rose red hue. The color is usually considered as due to trace amounts of titanium,iron, or manganese, in the massive material. Some rose quartz contains microscopic rutile needles which produces an asterism in transmitted light. Recent X-ray diffraction studies suggest that the color is due to thin microscopic fibers of possibly dumortierite within the massive quartz.[10]

In crystal form (rarely found) it is called pink quartz and its color is thought to be caused by trace amounts of phosphate or aluminium. The color in crystals is apparently photosensitive and subject to fading. The first crystals were found in a pegmatite found near Rumford, Maine, USA, but most crystals on the market come from Minas Gerais, Brazil.[11]

Rose quartz is not popular as a gem – it is generally too clouded by impurities to be suitable for that purpose. Rose quartz is more often carved into figures such as people or hearts. Hearts are commonly found because rose quartz is pink and an affordable mineral.


Amethyst Guerrero, Mexico

Amethyst is a popular form of quartz that ranges from a bright to dark or dull purple color.

Smoky quartz

Smoky quartz

Smoky quartz is a gray, translucent version of quartz. It ranges in clarity from almost complete transparency to a brownish-gray crystal that is almost opaque. Some can also be black.

Milky quartz

Milky quartz sample
Ancient Roman cameo onyxengraved gem of Augustus

Milk quartz or milky quartz may be the most common variety of crystalline quartz and can be found almost anywhere. The white color may be caused by minute fluid inclusions of gas, liquid, or both, trapped during the crystal formation. The cloudiness caused by the inclusions effectively bars its use in most optical and quality gemstone applications.[12]

Varieties (according to microstructure)

Although many of the varietal names historically arose from the color of the mineral, current scientific naming schemes refer primarily to the microstructure of the mineral. Color is a secondary identifier for the cryptocrystalline minerals, although it is a primary identifier for the macrocrystalline varieties. This does not always hold true.

Major varieties of quartz
Chalcedony Cryptocrystalline quartz and moganite mixture. The term is generally only used for white or lightly colored material. Otherwise more specific names are used.
Agate Multi-colored, banded chalcedony, semi-translucent to translucent
Onyx Agate where the bands are straight, parallel and consistent in size.
Jasper Opaque cryptocrystalline quartz, typically red to brown
Aventurine Translucent chalcedony with small inclusions (usually mica) that shimmer.
Tiger's Eye Fibrous gold to red-brown colored quartz, exhibiting chatoyancy.
Rock crystal Clear, colorless
Amethyst Purple, transparent
Citrine Yellow to reddish orange to brown, greenish yellow
Prasiolite Mint green, transparent
Rose quartz Pink, translucent, may display diasterism
Rutilated quartz Contains acicular (needles) inclusions of rutile
Milk quartz White, translucent to opaque, may display diasterism
Smoky quartz Brown to gray, opaque
Carnelian Reddish orange chalcedony, translucent
Dumortierite quartz Contains large amounts of dumortierite crystals

Synthetic and artificial treatments

A synthetic quartz crystal grown by thehydrothermal method, about 19 cm long and weighing about 127 grams

Not all varieties of quartz are naturally occurring. Prasiolite, an olive colored material, is produced by heat treatment; natural prasiolite has also been observed in Lower Silesia in Poland. Although citrine occurs naturally, the majority is the result of heat-treated amethyst.Carnelian is widely heat-treated to deepen its color.

Because natural quartz is often twinned, synthetic quartz is produced for use in industry. Large, flawless, single crystals are synthesized in an autoclave via the hydrothermal process; emeralds are also synthesized in this fashion.


Quartz is an essential constituent of granite and other felsic igneous rocks. It is very common in sedimentary rocks such as sandstoneand shale and is also present in variable amounts as an accessory mineral in most carbonate rocks. It is also a common constituent ofschist, gneiss, quartzite and other metamorphic rocks. Because of its resistance to weathering it is very common in stream sediments and in residual soils. Quartz, therefore, occupies the lowest potential to weather in the Goldich dissolution series.

Quartz occurs in hydrothermal veins as gangue along with ore minerals. Large crystals of quartz are found in pegmatites. Well-formed crystals may reach several meters in length and weigh hundreds of kilograms.

