Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Sun-Catchers And Dazzling Man-Made Crystals
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This is my very first crystal picture. This “sun-catcher” crystal was gifted to me from my friend Bill Burnside, who used similar crystals for rainbow theater effects. Can you imagine a disco mirror-ball made out of crystal? It's a dreamy rainbow experience. These crystals are made by the Swarovski Company of Austria , renowned manufacturers of brilliant faux-gems. Each year they sell more than a billion man-made crystals around the world.
We'll take a look in this chapter at manmade crystals that resemble natural quartz. Then I'll show you how to distinguish the natural stones from the synthetic ones. The natural quartz crystals almost always have a more useful energy profile for meditation and healing work.
Almost everyone on Earth collects gems, crystals, stones or jewelry. Sparkling objects seem to hold an eternal fascination for our hearts, minds and souls.
This picture shows the tiny crystal that first zapped me with a painful shock in meditation. Its linear atomic structure does not hold energy as well as the natural spiral of quartz crystal molecules. Man-made crystals are created from melted quartz with the metal lead added; hence the designation “leaded crystal,” also mistakenly called “leaded glass crystal” or leaded glass.
Pure glass is a very different material with no crystallization of the molecules. Some examples of natural glass are obsidian from a volcano and melted silica from meteor collisions (Moldavite or Libyan Desert Glass.)
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You can hang a small crystal in the sunlight to cast hundreds of rainbows inside a dimly lit room. These "sun-catchers" generally have a hole drilled through them for thread, string or monofilament cord.
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Even tiny crystals can have complex patterns inside of them. The more facets, the more reflections; the more light and dazzle. Gem cutters follow this principle to create fiery sparkling effects inside small gemstones. This 20-millimeter crystal ball is less than an inch across, but has hundreds of reflections inside. Because of the internal multiplications of light, the man-made crystals may look even brighter than naturally faceted clear stones. This makes them very interesting as inspirational objects that remind us of the sparkly nature of our own souls.
“Leaded crystals” have lead mixed with the molten silica. This increases the brilliance of the stone by raising the index of refraction. This refractory index defines the brilliance of various materials from glass to crystal to diamonds.
The perfect polish on each facet enhances the brilliance of the sun-catcher. The companies that make these faceted leaded crystals mold the material from a dense liquid into the final shape and then use machine polishing to get a perfect finish.
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My introduction to sun-catcher crystals started with the small faceted spheres. Then I met this amazing shape, which is called an octagon. It has eight facets around the perimeter and 16 angled facets both front and back. One side is pointed while the back of the crystal has a large flat facet polished into it. You can see amazing kaleidoscopic patterns while looking through the octagon. This particular shape is 60 millimeters wide, which is over two and a quarter inches.
It is easy to put a faceted crystal in front of a camera lens to create a kaleidoscope-filming machine. There is a whole chapter coming up showing my kaleidoscopic imagery.
Even though this is a man-made leaded crystal, it is still my favorite crystal shape after 36 years of exploring millions of stones and crystals. There is just nothing like it for creating rainbow visions. I even have a pair of glasses made out of a smaller version of this incredible crystal shape. I think of this octagon as a metaphorical spaceship that takes me to inner dimensions of light and wonder. The octagon starship turns my world into a dazzling mandala of repetitive shapes and vivid colors.
Picture # 111
This image is a blend of two leaded-crystals that have unique optical effects. I placed an octagon crystal in front of my camera lens. Once in place, all the light coming into the camera was reflected and refracted through 16 facets. Due to the clarity and brilliance of the leaded crystal lens, you can find perfect multiple images of everything you view.
In this picture, I was photographing a clear 6-inch leaded-crystal ball sitting on a tree limb. The crystal ball inverted the image of the trees beyond, and then the octagon multiplied them 16 times into a crystal doughnut. Around the “doughnut,” you can see images of the trees in the upright position at Land's End , San Francisco .
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A perfectly clear leaded-crystal ball is quite a sight in and of itself. It brings the world into focus. It is a symmetrical, flawless wide-angle lens. Everything you see inside is slightly curved and completely inverted top to bottom.
Crystal balls, whether made out of glass, leaded crystal or quartz crystal, are powerful tools for optics and personal growth.
The power of a crystal ball is easily witnessed in sunlight. The globe acts like a magnifying lens for light and heat. In this picture, you can see a very bright light on the tree, focused there by the crystal ball. This is an image of the sun, where all the light and heat were condensed into one tiny spot.
Right after I snapped this picture, the heated bark on the tree limb burst into flames and started smoking! We quickly removed the crystal, put out the little fire, apologized to the tree and made sure to never expose a clear crystal ball to direct sunlight again.
Despite my knowledge of the effectiveness of crystal balls for starting fires, I had several close calls. A clear crystal ball as small as 1/2-inch diameter can start a fire. Larger crystal balls of four to six inches diameter will generate a thousand degrees of heat in a few seconds. At times, small crystal balls were sitting inside my house when a ray of sunlight started to scorch the base that the crystal ball was sitting on. This has happened four times in 30 years. Each time I was lucky enough to smell the smoke from the scorched velvet or wooden base. Please be aware that clear balls, eggs and other curved shapes can act like magnifying glasses in the sunlight. These objects should NOT live outdoors or in windows directly in the sunlight.
If you are hiking or camping, you can keep a clear crystal ball in a dense cloth bag to use as a solar lighter in an emergency situation. If you lose your cigarette lighter and matches, and the sun is shining, then a little crystal ball can be a great fire-starter.
