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Facts About Quartz—Properties, Types, & Uses

Updated on May 22, 2017
Quartz Crystal
Quartz Crystal | Source

Quartz is a mineral found in many rocks. It is one of the most common minerals found on earth.

Quartz was known since pre-historic times and appreciated for its beauty. "Krsitallos" was the ancient name recorded for quartz by Theophrastus in about 300-325 BCE.

This mineral is a crystalline form of silica. It can be found as a major component of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It belongs to a group of minerals called silicates. Quartz can also be found in the form of small grains as sand in the mountains, beaches, rivers and deserts.

Quartz crystals dissolve in water at high temperatures and pressure. When this water seeps into rocks through cracks and fissures, it forms thin white seams and large veins of quartz that may extend to distances of over many kilometers.

Quartz Crystal Structure - Red color balls represent oxygen atoms and the white color balls represent silicon
Quartz Crystal Structure - Red color balls represent oxygen atoms and the white color balls represent silicon | Source

Structure and Forms of Quartz

Structure of Quartz

Quartz is made of continuous chains of silicon and oxygen atoms arranged in the framework of tetrahedra.

Each silicon atom is surrounded by and connected to four oxygen atoms, and each oxygen atom is connected to two silicon atoms.

Crystal Structure of Quartz

Quartz crystals are hexagonal in shape and belong to the trigonal crystal system. The ideal trigonal crystal system is a six-sided prism that terminates with six-sided pyramids at each end. They frequently occur in twin form where two crystals are joined at the base at 90 degrees.

The quartz crystals occur in nature as huge prismatic crystals, stubby crystals or a pointed collection of prismatic and stubby crystals.

Forms of Quartz

Quartz occurs in two primary forms in nature the macrocrystalline and the microcrystalline also known as the cryptocrystalline form.

Macrocrystal quartz is made of crystals that are visible. The rose quartz and the smoky quartz are examples of the macrocrystal quartz form.

Microcrystalline Quartz is made of tightly packed tiny crystals and crystallites that are visible only under a microscope. Agate, Jasper, Onyx are examples of the microcrystalline quartz form.

The piezoelectric effect was discovered in 1880 by two French physicists, brothers Pierre and Paul-Jacques Curie in quartz crystals of Tourmaline and Rochelle salt.

Properties of Quartz

Pure quartz is colorless and transparent; it is also known as rock crystal or clear quartz. It can withstand chemical and mechanical weathering and does not break down easily.

Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on earth measuring 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.

Pure quartz is transparent and colorless, but impure quartz occurs in many colors such as white, gray, purple, yellow, brown, black, pink, green and red.

Piezoelectric Nature

Quartz is a piezoelectric material. The word piezoelectric refers to the ability of the quartz crystal to convert mechanical stress into electricity and vice versa.

When a mechanical stress is applied to a quartz crystal, the crystal converts the mechanical stress into electricity, and when electricity is passed through a quartz crystal, it converts the electricity into a mechanical force that results in the crystal vibrating at a particular frequency.

Modern day watches use the quartz crystal to keep accurate time. The quartz crystals have the ability to maintain an accurate frequency standard that helps to regulate the movement of quartz watches.

Piezoelectricity is used in ultrasound equipment, microphones, record players, in spark lighters and inkjet printers.

What is the Mohs scale of hardness?

Mohs hardness is a scale that is used to measure the resistance of a smooth surface to scratching or abrasion by a substance of known or defined hardness. This scale was devised by a German Mineralogist, Friedrich Mohs.

The Mohs scale ranges from 1 – 10 in which 1 represents a material very easily scratched and 10 represents the hardest material highly resistant to scratching or abrasion.

Quartz measures 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness and diamond, the hardest material, measures 10.

Types of Quartz Based on Color

Pure quartz is also called rock crystal. Pure rock crystal has a very small percentage of impurities. It is colorless, transparent or translucent.

Colored quartz crystals are valued for their color and beauty and are used as gemstones. Quartz colors are the result of traces of other minerals present in quartz crystals.

The following is a list of the different types of quartz by color.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Rose QuartzAmethyst
Rose Quartz
Rose Quartz | Source
Amethyst
Amethyst | Source
Type
Color
Transparency
Rock Crystal
Colorless
Clear
Amethyst
Purple
Transparent to Translucent
Rose Quartz
Pink
Transparent
Carnelian
Reddish Orange
Transparent to Nearly Opaque
Aventurine
Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Gray
Opaque
Agate
White, Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Pink, Purple, Gray, Black, Multicolored
Translucent
Onyx
Black base with White Upper Layer
Opaque
Jasper
Red, Brown, Yellow
Opaque
Milky Quartz
White
Translucent to Opaque
Smoky Quartz
Light Grayish Brown to Deep Black
Transparent to Translucent
Tiger's Eye
Yellow, Brown, Multicolored
Opaque
Citrine
Yellow, Yellow-Brown, Orange, Dark Orange-Brown, Reddish-Brown
Transparent to Translucent
Prasiolite
Pale Gray Green to Deep Grass Green
Translucent
Types of Quartz based on Color
Tiger's Eye
Tiger's Eye | Source
Agate
Agate | Source

Uses of Quartz

Glass Making

Deposits of sand that have almost 100 % pure silica have been found in some locations. The sand from these deposits is used in glassmaking industry to produce container glass, flat plate glass, specialty glass, and fiberglass.

Abrasive Agent

Quartz is a hard mineral and measures seven on the Moh’s scale and is an excellent abrasive substance. Quartz sand is used for sand blasting, as scouring cleansers for grinding and grit for sanding and sawing.

