Merchandise / Gemology
These gemological wonders in quartz are snapshots of their host crystal's youth
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
In a way, using the term phantom to describe beautiful, surreal inclusions in quartz is inappropriate. Dictionary definitions of phantom say the presence of something may be felt but it doesnt exist physically. In quartz, phantoms are present and visible, though often discreet, translucent and ghostly. Other times, theyre starkly outlined inside the host crystal, often lined with thick, colorful inclusions prone to forming abstract patterns.
Phantoms occur in many minerals, including diamond, beryl and peridot. But theyre most appreciated in quartz, where their presence is dramatic and varied.
Mineralogists theorize phantoms occur when another mineral (goethite, chlorite or hematite, for example) deposits itself along the surfaces of quartzs prismatic faces while the gem material is forming in a hydrothermal environment. The quartz keeps growing, trapping the inclusions in an orderly hexagonal prism. Sometimes, you can see multiple phantoms, akin to tree rings. In a sense they occur for similar reasons. Phantoms form due to a change in the environment of growth, as do tree rings.
Mineralogists define quartz phantoms as a form of the crystal habit. Because quartzs habit is hexagonal and prismatic, phantoms reveal a time capsule of the crystals youthful expression, a moment frozen in place during the crystals growth. Quartz phantoms occur primarily in rock crystal (colorless quartz) and sometimes in amethyst, citrine and smoky quartz.
The polished quartz crystal slice pictured exhibits a dramatic, ethereal phantom. You can see at least three prismatic faces in the phantom. It is translucent and pale green (if you look carefully) probably because of the sudden presence, and later disappearance, of chlorite during the crystals formation. The image of the graceful female figure on top of the phantom was reverse-carved by Krista L. McMillan of Vineland, Ontario, Canada.