Quartz crystal, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), contains 46% silicon and 53% oxygen. Each tetrahedral quartz molecule is composed of four atoms of oxygen and one of silicon.
Tetrahedrons are 4-sided closed geometric figures composed of equilateral triangles. In other words, they are three sided pyramids lying on a base of equal area.
Furthermore, rotation of the bond about the axis is almost completely free. This means that silicon dioxide, or silica, can grow into many different possible crystalline structures, and can also easily form amorphous materials with no long-range order.
When silica forms amorphous solid structures, the result is various types of glasses, which have no clearly defined internal molecular structure.
Chains of tetrahedral quartz crystals bond in spirals which in turn link to form a precise, repeating latticework of molecules. This latticework creates the macroscopic geometric quartz crystal structure.
The basic structure of quartz consists of spiraling chains of tetrahedrons, which are connected together to form a very regular framework of interlocking tetrahedral helixes.
In sacred geometry, the tetrahedron is considered the most basic and fundamental of the Platonic solids, considered by Western mystery school traditions to be the three dimensional manifestations of the five elements found in nature -- fire, water, air, earth, and ether, also called quintessence, space or Spirit.
The Platonic solids are convex polyhedra with equivalent faces composed of congruent convex regular polygons.
In the Timaeus, Plato associated each of the four classical elements (earth, air, water, and fire) with a particular polyhedron found in nature.
Fire was associated with the tetrahedron, water with the icosahedron, air with the octahedron, and Earth was associated with the cube.
According to the online Wikipedia, "There was intuitive justification for these associations: the heat of fire feels sharp and stabbing (like little tetrahedra). Air is made of the octahedron; its minuscule components are so smooth that one can barely feel it. Water, the icosahedron, flows out of one's hand when picked up, as if it is made of tiny little balls. By contrast, a highly un-spherical solid, the hexahedron (cube) represents earth. These clumsy little solids cause dirt to crumble and break when picked up, in stark difference to the smooth flow of water. The fifth Platonic solid, the dodecahedron, Plato obscurely remarks, "...the god used for arranging the constellations on the whole heaven". Aristotle added a fifth element, aither (aether in Latin, "ether" in English) and postulated that the heavens were made of this element, but he had no interest in matching it with Plato's fifth solid."
There is mounting scientific evidence that these crucial building blocks of sacred geometry were known long before the time of the Greek philosophers. The neolithic people of Scotland constructed stone models of all five solids at least 1000 years before Plato.These artifacts are on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.[i]
Ancient priestly architects incorporated the sacred form of the pyramid into their works in Egypt, Mexico, North America, Mesopotamia, France, China, Rome and Greece. Most of these pyramids are not precise tetrahedrons, with all four faces composed of equilateral triangles.
According to traditions of sacred geometry, the tetrahedron is the very first three dimensional solid manifested in the material Universe. The tetrahedron is the strongest and most stable of the Platonic solids, because it encloses the least volume with the greatest surface area.
Both quartz crystals and diamonds have a tetrahedral atomic structure.
However, the diamond is composed entirely of carbon atoms, and the bonds between the carbon atoms in each tetrahedral molecule are so short and so strong that the diamond is extremely difficult to cut.
The diamond is the hardest substance occurring naturally on Earth, but can be easily cut along any tetrahedral face. The diamond is also the best conductor of heat on Earth, which is appropriate for the strongest tetrahedral molecule on the planet.
The tetrahedron, a manifestation of the element of fire, corresponds to the vital energy that resides deep within the bowels of the Earth. That same fire energy found in the tetrahedron is the vital force that fuels the growth and development of minerals, plants and animals around the world.
That energy is known as kundalini energy, and is found only in human beings among sentient creatures inhabiting the planet Earth. Kundalini is the energy that drives the process of spiritual ascension and facilitates the attainment of the spiritual goal of liberation, or enlightenment, and corresponds to the Holy Spirit in Christian tradition.
The fire element also corresponds to the power of will and intention, and to the ability to manifest one's intent in the material world.
Thus there is a clear affinity between sacred stones with a basic tetrahedral structure, such as quartz crystals and diamonds, and the Universal Life Force Energy, making these stones ideal for the storage, amplification, and transmission of that energy for a variety of purposes.
