Bead Library: Semiprecious Stone Beads

Quartz: The Most Common Forms | Semiprecious Stone Beads

Quartz: The Most Common Forms

By Beverly Fernandes

Quartz crystals form from one atom of silicon and two atoms of oxygen - SiO2 - and it is the most common form of crystal on the earth's surface. It combines with a multitude of other elements to form most of the earth’s crust. Quartz is the crystal clear form of this semi-precious gemstone. Amethyst is purple quartz; citrine is yellow quartz; rose quartz is pink quartz; smoky quartz is brown quartz; and morion is black quartz.

CLEAR QUARTZ or Rock Crystal
Description: Normally found as hexagonal crystals, the size ranges from grains of sand to large crystal columns. Clear crystal does not contain metallic oxides that give other varieties their characteristic colors.

Name Derivation: Crystal is derived from the Greek ‘krytallus’, a term now used to denote any crystallized mineral.

Lore: The Greeks and Romans believed it to be petrified water that was frozen so hard it would never melt. Rock Crystal is one of the birthstones for April.

Description: Amethyst, the violet form of quartz, is commonly found in North America, South America, Africa and Madagascar, in fact Amethyst is found on every continent. The color comes from a presence of iron atoms that influence it’s purple color and every area where it comes from gives it a different amount of iron and variants in its color. Madagascar and Hungarian amethyst is a bluish-violet, while stones from Mexico are reddish-violet and amethyst from Pennsylvania is a smoky purple while Brazil produces a clear purple amethyst.

Name derivation: From the Greek ‘amethystos,’ meaning ‘not drunken,’ because the Greeks believed that wearing an amethyst would prevent intoxication. One story has it that water poured into a goblet of amethyst would appear to be wine.

Lore: According to Greek legend, Bacchus, the god of wine, created this beautiful purple stone. To avenge an insult he vowed to have a tiger devour the first person he met, that person happened to be a beautiful young maiden named Amethyst. The maiden cried out for the goddess Diana to save her and was turned into a brilliant crystal. When he saw what he had done, Bacchus was full of remorse. He poured wine over the stone maiden, turning it a lovely violet. Amethyst is one of the birthstones for February.

Description: This yellow colored gem usually begins as amethyst and is heat treated at 500 - 600 degrees centigrade to create the brilliant yellow color as most natural citrine is a brownish yellow color. Citrine forms in hydrothermal lodes and pegmatites as well as in acidic igneous rock and its color is also due to iron oxides.

Name Derivation: From the French word ‘citron,’ meaning ‘lemon,’ in allusion to its color. Some common misnomers are ‘Topaz quartz,’ ‘Spanish topaz,’ ‘Madeira topaz’ or ‘Saxon topaz’.

Lore: Citrine was believed to alleviate jaundice and disorders of the liver or kidneys and is an alternate birthstone for November.

Description: Rose quartz is found in Madagascar, India, Germany and in the USA, but the majority of it comes from Brazil. This rosy pink crystal gets its color from iron or titanium impurities in the quartz crystals. It forms mostly in pegmatites, but recently well formed crystals have been found in Brazil.

Lore: Rose quartz is believed to reduce negative energy and tension and to promote love and compassion and is one of the birthstones for January.

SMOKY QUARTZ or Cairngorm and Morion
Description: Brown quartz is better known as smoky quartz, most of which comes from Brazil while a very dark form of smoky quartz known as Morion is found in India.

Name Derivation: The name Cairngorm comes from Scotland and it is a traditional stone for Scottish jewelry with the original source the Cairngorm Mountains hence the name. Morion quartz gets its name from the old roman word mormorion Pliny the Elder tells us, "Mormorion is a transparent stone from India, of a deep black color, and known also as promnion."

About the Author

Beverly Fernandes has been beading since 1969. Since moving to Eugene in 1998 Bev has worked primarily with beads, her first loves have always been her husband John and beadwork. Bev works primarily with Japanese Cylinder Beads known as Delicas. They come in over 600 colors and textures, so Bev can practically paint with beads. Most pieces are worked in peyote or gourd stitch, a form of bead weaving that has been found in Egyptian tombs and has since been practiced by nearly every culture that has worked with beads. Beverly has a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology. She studies archaeology and bead history.
All article text and photos © Harlequin Beads & Jewelry unless otherwise noted.
Text and photos may not be used without permession from Harlequin Beads & Jewelry.

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