Naturally occurring quartz crystals of extremely high purity, necessary for the crucibles and other equipment used for growing silicon wafers in the semiconductor industry, are expensive and rare. A major mining location for high purity quartz is the Spruce Pine Gem Mine in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, United States.[13]

The largest documented single crystal of quartz was found near Itapore, Goiaz, Brazil; it measured approximately 6.1×1.5×1.5 m and weighed more than 44 tonnes.[14]

Related silica minerals

Tridymite and cristobalite are high-temperature polymorphs of SiO2 that occur in high-silica volcanic rocks. Coesite is a denser polymorph of quartz found in some meteorite impact sites and in metamorphic rocks formed at pressures greater than those typical of the Earth's crust. Stishovite is a yet denser and higher-pressure polymorph of quartz found in some meteorite impact sites. Lechatelierite is an amorphous silica glass SiO2 which is formed by lightning strikes in quartz sand.


Fatimid carved rock crystal (clear quartz) vase, c. 1000
Quartz crystal demonstratingtransparency

The word "quartz" comes from the German About this sound Quarz,[15] which is of Slavic origin (Czech miners called it křemen). Other sources attribute the word's origin to the Saxon word Querkluftertz, meaning cross-vein ore.[16]

Quartz is the most common material identified as the mystical substance maban in Australian Aboriginal mythology. It is found regularly in passage tomb cemeteries in Europe in a burial context, such as Newgrange or Carrowmore in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish word for quartz is grian cloch, which means 'stone of the sun'. Quartz was also used in Prehistoric Ireland, as well as many other countries, for stone tools; both vein quartz and rock crystal were knapped as part of the lithic technology of the prehistoric peoples.[17]

While jade has been since earliest times the most prized semi-precious stone for carving in East Asia and Pre-Columbian America, in Europe and the Middle East the different varieties of quartz were the most commonly used for the various types of jewelry andhardstone carving, including engraved gems and cameo gems, rock crystal vases, and extravagant vessels. The tradition continued to produce objects that were very highly valued until the mid-19th century, when it largely fell from fashion except in jewelry. Cameo technique exploits the bands of color in onyx and other varieties.

Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed quartz to be water ice, permanently frozen after great lengths of time. (The word "crystal" comes from the Greek word κρύσταλλος, "ice".) He supported this idea by saying that quartz is found near glaciers in the Alps, but not on volcanic mountains, and that large quartz crystals were fashioned into spheres to cool the hands. He also knew of the ability of quartz to split light into a spectrum. This idea persisted until at least the 17th century.

In the 17th century, Nicolas Steno's study of quartz paved the way for modern crystallography. He discovered that no matter how distorted a quartz crystal, the long prism faces always made a perfect 60° angle.

Quartz's piezoelectric properties were discovered by Jacques and Pierre Curie in 1880. The quartz oscillator or resonator was first developed by Walter Guyton Cady in 1921.[18] George Washington Pierce designed and patented quartz crystal oscillators in 1923.[19]Warren Marrison created the first quartz oscillator clock based on the work of Cady and Pierce in 1927.[20]

Efforts to synthesize quartz began in the mid nineteenth century as scientists attempted to create minerals under laboratory conditions that mimicked the conditions in which the minerals formed in nature: German geologist Karl Emil von Schafhäutl (1803-1890) was the first person to synthesize quartz when in 1845 he created microscopic quartz crystals in a pressure cooker.[21] However, the quality and size of the crystals that were produced by these early efforts, were poor.[22] By the 1930s, the electronics industry had become dependent on quartz crystals. The only source of suitable crystals was Brazil; however, World War II disrupted the supplies from Brazil, so nations attempted to synthesize quartz on a commercial scale. German minerologist Richard Nacken (1884-1971) achieved some success during the 1930s and 1940s.[23] After the war, many laboratories attempted to grow large quartz crystals. In the United States, the U.S. Army Signal Corps contracted with Bell Laboratories and with the Brush Development Company of Cleveland, Ohio to synthesize crystals following Nacken's lead.[24][25] (Prior to World War II, Brush Development produced piezoelectric crystals for record players.) By 1948, Brush Development had grown crystals that were 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter, the largest to date.[26][27] By the 1950s, synthetic quartz crystals were being produced and sold commercially.


Quartz crystals have piezoelectric properties; they develop an electric potential upon the application of mechanical stress. An early use of this property of quartz crystals was inphonograph pickups. One of the most common piezoelectric uses of quartz today is as a crystal oscillator. The quartz clock is a familiar device using the mineral. The resonant frequency of a quartz crystal oscillator is changed by mechanically loading it, and this principle is used for very accurate measurements of very small mass changes in the quartz crystal microbalance and in thin-film thickness monitors.