Flux for Smelting Metals

Quartz is mechanically and chemically strong, durable and has a melting temperature that is higher than most metals. These properties make quartz an ideal mineral to make refractory bricks and as a flux in the smelting of metals.

Hydraulic Fracturing

Pure quartz is also known as the frac sand that is used in the petroleum industries for the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that facilitates the flow of petroleum fluids such as oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas from the rocks into the bore well.

Quartz sand with maximum purity is forced down oil and gas wells under high pressure. The high pressure fractures the rocks, and the sand slurry flows into the fracture. The quartz sand that is hard and durable keeps the fractures open without getting crushed and facilitates the flow of oil and natural gas into the bore well.

Quartz Crystals

The piezoelectric nature of quartz crystals has been utilized in manufacturing industries to make watches and equipment such as radios, televisions, electronic games, computers, cell phones, electronic meters and GPS equipment.

Nowadays quartz crystals are grown in laboratories based on the product for which it is being used. They can be grown in different shapes, sizes, and colors specifically needed for the manufacturing process.

As a Gemstone

Quartz is hard and durable and occurs in nature in a variety of colors. The colorful quartz crystals are used as gemstones to make jewelry.

To Summarize

Quartz is a mineral found in many rocks. It is one of the most common minerals found on earth. Quartz is made of continuous chains of silicon and oxygen atoms arranged in the framework of tetrahedra.

Quartz is one among the hardest minerals on earth measuring 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. This quality of quartz has made it an integral part of manufacturing industries. Colored quartz crystals are used as gemstones and some of the crystals are said to have healing properties.

References

http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/pubs/A5/vanwagner.html#c

http://geology.com/minerals/quartz.shtml

http://www.livescience.com/32509-why-is-quartz-used-in-watches.html

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/piezoelectricity.html

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    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 months ago from Dubai

      Audrey thank you, quartz is beautiful!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 months ago from Dubai

      Jackie thank you for your visit and comment.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 months ago from California

      Such a beautiful hub--I love quartz--I have always been drawn to it--

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Had no idea about most of this. Very well done. Love to learn, especially of something so beautiful.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 months ago from Dubai

      ChitrangadaSharan thank you for your appreciation ad comment.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 5 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent, well researched and very informative article about Quartz!

      There is so much to learn here. I do have Amethyst, Onyx, Tiger's eye as gemstone/ jewellery at home. But I didn't know so much about Quartz , it's uses and other varieties.

      As always you have put in lot of effort in gathering the information and very useful for readers.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 6 months ago from Dubai

      rajan jolly thank you for your visit and comment.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 6 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Quartz is not only very useful and beautiful as well. Very informative article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 6 months ago from Dubai

      srsddn thank you and am glad you got to know more about quartz through this hub.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 6 months ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Nithya, something totally new. There is so much to learn and thanks for sharing these details about one of the hardest materials on the earth.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 6 months ago from Dubai

      always exploring thank you and am happy you found this interesting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow, you put a lot of research into this article. I knew very little about quartz. Interesting read....

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Informative and interesting. I love gemstones. One of my favorites is rose quartz which sits on my desk.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      The rose quartz light must be amazing! Thank you for the visit and comment.

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 7 months ago from United Kingdom

      Excellent article and information, thank you. I'm wondering about your opinion of Orgonite? It's supposedly used for healing and protection against EMF. It's basically crystals and metals encased in a fibreglass resin which shrinks in order to squeeze the crystals and induce piezoelectricity.

      According to research, the non-organic materials (fibreglass) absorb life-force energy and deflect it in all directions whereas the organic materials (metals) deflect back in the direction from which it came (back towards to the fibreglass) and the crystals transmute the energy into a healthy charge.

      In other words, it allegedly absorbs and cleanses etheric life-force energy. I'm just wondering what you make of this? It's based on the research of Wilhelm Reich which is quite extensive. Do you think inducing piezoelectricity in such a way would actually increase the healing capacity of crystals, or do you think it would do the opposite?

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 months ago from England

      I have a beautiful rose quartz light that I have had for over 20 years, it just packed up so its now on my window ledge catching the light! what a great hub! so interesting!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      Demas W Jasper The Arkansas quartz belt is a major producer of gemstones and decorative rock crystal and it is the source of "lascas" that is the feed material used to make synthetic quartz. Rock crystals are also got from quartz veins in sandstone and shales of the Ouachita mountains where the quartz belt is about 240 km long and 24 km wide. Deposits of quartz can also be found in California and New York.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      billybuc thank you and am happy you find something new to learn.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      FlourishAnyway thank you; I love all things about nature and rocks are one of the many things that I admire.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      AliciaC thank you for your visit, quartz gemstones are so beautiful.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      Venkatachari M glad you found this article interesting and informative, thank you for the visit.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 7 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting information about Quartz. I am new to this subject and learned some interesting facts here. Thanks for sharing it.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Quartz can be beautiful. I love your photos. Thank you for sharing so many facts about the mineral.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 months ago from Houston, Texas

      It was very interesting learning more about quartz. I have some that I purchased decorating my garden amidst other rocks I have collected. Nice to know how hard it is. It will stand up to all kinds of weather.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

      So well researched. I love amethysts and tiger's eye. What prompts your interests in rocks?

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 7 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I wonder, are there "belts" of quartz in the USA, or is it widespread with no particular locus?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I like these articles of yours. I always learn something new. Thank you!