Impurities Determine Quartz Crystal Colors
One of the naturally occurring minerals, quartz crystal can be found in various colors are designs, and they are one of the harder minerals known. Registering a seven on the Mohs scale, with a diamond registering a 10, quartz crystal can withstand a lot of mistreatment, yet can be ground, sanded, drilled and filed to be reshaped into decorative pieces. It is also a relatively available mineral.
It has been said that quartz is the most abundant mineral on the earth, but this only takes into account the part of the planet that can be seen and mined, the crust and with the numerous varieties of quartz, the abundance of quartz crystal can be seen as the most plentiful. Despite its availability, there are some varieties of quartz crystal which are considered valuable.
In fact, quartz mines are available where families can visit and mine their own quartz crystal and its value is often determined by the same 4-Cs as other precious gemstones. Color, clarity, carat and cut is a measure all gemologists use to help determine the value of mined stones. In the case of quartz crystal, color is determined by the lack of color and some colors can be manipulated by subjecting the stone to heat.
Quartz Has Many Commercial Applications
While quartz crystal has many applications in industry, it is also used to help keep watches running on time, used as resonators and tuning forks and in small piezoelectric devices providing spark to ignite gas flames such as those on the family barbecue grill. Low pass wave filters and optic prisms are also made possible with quartz crystal.
In the early days of two-way radio communications, crystals used to define specific channel frequencies, were made of quartz crystal and maintained their tolerance with the accepted frequency band. They could also be used as a frequency standard to which other frequency generators were set.
They are also used in a frequency oscillator as a quartz crystal will vibrate at a specific frequency when alternating current is passed through the quartz. Over two billion are manufactured every year for use in watches, clocks, cell phones as well as in signal generators and oscilloscopes.
When quartz crystal watches first exploded into the culture in the 1970s they were typically priced at around $500. As more work was done with quartz and its use as a time measuring device became more widely accepted, prices dropped dramatically. Today there are quartz watches given away for free as prizes or incentives.