Picture # 113
Here is the beautiful six-inch man-made leaded crystal ball sitting on a metal frame in my garden. Please note that it is not near anything flammable. Yet even picking it up carries risks, because holding it from underneath will focus the sun's heat on my hand. It generates so much heat SO fast that reflexes take over. The hand jerks back and the ball falls on the ground. If it falls on concrete or rocks, it will break.
The beauty of these clear spheres touches something elemental within my soul. The power of the ball to focus light is a metaphor of focusing levels of inner light, one's soul light. If you imagine yourself inside a clear sphere, then everything in the universe can come into focus. I use the image of a clear globe to create an imaginary object inside my mind, inside my skull, where there is a zone of inner clarity. I then focus on being aware of floating inside a crystal ball inside my head, inside my body, with a much larger pure clear sphere of white light around my aura. This is a very comforting meditation for me. It seems to empower my sense of security as well as my creativity. By picturing a perfect sphere, I bring myself into a centered state of mind.
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What is that weird looking crystal? This is a fine example of a pure laboratory quartz crystal. While there is a lot of natural quartz in the ground, most of it is broken shards or small particles like sand. A very small percentage of the rocks on our planet are found as beautifully faceted clear crystals that are big enough to hold comfortably.
Many of the broken crystals end up being used in electronics after they are formed into crystal chips that time intricate computer operations. Over the last 100 years, researchers have discovered how to melt and then re-crystallize pure quartz crystal. They can take beach sand and turn it into an eight-inch long crystal like the one above. By orienting the growth of the laboratory crystal, various electronic effects can be imparted to the crystal chips that are cut from it.
Laboratory crystals are extremely pure, perhaps even more so than most natural quartz. One thing you will always notice on a laboratory crystal is a thin and slightly hazy “seed plane” running down the middle of the quartz. On the crystal above, you can also see the characteristic bubble pattern that occurs on some of the facets. When the crystal reaches a larger growth size, the bubbles flatten into smooth facets.
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The purest laboratory crystals are an ice clear color, or maybe we should say water clear, which is totally flawless. However, some laboratory crystals have metals added to the molten quartz. They take on various colors and different electronic properties. This blue quartz is from a laboratory in Russia , where they added pure cobalt to the silica to create a vibrant indigo color. In the middle of the crystal, you can see the clear seed plane where the crystal growth originated.
These laboratory crystals are grown from thin flat sheets of colorless quartz that are hanging from multiple rack structures inside of a giant pressure cooker. The original thin sheet forms the seed plane.
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The family of natural quartz crystals includes orange and yellow ones called citrine, purple crystals called amethyst, rose crystals that are pink, smoky crystals that are gray, brown or black, and clear crystals. Occasionally you can find a natural blue, red or green quartz crystal.
All of these colors have been duplicated in laboratory crystals from Russia . Each color comes from the addition of a different elemental metal to the molten quartz. Iron causes citrine colors. Manganese causes purple colors. Cobalt creates the blue tones. Chromium yields green crystals. Titanium creates pink crystals. There are colors caused by other metals as well.
While all of these can occur in nature, the crystal scientists can create pure versions of these natural stones. While the natural stones have inclusions that can block visibility, laboratory crystals are perfectly clear. If you are buying collectables made out of super-clear quartz, check with the seller to make sure that you are not getting a laboratory product. The clear natural crystals are much more valuable and can command high prices. Don't be fooled by giant stones that seem too cheap. They may be man-made.
It is difficult to distinguish between natural crystal and lab crystal unless there are inclusions that indicate growth underground. In Volume 4, the chapter on crystal balls will tell you different ways to determine what material a crystal is made from.
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Over the last century, researchers have developed methods for growing various gem crystals in the laboratory. Laboratory grown rubies were used to create the first lasers. Laboratory gems like ruby and emerald can look like the finest stones on earth. However, they cost a fraction of the price of a classic gemstone.
Quartz crystals have been used for 70 years to control electronic circuits in radios, computers and satellites. Laboratory quartz provided a big boost for the electronics industry. Most laboratory quartz is very distinctive looking and can be recognized at a glance.
In recent years, the gentleman in the picture above, Dr. Vladimir Klipov, has succeeded in growing intricate quartz clusters in the laboratory. These look similar to natural quartz clusters from Arkansas and other areas. The little crystals are perfectly faceted, perfectly clear and very pointy. These needle-like shapes are called “acicular crystals” (pronounced ah-sick-you-lar.)
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It is unlikely that anyone will try to pass off a laboratory cluster as a natural stone. The bottom of each lab cluster shows the metal plate that was used as a seed for growing the three-dimensional shapes in quartz. The plates take on a variety of colors due to chemical interactions in the solution.
First, the metal seed plate is covered with fine layers of tiny, sparkly crystals. The metal is an instant clue that the cluster came out of a factory. There are few of these in circulation due to the difficulty of growing fine crystals. Even the tiny crystals took three years to grow at temperatures of 600 ° F. The largest crystal you can grow by this hydrothermal method is about one ounce per year.
A laboratory cluster of tiny quartz crystals will always have the metal plate embedded in the bottom where it is covered by a thin layer of clear sparkly quartz. Because it is so intimately embedded within the quartz, the metal plate cannot be removed. This is the signature that you have a Dr. Vladimir crystal in your collection.
Here is the bottom of a Dr. Vladimir cluster. It shows pastel colors from the seed plate. Please note the heavy leather gloves. The tiny needle-like crystals are razor sharp. Natural quartz crystals can also have razor-like edges particularly in cracked or broken areas. These molecular knife blades are much sharper then steel scalpels.
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com