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Rose Quartz

A pink color-variety of the mineral quartz

What is Rose Quartz?

Rose quartz is the name used for specimens of the mineral quartz with a pink color. It is abundant, common, and has been found in large quantities at numerous locations around the world. It is usually found as massive, anhedral occurrences in hydrothermal veins and pegmatites. The color of rose quartz is attributed to microscopic inclusions of a pink variety of the mineral dumortierite. These inclusions are usually abundant enough to make the rose quartz translucent instead of transparent. [1]

Rarely, pink quartz in the form of transparent-to-translucent euhedral crystals has been found as late-stage mineralizations in pegmatite pockets. The color of these specimens, especially those that are transparent, is thought to be caused by irradiation-induced color centers associated with aluminum and phosphorus replacing silicon in the quartz lattice. This color is often unstable, fading with exposure to heat or light. This type of quartz is rare but has been found in several locations around the world. Many people believe that this transparent material should be called “pink quartz” instead of “rose quartz.” [1]

Physical Properties of Rose Quartz

The pink color of rose quartz ranges from a very light, almost imperceptible pink, to a rich translucent pink. It is usually cut into cabochons, beads, and faceted stones of about eight millimeters in size or larger to display the rich pink color.

Some specimens of rose quartz contain a dense network of fine inclusions that align with the gem’s hexagonal crystal structure. If a cabochon is cut so that its base is perpendicular to the c-axis of the quartz crystal, the cabochon might display asterism in the form of a six-ray star. The best star stones have a vivid pink color and a distinct, symmetrical, and well-centered star.

Physical Properties of Rose Quartz

Chemical Classification silicate
Color Pale pink to vivid pink. Sometimes zoned.
Streak colorless (harder than the streak plate)
Luster vitreous
Diaphaneity transparent to translucent
Cleavage none - typically breaks with a conchoidal fracture
Mohs Hardness 7
Specific Gravity 2.6 to 2.7
Diagnostic Properties conchoidal fracture, glassy luster, hardness, pink color, translucence
Chemical Composition SiO2
Crystal System hexagonal
Uses cabochons, beads, carvings, spheres

Uses of Rose Quartz

Rose quartz is one of the most commonly encountered lapidary materials. It is very common, usually inexpensive, and popular as tumbled stones, beads, and cabochons. These have the richest color in pieces of at least 8 millimeters in thickness because of the material’s weak color. Faceted rose quartz is rarely seen because transparent pink quartz is rare, and translucent rose quartz does not compete well with other faceted materials.

Pieces of rose quartz up to a few pounds in size with nice color are usually available and relatively inexpensive. For that reason it is commonly used to produce small sculptures, puffed hearts, spheres, and utility items.

Investigating Color and Asterism

In the mineralogical literature, the pink color of rose quartz has been attributed to titanium, manganese, and iron by a large number of authors for over 100 years. Tiny needles of rutile have been given credit for forming the six-ray star of rose quartz for the same amount of time.

In the late 1990s, an interesting investigation into the color and asterism of rose quartz was done by George Rossman, Julia Goreva, and Chi Ma at Caltech [2]. They obtained samples of rose quartz from a number of localities throughout the world and gently dissolved them in hydrofluoric acid heated to 100 degrees Celsius. This treatment was intended to dissolve away the silicon dioxide of the quartz and any included material soluble in HF at 100 degrees Celsius.

In specimen after specimen, a tangle of extremely thin pink fibers remained after the acid treatment. They examined these fibers using scanning electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, optical absorption spectroscopy, and x-ray diffraction. Through this they determined that the pink fibers are a borosilicate with properties that are very similar to those of dumortierite. These investigators believe that the pink color and asterism of rose quartz is caused by these pink fibers that they have named dididumortierite.

Sources, Treatments, and Synthetics

Rose quartz is found in abundance in many deposits throughout the world. Much of the rose quartz that is sold today is produced in Brazil, South Africa, India, and Madagascar. Other sources include Namibia, Mozambique, and Sri Lanka. In the United States, a deposit near Custer, South Dakota once produced significant amounts of rose quartz.

Rose quartz has been produced in laboratories, but synthetic rose quartz does not have a significant presence in the gem and jewelry marketplace. Natural material is too abundant and inexpensive. This removes the incentive to produce synthetic material.

La Madona Rosa and The Van Allen Belt

Rose quartz is not one of the most commonly seen specimens in mineral collections because it rarely occurs in the well-formed crystals preferred by collectors. The exceptions have been a few spectacular specimens of pink quartz with well-formed crystals that have sold for very high prices.

One specimen of note is “La Madona Rosa” (The Pink Madonna) that was sold for $550,000 in June, 2013 by Heritage Auctions. This specimen is believed to have been discovered at the Sapucaia Mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil in the 1950s. It consists of a central cluster of smoky quartz crystals surrounded by a halo of quartz crystals with a vivid pink color. It is about 39 centimeters tall and about 20 centimeters wide. [3] [4]

“The Van Allen Belt” is another famous pink quartz specimen from Minas Gerias, Brazil. It consists of a central cluster of smoky quartz crystals surrounded by a belt of pink quartz. It is on display in The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. [5]


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rose quartz specimen from Minas Gerais, Brazil
A rare specimen of rose quartz with a gemmy pink color and recognizable crystals. From the Sapucaia Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The specimen is 11.5 x 7 x 4.5 centimeters in size. Specimen and photo by Arkenstone / www.iRocks.com.

faceted rose quartz
A faceted specimen of rose quartz cut from rough mined in South Africa. This stone was cut as an oval facet of about 15.09 x 10.44 millimeters and weighs about 7.42 carats.

tumbled rose quartz
Tumbled stones made from rose quartz mined in Namibia. Rose quartz is one of the most popular tumbled stones because of its attractive pink color.

star rose quartz
A cabochon of rose quartz exhibiting a star. This stone was cut from rough mined in South Africa. It is a round cabochon about 14.5 centimeters in diameter, weighing about 13.3 carats.

Rose Quartz References
[1] Rose Quartz:. Article on the mindat.org website, in January 2015.

[2] The Secret Lives of Minerals: Elisabeth Nadin, Engineering & Science, Number 1, pages 10-20, 2007.

[3] Rose Quartz: “La Madona Rosa”: Auction description on the Heritage Auctions website, in January 2015.

[4] Heritage Auction - Rose Quartz: Video of the “La Madona Rosa” auction, on the YouTube website, in January, 2015.

[5] Visiting the Smithsonian: The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems & Minerals. Article and photo gallery on the EarthquestMinerals.com website, in January 2015.

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