The 2 Things That Make Quartz Many Colors


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Quartz is a fascinating crystal: It starts off colorless and, with a few tweaks, it bursts into a kaleidoscope of colors and crystals.

Pure quartz is made up of silicon and oxygen, and it’s clear or white. But when other elements get into the quartz or there are structural changes inside the crystal, quartz can become any number of colors, like green, pink, blue, yellow, purple, brown, black, and more!

Pure quartz is colorless or white
Clear quartz or pure quartz is colorless or white, like the quartz in this photo.

When quartz changes color it becomes a different crystal and gets a new name. For example, quartz that turns purple becomes amethyst. Let’s break this down to understand what changes the color of quartz, how and why this happens, and what some common quartz colors are called and how they form.

In this blog post, you’ll find out:

  • The 2 things that turn quartz into many different colors
  • A list of quartz crystals, their colors, and how they’re created

Why quartz has many different colors

There are two things that change quartz into many different colors. These are:


As we know, pure quartz is made up of silicon and oxygen. Any other elements that get added to the quartz are called impurities because they aren’t in pure quartz. They “dirty” or change the quartz in a way, like extra ingredients added to the mixing bowl.

Different impurities turn quartz different colors. For example, quartz is clear until the element iron gets into it. This element is an impurity, and, under the right conditions, it turns the clear quartz purple and makes it an amethyst.

Impurities can come from various sources and processes. Here are some of the common ways impurities get into clear quartz:

Impurities come from surrounding rocks and minerals

Sometimes quartz is surrounded by other rocks and minerals when it forms. These rocks and minerals have different elements and substances in them, which get into the quartz crystal as it grows.

For example, if the surrounding rocks have iron or aluminum in them, the growing quartz crystal can pick up those elements and turn into amethyst or rose quartz.

Hot liquids in the Earth’s crust

Quartz crystals can form from hot liquids deep within the Earth’s crust. These liquids are called hydrothermal fluids and can carry many dissolved elements, like iron, manganese, and titanium.

When these liquids come into contact with a growing quartz crystal, they can deposit impurities in the crystal that then form part of the crystal’s structure. These impurities can change the quartz’s color.

Rocks changing deep within the Earth

Quartz can also form when existing rocks change into a different form, in something called a metamorphic process.

During a metamorphic process, rocks undergo intense heat and pressure deep within the Earth. These conditions cause chemical reactions and transformations.

If the original rock contains elements or minerals with distinct colors, these can be released and incorporated into forming quartz crystals and change the color of the quartz.

Fluids or environmental conditions change a formed crystal

Even if quartz crystals have formed, they can still change over time when exposed to different fluids or environmental conditions.

For example, some quartz crystals, such as yellow citrine, are created when amethyst or smoky quartz is exposed to intense heat. The heat affects the existing impurities in the crystal, turning it a different color.

Structural defects

Quartz crystals are made up of a repeating pattern in their structure called a crystal lattice. Sometimes when a crystal forms, something happens to cause a defect or irregularity in this lattice structure. These defects can influence the color of the quartz, as well as the properties of the final crystal.

Some of the most common causes of structural defects in quartz crystal are:

Heat and pressure

Quartz crystals face high temperatures and great pressure when they form inside the Earth’s crust. How heat and pressure affect a quartz crystal depends on many things, like what impurities are there, how long it’s put under pressure or is exposed to high heat, and how intense all of this is.

Sometimes heat and pressure affect impurities in the quartz, which can change the crystal’s color. But this isn’t very common and there are usually just subtle color changes, not dramatic transformations.

Radiation and environmental factors

Natural radiation and other environmental factors, like exposure to sunlight, moisture, or certain chemicals, can change the crystal lattice of quartz and affect its color.

The primary source of natural radiation that affects quartz crystals is typically radioactive elements in the Earth’s crust. These elements, such as uranium, thorium, and potassium, emit radiation as they decay over time.

When quartz crystals are exposed to this natural radiation over long periods, the high-energy particles and rays interact with the crystal lattice, causing disruptions and creating structural defects.

For example, smoky quartz has a brown to black color. This color comes from natural radiation that creates defects in clear quartz to make the crystal look smoky or dark.

Types of quartz crystals

There are many different types and colors of quartz.  

The table below gives a solid list of quartz varieties, along with the colors they come in and what impurities or structural defects cause these colors in quartz.

Quartz VarietyColorsCauses of Color
AgateBlue, purple, pink, green, white, brown, gray, black, multicoloredVarious impurities and mineral inclusions
AmethystPurple (pale lavender to deep violet)Iron impurities
AventurineGreen with shimmering metallic inclusionsFuchsite (green mica) inclusions
Blue Quartz        Pale blueInclusions of dumortierite or tourmaline
CarnelianOrange to reddish-brownIron oxide impurities
Cactus Quartz    Purple, white, yellow     Iron and aluminum impurities
CitrineYellow to golden brown Iron impurities
Fire Quartz         Red, brown        Hematite inclusions
Green Quartz    Pale green to deep greenHeat-treated amethyst or natural irradiation
Hawk’s Eye         Blue-gray with chatoyancyCrocidolite (blue asbestos) fibers and reflection of light
Hematoid Quartz             Red, brown        Hematite inclusions
Himalayan Ice Quartz     Clear, white        Presence of snow or ice during formation
JasperRed, brown, yellow, green, orange, gray, white, black, multicoloredVarious impurities and mineral inclusions
Milky Quartz      Milky white, translucentMicroscopic fluid inclusions
Morion Quartz  Dark smoky brown to blackNatural irradiation and aluminum impurities
OnyxBlack, banded black and whiteVarious impurities and mineral inclusions
Phantom Quartz              Colorless with ghost-like colored zonesGrowth interruptions and mineral impurities
Prase Quartz      GreenActinolite or chlorite inclusions
Rose QuartzPinkTitanium and iron impurities
Rutilated Quartz              Clear with golden or red rutile inclusions Rutile (titanium dioxide) inclusions
Smoky Quartz   Brown, gray       Natural irradiation and aluminum impurities
Spirit Quartz      Purple, white, yellow     Iron and aluminum impurities
Strawberry Quartz          Pink with red inclusionsInclusions of iron oxide or goethite
Tiger’s Eye          BrownFibrous asbestos (crocidolite) and reflection of light
Tourmalinated Quartz    Clear with black or green tourmaline inclusions     Tourmaline inclusions
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Monique loves crystals and has been collecting them for many years.

She loves learning about how they form, where they come from, and how they help us in our daily life.

She shares everything that she learns and tests here at Jewel And Crystal Guide.


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