Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Picture # 100
Oxidized iron takes on a huge range of colors when it is trapped inside quartz. This ancient rust may be bright yellow or gold-colored as in the Brazilian quartz crystal above. Tiny water bubbles and gas bubbles appear as misty white zones.
Picture # 101
Here is a crystal from Brazil with golden rust and bright red hematite, another iron compound. This is nature's palette — a spectrum of permanently preserved colors and patinas.
This photo of a two-inch long quartz crystal from Brazil clearly shows a group of gold nuggets inside. The faceted cluster of pure gold crystals is visually reflected throughout the quartz. You can see gold mirror images in the tips and sides. The quartz material is water clear.
Much of our technology utilizes quartz crystals. Quartz crystal "chips" time all the super-fast operations of computers. The crystals receive, transmit, tune and change energies. Quartz fiber optics can also carry light energy through advanced communication systems. Without quartz crystals, our television sets, radios, computers, and World Wide Web might not exist. Today over fifteen billion silicon and silica crystal chips are in use worldwide in electronic circuits.
Picture # 103
Every quartz crystal has extensive chemical exposure during its growth or subsequent handling. It does not harm the quartz or disrupt the energy. However, various strong cleaning acids can leach the manganese crust on quartz, to the point of frosting or pitting the outer surface of the crystal. This degrades visibility to the interior and lowers the value of the crystal specimen.
If the brownish-orange coating is up to 1/ 4” thick, it might be manganese rather than a thin coat of iron. Use care in cleaning manganese coated crystals. In order to preserve the shiny clear faces, avoid strong acids like oxalic, hydrochloric or sulfuric acid. Instead, clean the crystal by chipping off the crust using safety pins or single-edge razor blades. You can also air-blast the crystals with ground up walnut shell abrasives.
Whenever you get a new quartz crystal, first clean it with water to get the dust and clay off, and then soak it overnight in a baking soda solution. This guarantees there are no old chemicals that could leach out and discolor your furniture. Be careful with cleaning other kinds of minerals and gems. Different chemicals could damage some of them. Please look up the proper cleaning procedure first.
Picture # 104
Some natural minerals can be damaged by water alone. Halite (natural rock salt) and selenite (related to Epsom salts) are particularly vulnerable to water damage within minutes or hours. I recently had an entire box of sand selenite crystals start to melt from being stored in a humid barn. The surfaces of all the crystals showed damage.
Selenite is formed by calcium sulfate. Epsom salts, another natural mineral, are magnesium sulfate. Either one can dissolve from liquids or high humidity, just like table salt or rock salt (sodium chloride.)
The white crystal shown above is a natural column of rock salt called a stalactite. I stored it in my barn, which became very humid from winter rains. At first, I could not figure out where all the water that was staining the shelf came from. I thought there was a roof leak. It turns out the rock crystal was absorbing water from the air, and then leaching liquid onto the wood. The crystal's water flowed over several feet of shelving during the course of the week's storms. This crystal was starting to self-destruct so I brought it up to the house, which is much less humid.
Picture # 105
When I put the rock salt (halite stalactite) on a dry shelf, it continued to leak salty water for days. You can see where the seepage re-crystallized into salt after it dried out.
Picture # 106
Salt occurs in many chemical crystal varieties in nature. Always try to figure out what kind of crystal you have before storing it or washing it. My friend Chris Wright once sold a beautiful pink, cubic halite crystal to a collector for $50. The new owner forgot it was rock salt. Since the crystal was really dusty, he put it in the sink with cool water running over it, and then walked away for a minute. When he came back, there was just a little pile of pink sludge in the sink. That was an expensive lesson in not paying attention.
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com