Treasures for body and mind

24 April, 2011

Blue Quartz

Judith Ripka's blue quartz, diamond, and gold earrings
Blue quartz makes me mad. 
There are three kinds of natural blue quartz.  All three appear blue due to mineral inclusions within the quartz.  The three kinds are: crystals that appear blue due to tiny inclusions causing the Rayleigh scattering effect (the same process that makes the sky blue); crystals that are blue due to more or less evenly distributed inclusions of blue minerals, like tourmaline; and a coarse grained, massive, macrocrystalline form of blue quartz that is also colored by embedded blue minerals.  Amethyst, citrine, and smoky quartz are colored at the molecular level by trace elements, a means of coloring that makes them transparent, unlike natural blue quartz which is translucent.   I have not seen real blue quartz used in jewelry yet- probably because while it is a lovely specimen, there are prettier stones available for similar prices.
See the tourmaline inclusions throughout the stone?  Gorgeous crystal!
More inclusions reflecting color in the crystal- so very cool.
One form of transparent blue quartz used in jewelry is specifically treated amethyst called "safirita” quartz or “blueberry quartz.”  Gem quality amethyst from a specific mine is greened by heating and then changed to blue by gamma irradiation and a second heating.  These names apply specifically to this mined and altered stone.  While understood in the industry, these treatments are not often disclosed to prospective buyers.  While QVC says on its site that the stone is treated, larger letters on the site say, "Blueberry quartz is a real gemstone, not simulated, and it is truly beautiful."    
The most prevalent forms of blue quartz are synthetic or dyed.  Synthetic quartz is manmade quartz with the same chemical composition as natural quartz but with the addition of other chemicals as coloring agents not naturally occurring in quartz.  Synthetic quartz is cheap to make, can be made in any color, and is difficult to distinguish from natural quartz unless it is an unnatural color- like blue.  Jewelers who sell synthetic quartz without disclosing that it is synthetic perpetuate fraud.  Of course, quartz can be dyed, too.  Again, jewelers who sell dyed quartz without disclosing it is dyed perpetuate fraud.  A substantial amount of what is sold as "blueberry quartz" is synthetic or dyed.  BTW- Aqua aura quartz is quartz artificially coated with a microfilm of gold vapor.  Any quartz sold with that name has been artificially processed, and anyone selling aqua aura quartz should tell his or her customers that the stone has been treated. 
Synthetic blue quartz "crystal" with its colorless quartz seed plate visible- look at the size of it vs the chair by the table!
There is another reason why blue quartz makes me mad.  Once upon a time, members of the new age movement maintained that crystals had to be natural (uncarved, undyed, untreated) to manifest their energies.  Now, many new age sites sell dyed quartz aggregates as blue quartz and ascribe powers and mystic energies to aqua aura quartz.  Either new age doctrine has changed to accommodate capitalism OR new age participants are being fleeced.  

Blue and green quartz with white gold ring
"Green amethyst" Wednesday…

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