By: Marlene Affeld
Suffering from a severe case of “gold fever; exploring the back country is my delight, prospecting my passion. I love the freedom, the majestic mountain beauty, wildlife encounters and the elusive quest for gold.
Old time prospectors have told me, “gold travels with quartz”, so don’t ever just toss a piece of quartz as it comes through your classifier, check it out, it may contain gold.
Considered the most common mineral on earth, quartz makes up approximately 12% of the earth’ s crust. Quartz is a unique chemical compound of silicon and oxygen, silicon dioxide SiO2, commonly called silica. Quartz occurs in almost all mineral environments and is an important constituent of many rocks, including sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic formations.
One of the most varied of all minerals, quartz with a 7 rating on the Mohs scale of hardness, occurs in many different forms; translucent to opaque, with beautifully formed perfect crystals or dense with no visible crystals.
Quartz also appears in a number of colored varieties; pink, amethyst (violet), citrine (yellow), or smoky quartz (brown to gray) are common colors. Quartz is actually colorless if pure, however, it may assume color variations due to inclusions of other minerals or built-in trace elements.
To add to the confusion, quartz is called by a multitude of names. Macro-crystalline varieties are those that form crystals; amethyst is a example. When people talk about "quartz", they are usually thinking of macro-crystalline quartz. Rocky quartz, amethyst, milky quartz, blue quartz, pink quartz and smokey quartz are forms of macro-crystalline quartz.
Cryptocrystalline or micro-crystalline varieties do not show any visible crystals and have a dense structure, like agate. Cryptocrystalline varieties are often grouped together and referred to as chalcedony.
Rock crystal quartz is the only known material to host magnificent inclusions of gold; a prospector’s dream! Gold inclusions in quartz are considered extremely rare. Quartz with gold inclusions ranges from ghostly white to pale milky yellow, and from translucent to nearly opaque. Pearly white is considered the most desirable color and is used in crafting exquisite pieces of jewelry.
Gold Bearing Quartz is one of the world's rarest forms of natural gold. It is found in only a few locations in the world. The majority of the world's production comes from mines in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California although it it found in other parts of the United States including Alaska. Quartz is also found in Australia,
Like snowflakes, each piece of quartz with a gold inclusion is a rare, one-of-a-kind gemstone, a unique combination of “fire and ice.” Known as “God’s Art”, fine quartz crystals have, throughout recorded history, also been cherished for their reported healing and metaphysical properties.
So always check your materials and be on the lookout for that special quartz crystal.
Wishing you color in your pan.
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