Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Picture # 130
Here is another grouping of fine quartz crystals from Dr. Vladimir. This amazing cluster is only a couple of inches thick but is almost a foot long. Each crystal exhibits atomic perfection on its edges and sides. You can see a red or pink color in the background that is caused by iron migrating from the seed plate. The pink iron is trapped inside clear layers of quartz. The color is very consistent and has a distinctly different shade from most iron trapped inside of natural quartz.
Picture # 131
Natural quartz contains many varieties of iron compounds including rust or hematite. The complex interactions of fluctuating growth temperatures and pressures in the ground can create fanciful swirling patterns of colors inside quartz crystals. Iron that coats any crystals' outer surfaces is typically removed with wood bleach or a product named “Iron Out.” Whatever color is left after cleaning is trapped inside the crystal. If the rust is in a crack or joint between two crystals, it might be removable by extended soaking in wood bleach alternating with a baking soda solution or ultrasonic cleaning. If the iron leached into a crystal crack over millions of years, it may take days, months or years to clean the iron out with chemicals. Many people prefer to just leave the iron as a natural contrasting color.
Don't be worried by the idea of using chemicals on your quartz crystals. These crystals are impervious to all chemicals except hydrofluoric acid. The crystals had millions of years' exposure to many chemicals in the ground. This process may deposit many colors on them.
Picture # 132
The precise growth of crystal edges and facets is amazingly complex. As I magnify the crystal details with strong macro lenses, the patterns become increasingly intricate. These finely made features reflect precision all the way down to electron microscope levels. In this Dr. Vladimir cluster, some crystals are less than one millimeter thick.
Picture # 133
This is a detail of a Dr. Vladimir quartz cluster. The area of view is three inches. He considers these clusters as sculptural artworks and signs his name on each grouping with a diamond stylus. This cluster looks very much like natural quartz from Collier Creek, Arkansas, or the long acicular (needle-like) crystal clusters from Colombia, South America.
Picture # 134
Dr. Vladimir uses a process called “hydrothermal growth” to create his quartz crystals at 600 ° F. There are other processes for growing quartz crystals at much faster rates. Normal crystal growth occurs around 2000 ° F near volcanoes in the ground. This can also be duplicated in a crystal factory using high pressures and high temperatures for accelerated growth rates.
Typically, a laboratory crystal will weigh about two pounds (one kilogram.) It looks like a small building brick and is called a "crystal brick." These bricks have frosty facets around the edges and two large flat sides with rippling patterns that look like 1/4-inch bubbles. The laboratory crystals are then sliced and carved to create tiny "frequency-tuned" quartz chips for electronic purposes.
A typical growth rate for these lab crystals would be around one pound per month instead of the slower rate of one ounce per year for hydrothermal growth. Some American laboratories have been able to accelerate quartz crystal growth to the rate of 250 pounds per day! If those conditions exist in nature, with naturally occurring catalysts in the ground, then some of the giant crystals we see in museums may have grown in a matter of months or a few years. Even at a normal growth rate of one pound per month, these giant crystals would seldom take more than a few years to achieve their full size.
Picture # 135
There is a common misconception that natural quartz crystals take millions of years to grow. This is not true for quartz. Their growth is much faster. However, after growth occurs, the crystals spend millions of years in the ground before we find and mine them. During all that time, the crystals are cushioned and even polished by the crystal clay that surrounds them. This clay has one of the smallest natural powder sizes on the planet. It makes a great polishing compound, which is activated by earthquakes and earth movements over the course of millions of years. Purified crystal clay is also the basis for most toothpastes and car polishing powders.
Quartz crystals originally formed in volcanic areas. Most of the crystal growth occurs deep underground where magma heats up the surrounding rocks. Since the crystals may be 5,000 or 10,000 feet underground, they would be difficult to find except for two factors.
First, the crystal deposits may be driven up to the surface in the continental process of mountain formation. This raises the crystal deposits closer to the surface of the ground. Then the second factor kicks in. Erosion over millions of years, or hundreds of millions of years, removes thousands of feet of overlying rocks. In Arkansas, the Ouachita Mountains have eroded over 4000 feet, which left the quartz deposits right at the surface. All the rocks that covered the crystals are now decomposed into soil, sand and dirt.
Even as we mine millions of quartz crystals out of the earth each year, billions of crystals are being formed in volcanic areas around the planet. Other kinds of crystals are formed underground by the flow of mineral-rich waters that are heated by tectonic or magmatic forces. There is a constant cycling and recycling of crystals from the depths of the earth to the surface and back down again. There is no shortage of crystals on Planet Earth!
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com