This week we’re going to talk about Smoky quartz.
As an aside, I grappled with the spelling of “smoky” for years (actually I still have to think about it when I write it). I always wondered, “is it ‘smoky‘ or ‘smokey‘!?” (And how many times can you read and say ‘smoky’ before the word becomes like a non-sense word!?) Just to share what I learned, ‘smoky’ (without the “e”) is an adjective, ‘Smokey’ (with the “e”) is a proper noun (name) such as Smokey Bear. Growing up with a father and grandfather in the Forest Service, I read a LOT about Smokey Bear. I used the “e” variation of smoky when referring to quartz for years. You may still catch a typo or two where I left in the “e”.
At any rate, I digress. To bring us back to topic, Smoky quartz is a darker form of quartz, which may range from a very light, almost indecipherable grey or light brown in varying degrees through the spectrum of greys and browns up to very dark, almost black in color.
Below is a picture of a few examples of very light brown and light grey Smoky quartz. Sometimes you can’t really tell it is smoky unless it is held against a much lighter background and/or placed near a non-smoky crystal.
Here is a picture of darker to medium grey and brown Smoky quartz:
And lastly, a picture of very dark Smoky quartz:
The quartz structure itself is the same as regular (colorless) quartz in composition, but the Smoky crystal has encountered radiation. I found a very interesting (albeit somewhat dry and very technical) article (written in 1925!!) on what gives smoky quartz and amethyst their unique coloring (meaning when a crystal is irradiated, what inside it causes the quartz to become smoky?) Here is a link to that article from American Mineralogist written by Edward F. Holden.
To summarize what I read in this article, basically Mr. Holden disproved the hypothesis that Smoky quartz contains either iron, titanium, or manganese, causing the smoke, because the occurrence of these minerals in the Smoky quartz was found to be small, and bore no relation to the depth of color. And also that the pigment cannot be a hydrocarbon. He does say that “It seems probable that smoky quartz owes its color and the property of scattering light to particles of free silicon, of atomic, not colloidal, dimensions. It is believed that small amounts of that element are liberated by the radiations from radioactive substances present in the quartz or in the solutions from which it crystallized.” He proves that heat will cause Smoky quartz to lose its color and become clear; “The heat-decolorization of smoky quartz is a time-temperature reaction. Decolorization is complete and immediate at 400°, but continued heating at 235° will cause practically complete loss of color. ”
Sometimes crystals are irradiated by man, and other times it occurs naturally in the earth. The very dark black crystal in the photograph above is probably irradiated by man, but whether a crystal is naturally smoky or man-induced smoky, I am told is impossible to know for certain. The only absolute way to know is if you dig a Smoky quartz crystal yourself, or a reputable dealer tells you which it is (whether it is natural or irradiated by man). Oftentimes quartz will be sent off to be “smoked” and especially so if it is also paired with another mineral. A good example of this is when quartz is paired with Adularia, which is bright white in color and doesn’t react to the irradiation. The result is a specimen with very dark black quartz crystals and very white surrounding Adularia. (This pairing of smoky quartz and Adularia also occurs in nature, see this picture.) Personally, I prefer the look of Smoky crystals which haven’t been irradiated. The black seems too black and therefore, to me, looks unnatural.
Metaphysically, when would a person choose to work with Smoky quartz? Smoky crystal is a good grounding stone due to both its color and also its feeling of heavy, often dense, energy. You might want to carry a piece with you (or wear Smoky quartz jewelry) if you tend to be flighty, spacey or easily distracted. A person who tends to live in their upper chakras (head in the clouds) would benefit from the energies of Smoky quartz. Conversely, and seemlingly counter-intuitively, if you tend to be negative or easily depressed, Smoky quartz may be elevating to your mood because it helps ground and pick up your negativity. If you use Smoky quartz for this purpose, be sure to cleanse and charge your Smoky quartz frequently.
Colored crystals (such as Smoky Quartz, or Amethyst, Citrine, Flourite etc) will fade in bright light, I always assumed it was the light that fades them, but after reading this study, I am inclined to believe it is the heat more than the light. However, to make the already confusing even more confusing, I have also read articles which (citing the same study) say that being in sunlight might not be sufficient heat to fade the crystal. Whichever it is, it is best not to keep your colored crystals where they might get overheated or in bright light if you want to preserve their dark color.
I hope you have enjoyed this discussion of Smoky quartz. next week we’ll talk about Soulmate or Twin quartz crystals.
Here is a recap of the past posts featuring the metaphysical configurations and links to where you might find these various crystal configurations if you decided you might like to work with them:
SMOKY QUARTZ (For Grounding and Mood Elevating) purchase Smoky quartz read blog post
RAINBOWS (Hope and Optimism) purchase Rainbow Crystal read blog post
DOW or TRANS-CHANNELER CRYSTALS (For divine balance, and a connection with the self and Universal Truth.) Note: Dow crystals are rare, and I don’t always have very many of them. Sometimes the ones I have are Dow by count (7-3-7-3-7-3) but have one large 7-sided face (present as a Channeler) or two large 7-sided faces and one small 7 (present as a Transmitter). If you order one, I will let you know at time of purchase what I have available. purchase DOW or TRANS-CHANNELER crystal read blog post
See you next week for Soulmate or Twin quartz crystals.