Quartz beads are made from the most common mineral on earth, actually a class of minerals, rather than a single mineral, scientifically known as silicates. Consequently, the variety found in the quartz family is vast. Amethyst, citrine, smokey quartz, and rose quartz are among the most popular quartz varieties for use in jewelry making. However, gemstone beads of agate, chrysoprase, chalcedony, and jasper are also quartz. The differentiation is their crystaline structure. Quartz is a mineral, while quartzite is a rock composed of many interlocking grains of quartz. Aventurine is a quartzite.
The term quartz is often misused when it comes to gemstone beads. For example, "cherry quartz" is actually a manmade material (glass) created to imitate a natural quartz with red rutiles called "strawberry quartz." Another common mistake is to call smoky quartz "smoky topaz." Topaz is a natural mineral, but smoky quartz is not the same mineral as topaz.
The color range of quartz is wide, but clear or milky are the most common natural colors. Consequently, quartz is often dyed to create a colored material. However, since quartz is not very porous, the dye can be washed off leaving the material clear once again.
|common treatments: often dyed|
|special care: Avoid impact, as quartz has a tendency to be brittle. (If dyed, avoid liquids or contact with light colored clothing or skin.)|
|hardness: 7 (rutilated quartz 6-6.5)|