Gallery of quartz mineral specimens from around the world


See also



  1. ^ a b c Deer, W. A., R. A. Howie and J. Zussman, An Introduction to the Rock Forming Minerals, Logman, 1966, pp. 340–355 ISBN 0-582-44210-9
  2. ^ Anthony, John W.; Bideaux, Richard A.; Bladh, Kenneth W. and Nichols, Monte C. (ed.). "Quartz" (PDF). Handbook of Mineralogy. III (Halides, Hydroxides, Oxides). Chantilly, VA, US: Mineralogical Society of America. ISBN 0962209724.
  3. ^ Quartz. Mindat.org. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  4. ^ Quartz. Webmineral.com. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  5. ^ Hurlbut, Cornelius S.; Klein, Cornelis (1985). Manual of Mineralogy (20 ed.). ISBN 0-471-80580-7.
  6. ^ Harper, Douglas. "quartz". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  7. ^ Crystal Data, Determinative Tables, ACA Monograph No. 5, American Crystallographic Association, 1963
  8. ^ Heaney, Peter J. (1994). "Structure and Chemistry of the low-pressure silica polymorphs". Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 29 (1): 1–40.
  9. ^ Citrine. Mindat.org (2013-03-01). Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  10. ^ Rose Quartz. Mindat.org (2013-02-18). Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  11. ^ Colored Varieties of Quartz, Caltech
  12. ^ Milky quartz at Mineral Galleries. Galleries.com. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  13. ^ Nelson, Sue (2009-08-02). "Silicon Valley's secret recipe". BBC News.
  14. ^ Rickwood, P. C. (1981). "The largest crystals". American Mineralogist 66: 885–907 (903).
  15. ^ German Loan Words in English. German.about.com (2012-04-10). Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  16. ^ Mineral Atlas, Queensland University of Technology. Mineralatlas.com. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  17. ^ Driscoll, Killian (2010). Understanding quartz technology in early prehistoric Ireland. PhD thesis. UCD School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland. Scribd.com. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  18. ^ "The Quartz Watch – Walter Guyton Cady". The Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution.
  19. ^ "The Quartz Watch – George Washington Pierce". The Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution.
  20. ^ "The Quartz Watch – Warren Marrison". The Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution.
  21. ^ Schafhäutl (1845) "Die neuesten geologischen Hypothesen und ihr Verhältniß zur Naturwissenschaft überhaupt" (The latest geological hypotheses and their relation to science in general), Gelehrte Anzeigen (published by: die königliche Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences)), 20 : 557, 561-567, 569-576, 577-596. On page 578, he states: "5) Bildeten sich aus Wasser, in welchen ich im Papinianischen Topfe frisch gefällte Kieselsäure aufgelöst hatte, beym Verdampfen schon nach 8 Tagen Krystalle, die zwar mikroscopisch, aber sehr wohl erkenntlich aus sechseitigen Prismen mit derselben gewöhnlichen Pyramide bestanden." (There formed from water in which I had dissolved freshly precipitated silica in a Papin pot [i.e., pressure cooker], after just 8 days of evaporating, crystals, which albeit were microscopic but consisted of very easily recognizable six-sided prisms with their usual pyramids.)
  22. ^ K. Byrappa and Masahiro Yoshimura, Handbook of Hydrothermal Technology (Norwich, New York: Noyes Publications, 2001), Chapter 2: History of Hydrothermal Technology.
  23. ^ Nacken, R. (1950) "Hydrothermal Synthese als Grundlage für Züchtung von Quarz-Kristallen" (Hydrothermal synthesis as a basis for the production of quartz crystals),Chemiker Zeitung, 74 : 745–749.
  24. ^ Danforth R. Hale (April 16, 1948) "The laboratory growing of quartz," Science, 107(2781) : 393-394.
  25. ^ Michael Lombardi (October 2011) "The evolution of time measurement, part 2: Quartz clocks," IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine, 14 (5) : 41-48; see page 45. Available on-line at: NIST.gov.
  26. ^ "Record crystal," Popular Science, 154 (2) : 148 (February 1949).
  27. ^ Brush Development's team of scientists included: Danforth R. Hale, Andrew R. Sobek, and Charles Baldwin Sawyer (1895-1964). The company's U.S. patents included:

External links



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