It’s easy to see why someone may mistake Kunzite for Rose Quartz at a glance, but once the differences are known, it becomes clear how they are different and how to more easily identify each from one another.
Kunzite vs Quartz (EXPLAINED)
What is Kunzite?
Kunzite crystals are a form of spodumene mineral that was named in 1902 after George Frederick Kunz, who is credited with its discovery while studying previously unidentified samples of spodumene.
It is a fairly hard material (7 on the Mohs scale), but delicate due to its cleavage.
Kunzite crystals are free of inclusions and are often pinkish or purplish in color (most visible when looking down the length of the crystal).
The crystals can suffer from color deterioration when exposed to strong natural light for extended periods of time.
This has led to a common practice of wearing jewelry with kunzite gems in it as evening wear to reduce the sunlight exposure of the gemstones.
The crystals form in flat prismatic shapes with vertical striations and come in a wide variety of colors including hues of pink, purple, yellow, green and colorless.
Different colored kunzite crystals tend to have other names, however.
Yellow crystals are often referred to as hiddenite and the green crystals are simply called green kunzite.
Colorless crystals are referred to as either spodumene or triphance.
These days, kunzite gemstones are mined in just a few countries and they are usually in close proximity to deposits of pink tourmaline and another pink gemstone, morganite.
While its colorful crystals are often used for jewelry or decorative display pieces, the colorless crystals, or spodumene, are considered to be one of the more important sources of lithium, which is extracted through chemical processing.
Lithium baring kunzite is considered to be of low toxicity and when handled properly in normal conditions, health hazards are not expected to occur.
What is Quartz?
When you hear about quartz, most likely the first image that pops into your head is that of the milky white bits of rock that are commonly found scattered among the rocks and in the soil all over the world.
That’s because Quartz is one of the most abundant materials in the earth’s crust, just behind feldspar, and can be found almost anywhere on earth.
Quartz is a crystalline mineral that largely consists of silica and is quite hard, with a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale.
It is important to know that there are many other varieties of quartz, many of which are gemstones that are used in jewelry, carvings and as decorative stones.
Pure quartz, also known as clear quartz, is transparent crystals with no color whatsoever and is the most common form of quartz crystal you can find.
These are highly sought after for carving, setting into display pieces or jewelry, and they are also used as healing crystals in some cultures.
There are two main distinctions to be aware of when examining the different forms of quartz crystals, macrocrystalline and microcrystalline.
Macrocrystalline quartz has larger individual crystals that can be easily seen with the naked eye and tend to be transparent, whereas microcrystalline quartz requires the use of magnification to see and tends to be translucent or opaque.
There are a number of colored quartz varieties that are commonly found, which include the following:
A type of quartz crystal that has a range of purple hues ranging from deep violet to a more translucent lavender tone, which all come from the amount of trace iron material in the crystal’s composition. Amethyst is sometimes found growing alongside citrine and, more rarely, in the same crystal. These are known as ametrines.
A type of quartz crystal that contains ferric hydroxide impurities within its composition. Their color varies from various shades of yellow to brown depending on the level of impurities present.
In most cases, the citrines found in commercial use are actually amethysts or smoky quartz that have been heat treated as natural citrine is actually quite rare.
These man-made citrines will tend to have small visible lines in them that make them identifiable as unnatural citrines.
A natural citrine will look somewhat cloudy when inspected. Yellow citrine is also quite hard to distinguish from yellow topaz without doing a hardness test.
A type of quartz that has mineral dumortierite inclusions which give it a light or dark blue color. These inclusions can sometimes have purple or gray tones as well. Blue quartz is considered to be a minor gemstone.
A type of quartz that contains iron, manganese or titanium mineral content that gives it a range of pink and red hues which are warmer looking than the pink hues seen in kunzite.
In most cases, rose quartz appears cloudy and has visible inclusions within its material.
Crystalline rose quartz is a much pinker version of this mineral composition and is much rarer and is thought to get its color from small deposits of aluminium or phosphate.
A type of translucent quartz crystal that can be almost transparent to a dark smoky gray to almost black or brown color that is more opaque.
The color in these crystals comes from trace amounts of aluminium in the structure of the crystal and depending on the amount of the mineral present, the translucency will vary.
Prasiolite is a type of quartz that appears green in color and is also called vermarine. This type of quartz primarily comes from Brazil but has been found in Poland and Canada as well, although in a much smaller quantity.
This is one of the rarest forms of colored quartz and, in most cases, green quartz seen in commercial use is actually heat treated amethyst.
What we can take away from all of this is that while kunzites look similar to some types of quartz (rose & pink specifically), they have a very different mineral composition and tend to be mined for their lithium content.
Quartz, on the other hand, is one of the most abundant materials on the planet and comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and is largely silica based.
The various types of quartz have a multitude of uses and they are typically gathered from open pit mines and the material is mostly used in the production of electronics.
Quartz is also a primary component in granite and other igneous stones.
If you would like to learn more about kunzite and the types of quartz discussed in this article, check out Ronald Bonewitz’s book: Rock and Gem: The Definitive Guide to Rocks, Minerals, Gemstones, and Fossils.
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