Quartz is the most common of all minerals. It consists of silicon dioxide and is found in many rocks, particularly acid igneous rocks such as granite and metamorphic rocks such as gneisses. It is also found in sand and gravel, which form sandstone when consolidated. Quartz typically occurs as colourless or white hexagonal prisms. The colourless form is the purest and known as rock crystal, often used as imitation diamonds.

But quartz is also used as a gemstone when coloured by impurities. For example: amethyst (violet-purple), rose (pink), citrine (yellow) and brown (cairngorm). Uncut clusters of rock crystal as pictured here are very popular and found in many parts of the world including the Alps - but are very difficult to discover. Many crystal prospectors spend a lifetime searching the “innards” of mountains with hammer, chisel and crowbar to uncover these natural treasures.

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