That same amazing, regular crystal latticework found in quartz crystals makes them ideal for use in many modern technologies, including communications, lasers, computers, and more, as we shall see a bit later on.
Spirals of tetrahedral molecules form the crystal latticework that builds a crystal over long periods of geological time, in a variety of ways.
Water near the surface of the Earth can interact with minerals, such as silica, dissolving them into a solution. If temperatures change, the solution may precipitate crystals of silicon rich minerals, much as sea water precipitates salt when evaporation takes place.[ii]
Alternatively, rain water or water derived from cooling magma may find its way deep into the Earth, collecting in relatively cool spaces, crystallizing from solution into these pockets, forming veins of mineral deposits over long periods of geological time.
Crystals such as emerald, tourmaline, helidor, and other beryls need special elements to form, like beryllium, or boron for tourmaline, and these trace elements are usually derived from the cooling of molten rock formations.
As the magma within the earth begins to cool over time, most of the minerals that precipitate out of the magma do not include any water, so the last fraction of uncrystallized magma is extremely water rich. This rich water contains large amounts of silica and other trace elements such as beryllium and boron. Eventually, in the last stages of cooling, this mineral rich water crystallizes into what is known as pegmatite, or pockets of crystals with significant amounts of trace minerals. If beryllium is present, emeralds, heliodor, or aquamarine may form. If boron is present, then tourmaline will form.
Some crystals, such as zircon, topaz, ruby and Brandberg smoky amethyst crystallize in magamas or in gas bubbles in volcanic rock formations.
And finally, some gemstone crystals are formed by extreme heat and pressure which can only occur in the depths of the Earth. Rocks formed when volcanoes erupt come from sources of magma found quite deep in the Earth's mantle. These depths are the source of all diamonds.
Diamonds are made from graphite, the stable form of carbon at the Earth's surface. High pressures and temperatures can convert graphite to diamond. Almost all diamonds are formed in the depths of the Earth -- 100 miles beneath the surface. Scientists calculate that most diamond formation was restricted to in the first few billion years of Earthï¿½s history.
Geometry of Quartz Crystal Systems
The remarkable geometric patterns quartz crystals form in nature have been the subject of scientific inquiry for centuries. In 1660, Renaissance Saint and scientist Nicolaus Steno conducted precise measurements of quartz crystal structures and found that regardless of their source, the angles between corresponding quartz crystal faces are constant sixty degrees. This became known as Steno's Law of crystallography.
In the eighteenth century, the Abbé Haüy formulated the geometric law of crystallization. His work led to the modern definition of a crystal: any substance in which the molecules or atoms are arranged in a regular, ordered way in three dimensions. Crystals formed of the same mineral occur naturally in many different shapes, but all share specific internal structural characteristics.
There are seven shapes, or "systems" into which crystals can form. They include cubic, hexagonal, tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, and triclinic.
In accordance with Steno's law and Haüy's law of geometric crystallization, quartz often manifests in hexagonal crystalline systems. The three radial axes form six equal facets, creating a hexagonal crystal of varying length, depending upon the size of the c-axis, which forms at a ninety degree angle to the other three axes.
Quartz crystals commonly grow into the form of a six-sided prism terminating in a six-sided pyramid.
Other precious gem crystals that exhibit a similar hexagonal structure include citrine, emerald, heliodor, aquamarine, morganite, ruby and sapphire.
Amethyst and tourmaline and quartz crystal commonly occur in dipyramidal or rhombohedral crystal structures. Crystallographers classify these crystals as "trigonal", and consider the trigonal system to be a subset of the hexagonal crystalline system.
So quartz crystals can occur as either purely hexagonal or trigonal formations.
The sacred geometry of the quartz crystal provides keys to its metaphysical properties.
The quartz crystal combines the qualities of the tetrahedron, the spiral, and the hexagon in a unique structure.
As we have seen, the tetrahedron expresses the element of Spirit, the element of fire, the workings of the will forces, and the power of manifestation.
