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Sunday, July 20, 2008

It’s good to be “Included”…



…if you’re quartz, that is!

The “hottest” trend among jewelry designers today is the use of these lesser known gemstones of the quartz family. If we were looking at almost any other gem an inclusion of anything would devalue the gem. This however is not the case with certain quartz varieties. Due to the soft, porous nature of this gem other minerals are able to grow into it.

QUARTZ From the Slavic word for “hard”

Color: Clear, Pink, Purple, Blue, Green, Golden, Brown
Moh’s Scale: 7 (hearty, good for everyday wear)
Crystal System: Trigonal, Hexagonal Prisms
Chemical Composition: Silicon Dioxide

Macrocrystalline Quartz – crystals identifiable with the naked eye. This group is represented by most of the stones gemologists classify as varieties of quartz: Amethyst, Rose-de-France or “Pink” Amethyst, Citrine, Rock Crystal, Prasiolite or “Green Amethyst, Smoky Quartz (and the various browns – whisky, beer, champagne and cognac), Rose Quartz, Aventurine, Tiger’s-Eye, etc.

Quartz is the most common gem on earth…literally found in almost every corner of the world. Important deposits are found in Bolivia, Brazil, the Swiss Alps, Madagascar, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Uruguay and the United States.

Rock Crystal Quartz is a transparent variety valued for their clarity while some are valued chiefly for their inclusion. Rock Crystal it is the perfect showcase for Mother Nature’s surprises, due to the amazing clarity of a gem quality stone.



Rutilated Quartz - the most popular of the “stuff in quartz” category...in this variety, golden needles of rutile are arrayed in bundles, sprays and various patterns inside the clear quartz. Sometimes called “Angel Hair”, each pattern is different, and some are breathtakingly beautiful.
















Tourmalinated Quartz - this variety shows black or dark green tourmaline crystals in a thicker, rod-type inclusion. This can be in heavy patterns and sprays or random spikes. One of the favorites of faceters is to facet a round with a single rod of tourmaline running from the culet to the table – the optical illusion is quite spectacular.


“Stuff in Quartz” - has become a collecting category - today some of the more popular varieties include (pun intended)...Pyrite (gold), manganese oxide, form crystal "dendrites" (small branch-like), Chlorite (mossy, green), black Hematite (often seen at the “hub” of a wagon wheel spray of rutile needles), red Hematite platelets or Lepidocrosite (can give an overall pink or red color), green Edenite, golden Goethite needles, Epidote (thick green crystals), Actinolite...


...and my current favorite – Medusa Quartz, a clear crystal quartz with small Gillilite inclusions...named for their resemblance to the Medusa Jellyfish!





Asterism - the star effect that appears as rays of a star on the domed surface of a cabochon gem. This occurs when a strong, single light source reflects off layers of thread-like inclusions that inhabit these unique gems.

Chatoyant Quartz – if those threads align themselves in a single direction, much like the strands in a spool of thread, the reflection will appear as a single ray of light called a Cat’s-Eye. Other examples of chatoyancy in quartz are the Hawk’s-Eye, Ox-Eye and Tiger’s-Eye varieties. These are finely fibrous, opaque aggregate that are formed when quartz replaces the mineral crocidolite (a type of asbestos).

Throughout history quartz has been a jeweler’s chameleon, standing in for more expensive gemstones ranging from diamond to jade. Now, finally, quartz is coming into its own, allowing the average consumer the “luxury” of beautiful jewelry...with less common varieties beginning to show their appeal. Designers are using included quartz today for “high-end” pieces due to it’s “one-of-a-kind” nature.


I want to say a special thank you to Barbara Smigel for the use of the photos from her website: http://www.bwsmigel.info/
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