While tourmalines can be pricey, most color variations of quartz are quite affordable & often come in large sizes with minimal inclusions, making for satisfying jewels on a budget. Quartz is a relatively hard mineral with a Mohs scale of 7, so it makes for relatively sturdy jewelry.
Quartz comes in many colors from clear to deep purple & brown. Here are some of the most common colors you will find in transparent material.
Rock Crystal is clear quartz & looks like glass–see lower right hand corner above. Sometimes there are various inclusions of tourmaline or titanium (see previous post on fabulous flaws.)
Smoky Quartz varies from pale smoky grey to dark brown or even black–see top row in above picture. “Whiskey Quartz” is the more golden variety seen in the upper right corner of the above photo. May have inclusions as described above.
Amethyst is probably the most well known of the quartz family. Pale lavender colors are known as “Rose de France”. Deeper purples from Brazil & Siberia are highly valued & may have deep reddish flashes of color. Inclusions should be rare or absent in fine material. Amethyst is the birthstone for February & can form huge crystals in giant geodes, such as the one below that was on display in Tucson, allowing for occasional very large, impressive & $$$ jewels.
Citrine is the yellow to gold variation. Sometimes it forms along with amethyst in a single crystal resulting in ametrine. Citrine is the birthstone for November.
Prasiolite is a pale, cool green, often incorrectly referred to as “green amethyst”. Prasiolite tends to form smaller crystals and jewels over 5ct are very rare, but smaller stones are common & affordable.
Rose Quartz comes in various shades of pink to deeper rose & it is rare to fine material transparent enough to warrant faceting. The common cloudy material is usually cut into cabochons or smooth beads.
Fine amethyst can retail for $10-100/ct for moderate sized stones. Very high quality Siberian material can be $200/ct for stones under 3 ct or more. Prasiolite is usually under $20/ct & rose quartz can be even less expensive. Lower quality stones of all varieties are often cut into drilled beads of various shapes that may be smooth or faceted.
Opaque varieties of quartz include chalcedony, agate, bloodstone, tiger’s eye & carnelian, all of which have their own rainbow stories.