The hexagon expresses the interrelationship of matter and spirit, exemplified in the Star of David. The upward pointing triangle represents spirit, and the downward pointing triangle represents material reality. The Star of David also symbolizes the interpenetration and balance of male and female energies, the upward and downward pointing triangles respectively, and exhibits the material manifestation of Divine proportions in ideal and harmonious structure, function and order.
The hexagon occurs in both organic and inorganic forms in nature, and thus represents the bridge between living and non-living realms of material creation in the sacred science of sacred geometry.
Six-angled, six-sided and six-pointed forms of nature include: quartz crystals; the benzene ring, a basic structure in organic chemistry, and one of the basic building blocks of organic structures of nature, composed of a hexagonal configuration of six hydrogen and six carbon atoms; the hexagonal web of cellulose found in plant tissue; the hexagonal net of cells that form the tissue in the human lung; snowflakes; slices of carrot and green pepper; and honeycombs.
The spiral structure of the quartz crystal lattice of tetrahedrons forming the hexagonal prism characteristic of crystal rods is a miracle of sacred geometry, expressing the law of dynamic equilibrium and balance.
The spiral shape is also the basis for many forms in nature including animal horns, seashells, plants and galaxies.
The sacred geometry of the spiral is exemplified by the chambered nautilus which grows at a constant rate forming a shell that conforms to the outline of a logarithmic spiral to accommodate that growth without changing shape.
The Milky Way galaxy has a spiral shape, as do the whirlpools formed by wind and water, occurring in streams, oceans and in the atmosphere, where they manifest as tornadoes and hurricanes.
Human, fish, and rabbit embryos unfold in spirals of increasing size and complexity. The digestive system of the human being, and of other mammals, exhibits a spiral shape. Heart muscles grow as spirals within a three dimensional enfolded shape known as a torus. The leaves on a growing plant or tree form a spiral up the stem or trunk when seen from above.
Spiral shapes pulse and grow in all directions, yet retain their shape and structural integrity, demonstrating how nature achieves a state of balance through continuous growth and change -- a dynamic form of equilibrium characteristic of evolving systems, both organic and inorganic.
Because quartz crystals are formed by spirals of tetrahedral molecules, at the microscopic level quartz is the ideal medium for receiving, amplifying and transmitting the sacred fire of the Holy Spirit, the alchemical, primal element of fire.
And because quartz crystals form hexagonal rods, they are nature's own magic wands. Slice the tip of any quartz wand with a well-defined hexagonal shaft, and you a Star of David appears. Quartz crystal wands are indeed three dimensional Star of David mandalas, the ideal container for Universal Life Force Energy.
The macroscopic structure of the quartz wand makes it the ideal bridge between the Divine and the mundane, between the world of Spirit and the world of material reality. The "living waters" of the Holy Spirit, also known as Universal Life Force Energy, prana or chi can be received, amplified and transmitted according to the will and intent of the individual initiated into the secrets of quartz crystals for purposes of healing, meditation and spiritual growth.
Because of their unique sacred geometry, consisting of tetrahedral molecules, spiral latticework and hexagonal prismatic shapes, quartz crystals are considered by metaphysicians, shamans, healers and modern day Lightworkers to be the ideal tools for creating and maintaining equilibrium and balance in living systems. That is the definition of holistic healing.
These same features of quartz crystals make them ideal for the storage, reception and transmission of electrical energy, and forms the basis for the use of quartz crystals in modern communication devices ranging from radio and television to computer chips, radar, digital watches and much of the rest of the technology associated with the late Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries -- the technology associated with the birth of the Age of Aquarius. We shall explore these uses of quartz crystals in a moment.
Because of the variability of their molecular geometry, which depends upon the angle of the bridge bonds between oxygen and silicon, each quartz crystal is unique, and quartz crystals often fail to conform to the ideal geometric structure.
Because quartz crystals are not ideal, Platonic solids, and because they are individualized forms created deep within Grandmother Earth through a variety of very energy-intensive and time-consuming processes, each has its own unique history, much, much longer than any human lifespan.
Each quartz crystal has its own unique energy signature as a result of its unique history, and it is quite logical that crystal healers from pre-history to the present stress the unique nature of each crystal. Each crystal has its own personality, so to speak, and each crystal has its own unique capabilities and special "talents".
