When it comes to colourful minerals, many think of sapphires and rubies, but fluorite also comes in lots of colours. The colours are determined by the chemicals within it and how the light interacts.
Squeezing a quartz crystal generates the smallest electrical current, which can be used in batteries for keeping time in watches and clocks.
The lowly sugar cube is amazing! Go into a dark room and break up the cubes with a glass. You’ll see “triboluminescence,” a faint blue glow.
Another fascinating crystal, the tablet-shaped crystals are almost scale-like due to their yellow-green scales. It is radioactive, and as a result, it fluoresces.
Rich in lead but considered a non-metal, its real talent is its ability to extract voices and music from radio waves. It has been used in crystal radio sets since the early 20th century. It can conduct electricity in some circumstances.
The Cueva de los Cristales or Cave of Crystals in Chihuahua, Mexico, houses the largest crystals in the world, with some as long as 11m. Elongated gypsum crystals known as selenite feature here.
Diamond – a carbon derivative – is the hardest substance on Earth, now used for drilling, cutting and other industrial uses because of the carbon atoms inside arranged as a tetrahedron-shaped lattice.
These minute crystals are just a billionth of a metre wide. The crystals can be formed synthetically and used in reflective coatings on sunglasses.
Volcanic ice crystals
The southernmost active volcano is Mount Erebus, Antarctica, and it’s surrounded by ice caves that are home to ice formations not found anywhere else. The warm air from the volcano hits freezing air and creates exquisite shapes.
The Vikings spoke of “sunstone”, which they used to navigate on cloudy days, and is now believed to be calcite. Light splits in two as it passes through, creating a double image.
“Amazing” is quite a subjective description. Crystals have long been used in home decoration; think stunning antique crystal chandeliers available today from specialist firms like Rocco Borghese http://roccoborghese.com. If you’re keen for something similar in your own home, check out the information from the Home Renovation Guide.
For those interested in crystals, there is so much to learn and so many wonderful things they can do.