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 Smoky Quartz

 

Gemstone:
Smoky Quartz

Birthstone Month:
Smoky Quartz is not associated with any particular birthstone month.

Zodiac:
Smoky Quartz is associated with the zodiac signs of Capricorn and Sagittarius.

Chemical Symbol:
SiO2

Chemical Make-up:
Smoky Quartz is a Silicon Dioxide and a macrocrystalline variety of the Quartz family.

History & Lore:
There is not 100% agreement regarding the exact origins of the name Quartz, but the two most widely accepted opinions are that the word Quartz is derived from the Greek 'krystallos', meaning “ice”, or the German 'quarz'.

Some of the earliest primitive tools fashioned by man some 2.5 million years ago, and discovered in the Omo valley in Ethiopia were made of Quartz. It is believed that Quartz was used because of its hardness and isotropic brittleness that made the fashioning of the tools relatively easy.

Chipped flint projectile points used for fire-making have been found on Mousterian sites in western Europe that date back around 40,000 years.

In addition to its use in tool-making, certain varieties of Quartz were used for divination. Spherical Quartz rock crystals were often shaped into crystal balls and used for disease diagnosis and awareness of events occurring in distant places.

More recently there was major production of synthetic Quartz during World War II. This synthetic Quartz was used to supply crystals for radios.

 

Today, Quartz is not only used for gemstone purposes, but also as a raw chemical ingredient in the manufacturing of abrasives, cements, concrete, porcelain, glass, and many other industrial materials.

Because of its piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties, Quartz is commonly used in the production of watches, clocks, computers, and radios.

Smoky Quartz is believed to be a calm and comforting stone that can alleviate stress and transform negative emotions into positive energies. It is also said to provide clarity of thought, improve intuition and enhance survival instincts.

Physically Smoky Quartz is believed to help detoxify the body, improve fertility, and aid the proper functioning of the kidneys, adrenals, pancreas, and sex organs.

Availability:
Smoky Quartz is somewhat abundant, making the price considerably less expensive than for other Quartz varieties. It is also abundantly available in large sizes, meaning a buyer in need of a large sized gem at a low budget will often choose Smoky Quartz.

Sources:
Today, the vast majority of natural Smoky Quartz comes from Brazil. Smoky Quartz originating from Mount Cairngorm of Scotland where it is a favorite ornamental stone is called Cairngorm. There are also known deposits of natural Smoky Quartz in Australia, Madagascar, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States (Colorado).

Evaluation:
Smoky Quartz is rated at 7 on the Moh's Scale of Hardness making it a durable gemstone suitable for practically all jewelry applications. It's smoky brown to almost black color is somewhat rare in the mineral world, with only a few other minerals alike in color being cut for gemstone purposes. The color of Smoky Quartz, whether it be natural or artificial, has been produced by exposure to irradiation.

Smoky Quartz will often have minute cavity inclusions containing carbon dioxide or water. These minute fluid inclusions, if in sufficient amounts, will alter the stone in such a way that it becomes opaque. If this occurs, the stone is classified as Milky Quartz. Smoky Quartz may also have cavity inclusions containing both liquid and gas phases known as two-phase inclusions, or enhydros. In rare cases, these inclusions maybe be noticeable to the unaided eye, and in even rarer cases, the stone may actually show movement of the gas phase within the liquid phase. In addition to this, different minerals can form as inclusions within the stone. Some of the more well-known varieties are called Rutilated Quartz and Tourmalinated Quartz.

Smoky Quartz is also occasionally found with an etched pattern of lines, depressions and raised termination's. If these are accompanied by visible internal cavities arranged in geometric patterns related to the Quartz crystal structure, it is classified as Skeletal or Elestial Quartz. Skeletal Quartz often contains internal cavities containing various color clay minerals, sometimes accompanied by carbon dioxide or water which have a layered or ribbed aspect, deriving the term Skeletal Quartz.

Be weary of unscrupulous dealers selling gemstones that they claim are Smoky Topaz. There is no such gemstone named Smoky Topaz and it is illegal to misrepresent Quartz as being Topaz. Heat-treated Smoky Quartz can also be found on the market being sold more expensively as a brownish-yellow/orange Citrine.

Common Cuts:
Smoky Quartz can generally be cut into all of the common gemstone shapes/cuts. It is also a popular stone for ornamental jewelry, being carved into spheres, pyramids, obelisks, eggs, figurines and ornate statues.

Routine Enhancements:
Colorless Quartz is often irradiated to produce Smoky Quartz's distinct color. Natural Smoky Quartz is also a product of irradiation, though this occurs in nature when rock crystal Quartz is exposed to natural radiation for long periods of time.

Care & Cleaning:
Smoky Quartz is generally best cleaned using warm soapy water and a soft brush. As with most gemstones, Smoky Quartz should be kept away from household chemicals and from prolonged exposure to extremes of heat as this can cause damage or permanent changes in coloration. Smoky Quartz jewelry should be kept in a fabric-lined box away from other jewelry items in order to avoid damage / scratching.

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