Mineral Crystals - Including Gold and Pyrite aka Fool's Gold

A quick note. When you are done here, there is the minerals.usgs.gov table-of-contents page for crystals; hover over each of the pics there to see the destination URL at the bottom of the page. And there is the USGS search query results for gold page; interesting stuff there as well.

Crystals

Quartz Crystal

Quartz
Quartz | Source

Rock hounding is fun! And it can provide hours of enjoyment. It is a nice feeling to discover a thing of beauty in a sea of red herrings.

Your basic tools for your crystal search adventures are a small rock hammer (pointy on one side, flat on the other), gloves, wrapping paper for your newfound gems, and safety glasses (even if you already wear glasses). The proverbial canteen or bottle of water and a first aid kit aren’t a bad idea either; not to mention a GPS cell phone; and of course, a backpack or equivalent to carry everything.

Rock hounding on Federal and State lands is usually not a problem; in fact, they are generally downright benign about it. Usually, a backpack-full is no problem. Many times, even a car trunk-full is no problem. If, however, you show up with an empty dump truck; then it’s a problem.

It is always best to contact the local rock hound group to find out what the rules are. Besides, since when is networking not a good idea? At least find their website to see what they have to say.

As an example, suppose the area you want to peruse happens to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It turns out they apparently are not the same happy campers as the other agencies. Anything over 2-3 crystals or other pieces and the words “permit” and “required” suddenly enters their vocabulary.

Your local rock hound group always knows who manages the land and what the rules are. Plus, they'll have all sorts of other useful information.

Benitoite Crystal

Benitoite
Benitoite | Source

Crystal Benitoite

The chemical name for benitoite is barium titanium silicate in crystal form. Benitoite seems to only be found where the minerals serpentine and/or natrolite happen to be, and then only rarely. Light-blue in color. Gemstone quality is extremely rare. Crystals cost a lot less, but the price can still get up there. Interestingly, it is California's official state gem.

Tourmaline Crystal

Tourmaline
Tourmaline | Source

Crystal Tourmaline

Tourmaline is probably the favorite crystal for both mineral and gemstone collectors. This has to do with:

A. Tourmaline crystals are bright and beautiful.

B. Tourmaline crystals come in just about every color there is.

C. Tourmaline crystals don’t cost a fortune.

Amethyst Crystal

Amethyst
Amethyst | Source

Crystal Amethyst

Amethyst is a light or dark purple variety of the mineral quartz. As with most quartz crystals it is usually translucent. The chemical formula is SiO2. The purple color comes from the presence of manganese. However, it has been claimed ferric thiocyanate and sulfur have also been detected in the mineral. Amethyst crystal will eventually lose its color over time when exposed to sunlight. Amethyst crystal exposed to heat will turn yellow.

Calcite Crystal

Calcite
Calcite | Source

Crystal Calcite

Calcite crystals are apparently the crystal nobody loves. Calcite is the mineral form of calcium carbonate. This mineral is the bane of water treatment plants. Where there is water, calcite crystals are soon to follow. These crystals and other forms of calcium carbonate accumulate and clog up everything in sight. It is an going project by industry and government to find something which will dissolve the calcium carbonate without the collateral damage of poisoning the water.

Carbon Crystal ( Diamond )

Diamond formed around an iron sulfide crystal.
Diamond formed around an iron sulfide crystal. | Source

Crystal Carbon - Diamond

Diamonds are diamonds. What more can be said?

Actually, a lot can be said. Diamonds come in many colors and tints; not all of them good. Even more important, there are many grades of quality. It is interesting how the grade changes, depending on whether you are the buyer or the seller. If you intend to buy or sell a diamond, it would behoove you to extensively research the subject first.

Gold and Pyrite / Fool's Gold

Pyrite Crystals - Fool's Gold

Iron Pyrite Crystals. Iron sulfide crystals known as fools gold.
Iron Pyrite Crystals. Iron sulfide crystals known as fools gold. | Source
Iron Pyrite Crystals. Iron sulfide crystals known as fools gold.
Iron Pyrite Crystals. Iron sulfide crystals known as fools gold. | Source

Crystal Iron Pyrite

Iron Pyrite has the chemical composition of FeS2.

Here is how to tell the difference between gold and pyrite, aka fool’s gold:

Both are yellow, but of different tones. Gold is golden to silvery yellow. Pyrite is pale to medium brassy yellow.

Gold shaped as crystals are rare. Pyrite shaped as crystals are common.

Physical tests are usually what decides the day.

Gold is soft; pyrite is not. Scratch the mineral with a knife blade. Gold is softer than pyrite and will be scratched or cut. Pyrite cannot be scratched. Beware, a mineral called chalcopyrite which looks like pyrite and can be scratched. However, its brassy, yellowish color will give it away.

Gold does not smell; pyrite does. Forcefully rub the specimen with a hard object. Gold has no odor. Pyrite smells like sulfur or rotten eggs.

Gold is malleable; pyrite is not. Strike the specimen with a steel hammer. Gold will flatten or change shape and is not known to break. Pyrite will give off sparks and generally act like any other hard rock hit with a hammer.

More Crystals

Barite on Fluorite

Barite crystals on fluorite crystals.
Barite crystals on fluorite crystals. | Source

Crystals Barite and Fluorite

The chemical name for barite is barium sulfate.

