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Home: Gemstone Beads Index: Quartz Beads

About Quartz

quartz beads

This incredibly abundant gemstone accounts for a whopping 12% of the Earth's crust. Quartz is a family of minerals with the same chemical composition (silicon dioxide) and similar physical properties. Some say the origin of the word quartz is the Saxon word querkluftertz, meaning "a cross vein ore," which later was condensed to querertz. However, it also might have been named after the Slavic word kwardy, or "hard," or possibly the Greek word for ice, as the Greeks believed quartz crystal was fossilized ice (scientists believed this as late as the 16th century). Quartz's high thermoconductivity, which makes it feel cool to the touch, may have added to this belief. The two varieties of quartz are macrocrystalline (crystals recognizable with the naked eye) and microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline (crystals too small to see without high magnification). The first category includes citrine, amethyst, aventurine, hawks-eye, tigereye and all quartzes listed below (flake, rutilated, rose, smoky, snow, etc.). The second, cryptocrystalline, is more commonly known as chalcedony. Lab-grown quartz has the same chemical, physical, and optical characteristics as its natural counterpart. While commonly imitated by glass (see "quartz" entries), true quartz can be distinguished from glass or lead crystal by its birefringence (double refraction) and the minute air bubbles glass often contains. Quartz is also harder than glass.

The use of quartz dates back thousands of years. Roman ladies carried quartz crystal balls to cool their hands in warm weather, and Roman soldiers used it to capture sunlight for cauterizing wounds. Quartz passed for diamonds for many centuries, and some of the superstitions surrounding diamonds actually had their beginnings in quartz. Since the Middle Ages, quartz crystal balls have been used to predict the future. Crafted quartz items uncovered in the French and Austrian Alps indicate the mineral was used there during the 1800s. The practice of burying crystal with the dead has been popular with many cultures over time and still is with some Native Americans. These cultures believe the spirit of the dead lives on in the crystal. Quartz is said to be the universal healing stone, able to clarify what needs to be healed or balanced and assist in the transformation. The crystals are reputed to promote hope, happiness and optimism while awakening us to the beauty of nature. Found around the world, important quartz deposits are in Brazil, Madagascar, Namibia, Ontario (Canada) and the U.S.A. The French and Swiss Alps are also known for their magnificent large crystals.

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Types of Quartz Beads

  Aqua aura quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Aqua Aura Quartz

aka Blue Aura
This translucent blue gemstone is created from natural rock crystal quartz that has been artificially coated with an ultra-thin metallic (gold, aluminum or copper) layer to produce an iridescent sheen. Though we can't confirm it, we've read that the stone is created by placing the natural quartz in a pressurized chamber at high temperature, where it is exposed to vaporized gold. The metal bonding is supposed to be permanent. Aqua aura quartz is said to help develop creativity, sensitivity and intuition, as well as assist in healing, releasing stored stress and inducing peace.
  Blood quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Blood Quartz

It must not be type O, because this eerie natural stone isn't for everyone. Dark streaks winding throughout the otherwise clear quartz leave some saying "ah" and others saying "ew!" Blood quartz gets its red and auburn hues from hematite inclusions; the hematite grows on the surface of the quartz crystal, and then as the quartz continues to grow, the hematite becomes contained inside.
  Blue quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Blue Quartz

Naturally opaque to translucent, blue quartz is relatively rare and may have fractures of reddish brown created by iron oxide. A process known as Rayleigh scattering, where microscopic minerals scatter reflected light, makes both the sky and this quartz variety appear blue. Our natural blue quartz comes in subdued hues; however, there is a variety of blue quartz known as dumortierite that is more vibrant and is sometimes used to imitate lapis lazuli. Also, we sometimes carry blue quartz that has been enhanced with dye to create more vivid blues. Known as a cooling stone due to its color, blue quartz is believed to help with detoxification of the endocrine and circulatory systems. It is also associated with the throat chakra.
  Druzy quartz beads from Rings & Things

Druzy Quartz

aka Druse, Drusies, Drusy Agate, Drusy Chalcedony, Drusy Quartz, Druzies, Druzy Agate, Druzy Chalcedony
Druzy, or druse, is a layer of fine crystals that forms on the surface of rock fractures over millions of years. Drusy is most commonly found in quartz, especially within chert and agate. It is often discovered during mining operations for other semiprecious gems, and is frequently found on the interior surfaces of geodes. While usually composed of clear crystal, druzy can be made of amethyst, citrine, or other varieties of quartz. Commonly clear to greyish white in hue, druzy can come in colors, and may be enhanced to change its color. While all druzy offers spectacular sparkle, the individual crystals that comprise it come in various sizes. Tiny druse can look velvety, while medium-sized drusy often displays a sugary appearance. Larger, distinctly formed crystals can also be present, as can a microscopic film of titanium, platinum, gold, or silver.