We shall return to this when we discuss crystals in relation to meditation and healing.
Twin crystals are common, and considered by spiritually minded crystallographers to have unique metaphysical qualities. Both single and double terminated crystals abound.
Quartz may be transparent, translucent, or opaque; it may be colorless or colored. Many varieties of quartz occur around the world because quartz forms in so many different geographical climates and rock formations. Varieties include: ordinary colorless crystallized quartz, or rock crystal, rutillated quartz, rose quartz, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and amethyst.
They may contain streaks, lines, rainbows, metallic flakes, clouds, water bubbles or other inclusions. The inclusions are of two primary kinds -- metallic flakes and clouds. Clouds are created by tiny bubbles or flows of fluid entering the crystal during the period of its formation.
The beauty of the inclusions can add to the value of the quartz crystal, depending upon the nature of the inclusion, its visibility, and overall appearance of the crystal.
Inclusions do not diminish the utility of the crystal for spiritual or energy work, and often inclusions will enhance the efficacy of the crystal, imparting specific metaphysical properties that are prized by healers and energy workers.
The Source of Quartz Crystals and the Global Marketplace
Quartz is the low-temperature stable form of silicon dioxide or silica. Silicon and oxygen are the two most common elements in the Earth's crust.
Quartz crystal is perhaps the most common mineral found on the face of the Earth. Sand and sandstone are considered "clastic" forms of quartz by mineralogists, meaning that they are formed of fragments of pre-existing rocks.
Although quartz makes up a large portion of the Earth's surface, there are only three places in the world that have enough high quality quartz crystal to warrant large-scale industrial mining operations. These are Brazil, Madagascar, a small island off the coast of Africa, and Mt. Ida in the Ouachita Mountain range of Arkansas.
Systematic scientific methods of prospecting and industrialized mining operations are seldom used to locate and develop deposits of precious minerals, crystals and most gemstones.[iii]
Diamond mining is the exception to this general rule, because the market for diamonds is closely controlled by a virtual cartel composed of a handful of large global corporations, which set global prices to their best advantage. The diamond cartels enjoys predictable profits and uses its wealth to finance highly industrialized operations with great economies of scale. The image of the hardy band of mercenaries trading in blood diamonds is largely a creation of fiction writers and film makers.
Very little professional expertise is brought to bear in the global marketplace for precious minerals, secondary gemstones and crystals.
Most prospecting is done by amateurs operating with little capital and almost no modern equipment, and most development of mineral resources is done by poorly trained under-educated workers equipped with hand tools and, sometimes, fairly primitive explosive devices.
Quartz crystals from many, many locations around the world are offered for sale in today's market.
In some instances, such as mines in India or China, small mining operations utilizing primitive tools produce significant quantities of highly specialized forms of quartz crystal.
When crystals and gemstones are mined from deposits where the crystals originally grew, it is often necessary to penetrate deep into the earth, or into mountains, and even volcanoes, and then to remove tons of rock and carefully sift through it to obtain the precious minerals and crystals.
In other cases, such as in Indigo Quartz deposits in Bahia, Brazil, quartz crystals are found in quantity very near the earth's surface in what are called alluvial deposits.
River plains and deltas are made entirely of alluvial deposits, but smaller pockets can be found in the beds of upland streams.
Alluvial deposits are formed when fast-moving rivers and streams slow down as they travel through flatlands, approaching oceans and seas, and rock particles gathered by upland rivers fall to populate river bottoms. These alluvial deposits can consist of a whole range of particle sizes, from boulders down through cobbles, pebbles, gravel, sand, silt, and clay and are crucial in the creation of rich delta land. Much of the world's richest farmland lies on alluvial deposits.
Desirable minerals, including quartz crystals, which were present in rock formations in faraway mountains, can be concentrated and deposited within stream beds, or even found in farmers' fields in delta regions in these alluvial deposits. Sometimes crystals and gemstones are found beneath sandy riverbeds or in the sandy soils at seashores and by lakebeds where they have been gathering for hundreds of thousands of years.
Obviously it is much easier to mine in such conditions and requires very little in the way of sophisticated technique or equipment. Crystals and gems found in these types of environments are also easily obtained without recourse to tools and techniques that can cause significant environmental damage to a mineral-rich area.