The chemical name for fluorite is calcium fluoride.

Both are high-demand industrial minerals.

Quartz Crystal

Beta quartz crystal.
Beta quartz crystal. | Source

Crystal Quartz

The mineral quartz is composed of oxygen and silica. Quartz crystals can form when water percolates through fragmented rock. Pure quartz is a high-demand mineral for multiple industries.

Fluorite Crystals

Fluorite Crystals. Fluorine is found in the form of calcium fluoride, CaF2, called fluorite, which forms crystals.
Fluorite Crystals. Fluorine is found in the form of calcium fluoride, CaF2, called fluorite, which forms crystals.

Crystal Carbon ~ Yellow Diamond

Crystal Carbon ~ Yellow Diamond
Crystal Carbon ~ Yellow Diamond

12.76 Carat Pink Diamond

This photo, released by mining giant Rio Tinto shows a 12.76 carat pink diamond, largest ever found in Australia.
This photo, released by mining giant Rio Tinto shows a 12.76 carat pink diamond, largest ever found in Australia.
Perspective shot.
Perspective shot.

Clinopyroxene Crystal

Clinopyroxene crystal recovered from a volcanic rock sample.
Clinopyroxene crystal recovered from a volcanic rock sample. | Source

Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art

Bonus Section - Another Aspect of Rock Hounding

Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art, e.g., jasper, llanite, bauxite, obsidian, marble, petrified wood. And info and pictures. Maybe will be of interest; maybe not.

Orbicular Rain Forest Jasper - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L8 - Not something you find every day... Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Rainforest Jasper - Australia. True Lapidary Art.
L8 - Not something you find every day... Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Rainforest Jasper - Australia. True Lapidary Art. | Source

Jasper

L7 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Jasper
L7 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Jasper | Source

Introduction to the Hobby of Lapidary Orbicular Rock Art

One definition of lapidary art is the orbicular transformation of mundane, and not so mundane, rocks into beautiful spheres. The conversion from one to the other is a long and complicated process. It is both a science and an art.

First one has to determine which nondescript rocks are capable of being transformed into beautiful spheres. Training and experience are required to learn this skill. It is also an art.

Once you have selected your specimen, out come the tools. Starting with a rock-saw, and then using other tools; you trim your specimen to as round a shape as is practical.

Next, you toss/heave (gently place) the thing into a sphere-making-machine aka tumbler aka polishing machine. You may or may not throw in a bunch of grit along with it; it all depends.

Eventually, given several factors, a beautiful (and sometimes valuable) sphere of beauty may be the result.

Lapidary orbicular art is a hobby enjoyed by many. It’s even been known to turn into an obsession; working with things of beauty can do that to you…

Jasper - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L1 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Jasper
L1 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Jasper | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Jasper

Jasper is a product of previous volcanic eruptions. Formations occur when silica rich rhyolitic ash flow is subjected to rapid cooling. Quartz and feldspar crystallize in spherulites or needle like crystals.

Llanite - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L2 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Llanite - Texas
L2 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Llanite - Texas | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Llanite

Llanite is a brown granite containing crystals of blue quartz, feldspar, biotite, apatite, and zircon.

Obsidian - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L3 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Mahogany Obsidian
L3 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Mahogany Obsidian | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Obsidian

Obsidian is another by-product of volcanic eruptions. There are many different varieties.

Bauxite / Boksit - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L4 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Bauxite
L4 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Bauxite | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Bauxite / Boksit

Bauxite (boksit) is as mundane as mundane gets. It is a common mineral mined to produce aluminum.

Petrified Wood - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L5 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Teredo bored petrified wood - North Dakota
L5 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Teredo bored petrified wood - North Dakota | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Petrified Wood

Petrified wood are fossils. When a fallen tree is buried in moist earth, a mineral transfer can sometimes occur. Given sufficient rain, the earth’s minerals can dissolve into the tree. If in time the minerals dry out and the original tree material disappears, the tree literally becomes a rock. If the mineral saturation is extensive, the rock looks like the original tree and is then called petrified wood.

Marble - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L6 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Zebra Marble - Utah
L6 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Zebra Marble - Utah | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Marble

Marble is a type of metamorphic rock. Metamorphic rocks are rocks changed from their original igneous, sedimentary, or earlier metamorphic form. Metamorphic marble (so to speak) is Metamorphic rock consisting of coarse/fine grained re-crystallized calcite (aka limestone) or dolomite. Marble comes in a variety of colors; including white, gray, red, pink, and black.

Septaria - Lapidary Art Image / Picture

L9 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Septaria - North Dakota
L9 - Orbicular Lapidary Rock Art - Septaria - North Dakota | Source

Lapidary Rock Arts - Orbicular Septaria

"Septaria" is a broad term describing the mineral formation wherein one mineral fills and embeds the pores of another mineral.

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4 comments

glowingrocks profile image

glowingrocks 5 years ago from New York

Nice hub and great photos.


CECE1233 4 years ago

i wish i had some w


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 18 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Lovely photos of precious crystals and minerals to collect. Great hub with useful information! Voted up!


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

We were just in the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and wow, we have not seen so many of the stones brought there from so many countries. it was fascinating. Am happy to know some of the names from your hub.

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