A common way to color druzy quartz is to add a fine layer of metal via a process called vacuum coating (also known as vacuum plating, vapor coating, or vapor deposition). In this process, the crystal is placed in a vacuum chamber where vaporized metal then mixes with oxygen and bonds to the surface of the crystal at a molecular level. Titanium vacuum coating creates intense hues of blue, green, and purple, and adds iridescence (schiller). Gold vacuum coating creates golden-colored druzy, platinum creates white or silver druzy, and silicone oxide creates vibrant pink and green coatings.

The combination of stunning visual appeal and economical price makes druzy quartz a good candidate for jewelry focals. Drusy cabochons placed in settings are a common way to show off these crystals. Just keep in mind that druse is delicate, and is best suited for applications like pendants and pins that will not receive a lot of wear. To clean drusy, use warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Some people recommend rinsing with distilled water for a cleaner rinse. Keep druzy away from household chemicals and prolonged exposure to heat. Drusy quartz rates 7 on Moh's Scale of Hardness; to avoid scratching your other jewelry, gently wrap drusy quartz in fabric when storing it.

  Flake quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Flake Quartz

aka Cracked Quartz, Explosion Quartz
This is a clear quartz with thin, shiny flakes suspended throughout. The "explosion" inside is created through heat treatment applied to natural quartz. Glass beads with this effect also can be found on the market.
  Prase, aka green quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Green Quartz

See prase entry.
  Green tourmalated quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Green Tourmalated Quartz

aka Green Hair Garnet, Green Hair Quartz, Green Tourmalinated Quartz, Prehnite
Green tourmalated quartz is a quartz in which green-to-black needles of tourmaline are embedded. It is often confused with prehnite, and when we first began carrying prehnite, our vendors identified the inclusions as tourmaline (they are in fact black amphabole). Now that we are aware of the stone's real nature, we have renamed all -079 stones as prehnite.
  Kiwi quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Kiwi Quartz

aka Kiwi Stone
This quartz is mottled with green, black and white. While translucent, kiwi quartz is more opaque than most quartzes.
  Lemon quartz beads from Rings & Things

Lemon Quartz

aka Lemon Citrine, Prasiolite
Lemon quartz is a yellow form of quartz known for being a paler, truer yellow than citrine. The common consensus is that most lemon quartz on the market is mined in Brazil, and enhanced by heat treatment or irradiation. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as prasiolite (a type of green quartz). Metaphysically, lemon quartz is said to help break negative thought patterns and reduce anxiety.
  Multicolor rutilated quartz beads from Rings & Things

Multicolor Rutilated Quartz

This is rutilated quartz in various colors.
  Phantom quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Phantom Quartz

aka Ghost Crystals, Shadow Crystals, Spectre Crystals
Phantom quartz can be a variety of different colors, as this type of quartz includes other gemstones. What this means is that during the growth of a quartz crystal other minerals or fluids can attach to the faces of the crystal, which then continues to grow, engulfing the inclusion(s) inside itself. The inclusion becomes a ghostly outline inside the quartz. The growth becomes known as phantom quartz. It is said that phantom quartz can help one to understand the different stages of life. Different varieties of phantom quartz are useful for different things. They range from tourmaline quartz's protection to the healing powers of hematite.
  Picture not available

Red Quartz

The presence of hematite gives this quartz its sanguine shade. Red quartz is quite uncommon and is popular in Russia.
  Rock crystal quartz beads from Rings & Things

Rock Crystal Quartz

aka Clear Quartz, Rock Crystal, Baffa Diamond, Bohemian Diamond, Brighton Diamond, Bristol Diamond, Buxton Diamond, Cornish Diamond, Dauphin Diamond, German Diamond, Horatio Diamond, Hot Springs Diamond, Mutzschen Diamond, Occidental Diamond, Paphros Diamond, Pecos Diamond, Quasima Diamond, Quebec Diamond, Rhine Diamond, Schaumberg Diamond, Stolberg Diamond, Tasmanian Diamond, Trenton Diamond, Vallum Diamond, Washita Diamond, Zabeltitzen Diamond
The most common quartz, this colorless, transparent gemstone has a quiet beauty. We're told our stock is natural, but occasionally we suspect we've been sold lab-grown quartz, which is chemically identical to the type found in nature. Rock crystal quartz is considered by many to be the best all-purpose crystal. It is reputed to cleanse the mind and body, strengthen alignment with higher self, enhance properties of other gemstones, amplify energies and give strength. It is also said to lessen negativity and remove toxins.
  Rose quartz beads from Rings & Things