Distribution of rich veins of valuable minerals and crystals occurs almost randomly around the world. Regions known for their mineral wealth include: South Africa, Namibia, India, southeast Asia, the Ural mountains, Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, and the mountains of the United States.
Regardless of the source of quartz crystals, there is no doubt that obtaining them and cleaning them is a very difficult, time-consuming and labor intensive practice.
Rockhound Washing Lemurian Crystals OnSite at Mine in Brazil
In many locations, crystals found near the surface of the earth are loosened from the matrix that surrounds them with hand tools, high-pressure pneumatic tools, or explosives. Vertical and horizontal shafts dug into the earth or into mountainsides are also quite common, although it is very unusual to see large-scale mines such as one associates with the diamond industry.
In recent years, the cost of quartz crystals has been climbing, and this is partly because worldwide demand is outstripping the supply, but also because mine workers are increasingly being offered a slightly better share of the profits.
The fact is that the prices American consumers pay for quartz crystals remain a bargain because the crystals come from locations where workers and crystal cutters are paid a fraction of what American workers would demand. This is why crystal jewelry and even very expensive Vogel style crystal wands commanding extremely high prices are cut by fine craftsmen in Brazil and Hong Kong.
Over the last decade, as the number of home shopping jewelry networks proliferates, and consumers around the world demand more and more gems and crystals for adornment and for their metaphysical and healing qualities, the supply of high quality mineral specimens and crystals has totally failed to keep pace with the demand.
Especially at the high end of the market, meaning mineral specimens unusual for their beauty or rarity, and generally valued at $20,000 or more, collectors are finding that most of the very best known veins of top-quality gems and crystals have been played out. Dealers make most of their money by reselling pieces from existing collections.
Those fortunate enough to own world-class specimens of precious minerals and precious and semi-precious gemstones, including tourmaline, emeralds, heliodor, tanzanite, aquamarine, topaz and other highly prized stones have received a most generous return on their investment as demand soars and new supplies dwindle.
The value of collector quality cut crystal gemstones and precious mineral specimens has skyrocketed in the last five years, increasing as much as 1,000% in many cases, according to the November, 2006 edition of the Forbes Collector newsletter.
The current global economic crisis has not yet lowered prices for good quality crystals, gems and mineral specimens in America. Because over the last several years collectors in Europe, London, Japan, China, and to some extent, India, have been willing to pay much more for good quality crystals and gems than Americans have been willing to pay, many dealers have been selling their best pieces outside America.
This trend accelerated during 2007 and 2008, as the weak dollar resulted in sticker shock for Americans buying crystals, mineral specimens and gemstones from foreign sources. Now, in early 2009, the dollar has revived and the currencies of many producing nations, such as Brazil, India, China, and Mexico, are in decline, along with their economies, so it may be that prices in America will drop a little as a result. On the other hand, international dealers rightly perceive the American economy to be in a crisis of historical proportions, and are sending less quality and less quantity of product to American markets.
Those who expect to find bargains should sit tight in 2009 and test the waters periodically over the next few months to see what becomes available. It may be that some distressed individuals will be selling items from world-class collections but we are several years too early in this global bear market for the entire high-end mineral market to collapse, but there are signs that prices may over time revert to levels common in the years 2004 or 2005, a substantial reduction from 2008 prices.
Although laboratory grown quartz crystals are now widely available, and come in a variety of striking and handsome colors, these crystals are still primarily used for industrial purposes in the computer industry, in lasers, and in communications devices.
Those who prize quartz crystals and their close relatives among semi-precious gemstones as collector's items have no interest in these laboratory creations, and those who utilize these sacred stones for spiritual purposes have found that the energetic signature and metaphysical qualities of the laboratory quartz crystals in no way compares to the power of those specimens formed over hundreds of thousands of years within the womb of Grandmother Earth.
[ii] I am indebted to the Socrates website operated by the University of California at Berkely for much of the information included here pertaining to the geological formation of crystals and gemstones. See: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~eps2/wisc/Lect3.html
[iii] Gemstones of the World, Walter Schumann, Stirling Publishing Company, pp. 64 ff.