The Unsung Beauty of Quartz

Vein Quartz in Salt Spring Forest

Vein Quartz in Salt Spring Forest

A Striking Vein:

I was out for a little geological adventure the other day, as a fellow does.

I came across this beautiful quartz vein.

It struck right across a bright clearing, in an otherwise dark and mossy north-facing part of the forest.

What really took me was just how pure white it was. Yes, if one word were to describe vein-quartz like this it would be purity.

There aren’t many things in nature like it. Snow I suppose, but it’s not as solid and substantial. Naturally the photo doesn’t do it justice.

I have some similar vein-quartz from one of my claims that has been waiting patiently in a bucket. Now is it’s time!

Vein Quartz, Milky Quartz, SiO₂…Why so white?

Quartz is the name of the mineral. Amethyst, the jaspers, rose quartz and geodes: they’re made from the same stuff, Silicon and Oxygen.

Silicon, as in for checking facebook.

Oxygen, as in for breathing. Isn’t that just amazing if you think about?

The purest, most orderly quartz is water-clear and usually found in crystal form. Vein-quartz isn’t often so clear and usually appears milky because light is reflecting off microscopic fluid/gas bubbles that were exsolved and trapped as the vein solidified. I suddenly realize most “normal” people are not as interested in the formation of all the types of quartz. I’ll leave there.

Quartz under various names has been used since antiquity to make tools, beads, carvings, and jewellery.

Here is one of my favourite ancient examples–a pre-Columbian quartz bead necklace at the Museo Larco in Lima: Museo Larco Necklace

Because of it’s great hardness, quartz can be brought to a beautiful polish; making it useful in jewellery, as above.

It did more than shine in ancient times though. Quartz was used by many cultures for drilling other very hard materials: stone, bone, etc.

Yet quartz is abundant compared to, say, sapphire or diamond so it’s usually looked down upon as a sort of child among the grown-up gems.

That’s a real shame because it really is a wonderful, beautiful substance. I’m working on sharing the true beauty of the unsung lowly quartz. But how to do so best? That is the question.

Anyway, I need to revisit this whole topic another time as quartz has some other interesting subtleties and secrets I’d like to share!

2 Comments

  1. I’m totally with you there, Quartz shouldn’t be looked down upon. Although Amethyst isn’t as much, because the ladies love its colors. Plus, when you find a quartz vein, chances are there’s a pegmatite next to it, which means other kinds of crystals!

    1. Yes, I’m sure if I found amethyst I would like it very much as well. Not much in the way of pegmatites locally unfortunately.

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