Rose Quartz

aka Ancona Ruby, Mont Blanc Ruby
This blushing gemstone is one of the most desirable varieties of quartz. The unique pink-to-rose-red color is caused by iron and titanium impurities in the natural stone. However, ours (and most on the market) has been dyed to maintain a uniform color. Both naturally-colored rose quartz and the dyed forms are photosensitive and will fade in sunlight. Beads of rose quartz have been found in Mesopotamia that date back to 7000 B.C. It is said that the Assyrians and the Romans were the first to use it. In ancient Rome, rose quartz was popular for making seals, which were used in clay or various dyes to show ownership or identify authors. Often called the "love stone," rose quartz is said to open the heart chakra to all forms of love: self love, family love, platonic love and romantic love. Emotionally, the gemstone is believed to bring gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, kindness and tolerance, to raise self-esteem and to remove fears, resentments and anger. Some also say it can heal and release childhood traumas, neglect and lack of love, in part by enhancing inner awareness. It is attributed the power to help with family reconciliations and ease overwhelming or unreasonable guilt. Physically, the gemstone is used to benefit the heart, circulatory system, fertility, headaches, kidney disease, migraines, sexual dysfunction, sinus problems, throat problems, depression, addictions and ear aches. Rose quartz is found in Madagascar, Brazil, India, Germany and several parts of the U.S.A.
  Ruby quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Ruby Quartz

The ruby-red dots suspended inside this quartz are the likely source of its name. Ruby quartz has a truly one-of-a-kind appearance, with veins and clouds of beige, brown, black and white. Thin, clear flecks inside each bead give it a subtle sparkle. It is a natural gemstone, and we are told the color is natural as well. For a quartz, this stone is somewhat fragile, especially in larger sizes. When broken, the stone's surface is sugary, almost crumbly. Ruby quartz became available to us in 2004, apparently from a new mine in Africa. Little historical information is available on any stone called ruby quartz, but its greatest fame has been from the X-Men comics and movies. The character Cyclops, field leader of the X-Men, must wear ruby-quartz lenses at all times to protect others from his dangerous optic blasts, which he cannot otherwise control. In reality, however, it would be extremely difficult to see through this cloudy stone!
  Rutilated quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Rutilated Quartz

Gold-colored, hairlike inclusions of rutile (a titanium dioxide mineral) embedded in this gemstone give it the appearance of a frozen meteor shower. The term rutile means "reddish" in Latin. Rutilated quartz is sometimes considered a link between the crown and root chakras, and it is said to enhance physical and mental balance and stability, self-reliance and finding one's way. Many also attribute diminished fear and depression to this gemstone.
  Smoky quartz beads from Rings & Things

Smoky Quartz

aka Colorado Diamond, Morion, Radium Diamond, Smoky Citrine, Smoky Topaz
Nearly all of this brownish-black, "smoky" variety of quartz on the market (ours included) is a rock crystal that has been heat-treated to produce this coveted color. This treatment has become common because it's very difficult to find good natural smoky quartz. Be aware that in Sri Lanka, quartz varieties (smoky, rock crystal, etc) are called "topaz" in English. The dealers (usually) are not intending to mislead, but when they say "topaz," they simply mean quartz! To tell the difference between topaz and smoky quartz, run your thumb across the table facet; topaz is very slippery and your thumb will slide across the facet like ice, while your thumb will "stick" on the quartz. This gemstone is believed to be excellent for grounding and removing negativity. It is said to enhance survival instincts and help one reach personal and business goals, as well as assist in making wishes come true. Many use smoky quartz to treat problems associated with the lower torso, including kidneys, abdomen, pancreas and reproductive organs. They say it also is good for dealing with hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder.
  Fine solar quartz gemstone beads from Rings & Things

Solar Quartz

Solar quartz is a natural (usually colorless, white or gray) agatized quartz cut from stalactites. The cut reveals the concentric circles formed by minerals in a lovely radiating pattern. The center may be composed of small quartz crystals (druzy) or air bubbles (holes). Since the center is somewhat fragile, these beads are best used where they will not be subject to much wear and tear, such as pendants or pins.
  Snow quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Snow Quartz

aka Milk Quartz, Quartzite, White Jade
The second most common color of quartz, this fresh, icy-white gemstone gets its appearance from inclusions of minute gas bubbles and/or water. Snow quartz is said to bring good fortune, and is a calming and soothing gemstone. Many believe it helpful for meditation and looking within. It also is considered beneficial for the immune system.
  tourmalated quartz (image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Tourmalated Quartz

aka Tourmalinated Quartz, Black Hair Quartz
This is a quartz in which dark needles of tourmaline are embedded.

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