What makes rose quartz pink?

Ever wonder what exactly gives rose quartz its soul-soothing pink hue? 

Me too!

Lucky for us Dr. George Rossman, a mineralogy professor at Cal Tech asked and investigated that same question in the early 2000’s!  (Science for the win!)

He and his grad students published a couple papers (references at bottom) with some groundbreaking revelations. I’ll break it down for you in this blog post.

But first, one point of clarification.

Rose Quartz and Pink Quartz are not the same

Rose quartz is much more common compared to its ultra-rare pink quartz counterpart.  Pink quartz is translucent and has well-formed crystals. While, rose quartz is opaque and found in pink masses that don’t have defined crystal faces.

About the Cal Tech rose quartz research study

Dr. Rossman’s student, Julia Goreva gathered samples of rose quartz from 29 locations around the world, prepared them all the same way and then did a series of analytical tests. (When it comes to science- repeatability and isolation of variables are key).

The Jaw Crusher

First step was to crush the rose quartz samples and select samples of consistent particle sizes.

They most likely used a jaw crusher (I know, sounds like a WWF wrestler name). Though intimidating to use- it does a nice job crushing rocks. 

One of my first college jobs as a young geology major, was rock sample prep. I spent hours in a dark, cold basement underneath the 1950’s Earth Science building at my university shattering rocks against loud clanging machines that even the CD piping through my headphones at full blast couldn’t drown out.

Basically you drop a big rock into a chute between two large metal plates that are being pushed back and forth with a lot of force. The rock is smashed to bits and smaller pieces come out the bottom.

 Shake It Up

 After crushing, they put the particles in some sieves and gave them a good shake. Think- mesh strainer that you use to sprinkle powdered sugar on a crème brulee or French toast. You fill it up. Bang the side. The small particles of sugar go through and the larger ones stay in the strainer. 

Same concept with sieves and bits of crushed rose quartz.  And to take it one step further the sieves can be stacked up- each with different sizes of mesh screen holes to easily isolate a particular particle size.  Voila! 

 Scrub a Dub

They took the 1-5 micron sized stuff (one micron is .001 millimeters.  If you have fine hair, a single strand of it is around 5 microns.)- and did some cleaning.  A series of methanol then acid soaks removed any iron and calcite mineral growths and then they were rinsed in water. 

Caustic

Next step, after drying- was to dissolve the quartz completely and see what was left.

A good soak in 48 percent hydrofluoric acid (HF) at 100 degrees C did the trick. (Kids, don’t try this at home- HF can eat through body tissue like termites ate through my neighbor’s old detached garage. That garage lost structural integrity and they had to tear it down and build a new one.)  

Pink Fibrous Residue

After all the quartz dissolved, they found  pink residues. Little mats of pink fibers, the same color as the initial rose quartz samples! (shown in pic, courtesy of Dr. Rossman) 

The pink residues were 50-150ppm (that- parts per million) of the initial mass of the sample. This translates to 0.005 – 0.015 percent of the mass of the whole sample.  Such a teensy, tiny bit of the whole rock’s responsible for the color.  Mind blowing!

 So what’s the pink stuff?

The pink fibrous residues were cleaned, washed, dried and then analyzed with several machines to try to figure out what they are.  Scanning electron microscopy, Energy dispersion detection, x ray diffraction and x ray fluorescence were some of the techniques to test the composition of the rose fibers.

I don’t want to lose you here, so I’ll spare the details of how all these things work for now. 

(Maybe another time? One of my best friends is a boss-lady at a rock analysis lab full of these machines and more- so I got the hook up.  Let me know if you want to learn more about rock analysis.)

What did they find out?

The pink fibers are a mineral very similar to dumortierite. Do what now?  DUMORTIERITE. (Pronounced do morty uh right.)

The fibers were present in all 29 of the samples from around the globe. And all of them showed a compositional similarity to dumortierite. But not exactly dumortierite- very similar.

 A little goes a long way

Tiny traces of a mineral within the quartz have a HUGE impact!  The smallest amount of a dumoriterite-like mineral in rose quartz is entirely responsible for the dreamy color we see! 

I just have to do this

If you know me at all, you know I’m always looking for a good life lesson.  A way to learn from nature in order to enhance our lives.

What can we learn from this?

In your own life, what tiny fibers of your being color your world?  Are you in tune with your little fibers of Truth- your perfect health, wholeness, beauty and abundance?

Are you shining forth and radiating that health, wholeness, beauty or abundance? So much that its completely obvious you embody those qualities. That any passer-by that glances in your direction is like whoa- she’s got it going on.  Shine on!

Tiny Rituals

A simple, daily gratitude practice- 7 minutes of journaling 3 things you’re thankful for- can color your whole day.

A 20 minute walk outside in nature can change your whole state of consciousness. 

Pausing from your work for a few moments and staring at the crystal on your desk while taking a few deep breaths can revitalize your focus and energy.

A little goes a long way in your life too

Or you could spend 7-22 minutes every day on a dedicated act of love or kindness. That’s .005 - .015 % of one day.  The same volume % of the dumortierite-like mineral that makes rose quartz pink. 

A lovely way to remind yourself to practice self love is to place a piece of rose quartz somewhere in your home where you’ll see it every day. You can use it as a trigger.  

Every time you see it you could then go to a mirror and say “I love you” to yourself. (This idea comes from Louise Hay’s: You can Heal your Life- and it can be a seriously challenging exercise at first!)

Spread the love

Or you can share your gifts with others through acts of love. Giving to charities, supporting businesses that give back (like how portion of every rose quartz purchase from Truth Minerals goes to 16 Hands of Love) are examples of giving of your financial means.

You can also give your time to mentor and/or volunteer.  Or just giving a loving smile and genuine gratitude to your cashier at the grocery store. Small acts of kindness really can color your world.

Shop Ethically Sourced South Dakota Rose Quartz

 

References

 Goreva, Julia S.; Ma, Chi; Rossman, George R.; Fibrous nanoinclusions in massive rose quartz: The origin of rose coloration in American Mineralogist, April 2001, no. 86 volume 4, p. 466-472

 Ma, Chi; Goreva, Julia S.; Rossman, George R.; Fibrous nanoinclusions in massive rose quartz: HRTEM and AEM in American Mineralogist, February 2002, no. 87 volume 2-3, p. 269-276