A cut and polished Chalcedony geode
|Chemical formula||Silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2)|
|Molar mass||60 g / mol|
|Fracture||Uneven, splintery, conchoidal|
|Mohs scale hardness||6 - 7|
|Luster||Waxy, vitreous, dull, greasy, silky|
|Specific gravity||2.59 - 2.61|
Chalcedony (pronounced /kælˈsɛdəni/) is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of the minerals quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, whilst moganite is monoclinic.
Chalcedony has a waxy luster, and may be semitransparent or translucent. It can assume a wide range of colors, but those most commonly seen are white to gray, grayish-blue or a shade of brown ranging from pale to nearly black.
The mineral gets its name from the town of Chalcedon.
Chalcedony occurs in a wide range of varieties. Many semi-precious gemstones are in fact forms of chalcedony. The more notable varieties of chalcedony are as follows:
Agate is a variety of chalcedony with multi-colored curved or angular banding. Fire agate shows iridescent phenomena on a brown background; iris agate shows exceptional iridescence when light (especially pinpointed light) is shone through the stone. Landscape agate is chalcedony with a number of different mineral impurities making the stone resemble landscapes.
The most common colour of aventurine is green, but it may also be orange, brown, yellow, blue, or gray. Chrome-bearing fuchsite (a variety of muscovite mica) is the classic inclusion, and gives a silvery green or blue sheen. Oranges and browns are attributed to hematite or goethite. Because aventurine is a rock, its physical properties vary: its specific gravity may lie between 2.64-2.69 and its hardness is somewhat lower than single-crystal quartz at around 6.5.
Aventurine feldspar or sunstone can be confused with orange and red aventurine quartzite, although the former is generally of a higher transparency. Aventurine is often banded and an overabundance of fuchsite may render it opaque, in which case it may be mistaken for malachite at first glance.
The name aventurine derives from the Italian "a ventura" meaning "by chance". This is an allusion to the lucky discovery of aventurine glass or goldstone at some point in the 18th century. Although it was known first, goldstone is now a common imitation of aventurine and sunstone. Goldstone is distinguished visually from the latter two minerals by its coarse flecks of copper, dispersed within the glass in an unnaturally uniform manner. It is usually a golden brown, but may also be found in blue or green.
The majority of green and blue-green aventurine originates in India (particularly in the vicinity of Mysore and Madras) where it is employed by prolific artisans. Creamy white, gray and orange material is found in Chile, Spain and Russia. Most material is carved into beads and figurines with only the finer examples fashioned into cabochons, later being set into jewellery.
Main markets for aventurine are landscape stone, building stone, aquaria, monuments, and jewellery.
Carnelian (also spelled cornelian) is a clear-to-translucent reddish-brown variety of chalcedony. Its hue may vary from a pale orange, to an intense almost-black coloration. Similar to carnelian is sard, which is brown rather than red.
Chrysoprase (also spelled chrysophrase) is a green variety of chalcedony, which has been colored by nickel oxide. (The darker varieties of chrysoprase are also referred to as prase. However, the term prase is also used to describe green quartz, and to a certain extent is a color-descriptor, rather than a rigorously defined mineral variety.)
Heliotrope is a green variety of chalcedony, containing red inclusions of iron oxide. These inclusions resemble drops of blood, giving heliotrope its alternative name of bloodstone. A similar variety, in which the spots are yellow instead of red is known as plasma.
Moss agate (also known as tree agate or mocha stone) contains green filament-like inclusions, giving it the superficial appearance of moss or blue cheese. It is not a true form of agate, as it lacks agate's defining feature of concentric banding.
As early as the Bronze Age chalcedony was in use in the Mediterranean region; for example, on Minoan Crete at the Palace of Knossos, chalcedony seals have been recovered dating to circa 1800 BC. People living along the Central Asian trade routes used various forms of chalcedony, including carnelian, to carve intaglios, ring bezels (the upper faceted portion of a gem projecting from the ring setting), and beads that show strong Graeco-Roman influence.
Fine examples of first century objects made from chalcedony, possibly Kushan, were found in recent years at Tillya-tepe in north-western Afghanistan. Hot wax would not stick to it so it was often used to make seal impressions. The term chalcedony is derived from the name of the ancient Greek town Chalkedon in Asia Minor, in modern English usually spelled Chalcedon, today the Kadıköy district of Istanbul.
At least three varieties of chalcedony were used in the Jewish High Priest's Breastplate. (Moses' brother Aaron wore the Breastplate, with inscribed gems representing the twelve tribes of Israel). The Breastplate included jasper, chrysoprase and sardonyx, and there is some debate as to whether other agates were also used.
In the 19th century Idar Oberstein became the world's largest chalcedony processing center, in particular agates. Most of these agates were sourced in Latin America, in particular Brazil. Originally the agate carving industry around Idar and Oberstein was driven by local deposits that were mined in the 15th century. Several factors contributed to the re-emergence of Idar-Oberstein as agate center of the world: ships brought agate nodules back as ballast, thus providing extremely cheap transport. Cheap labor and a superior knowledge of chemistry allowing them to dye the agates in any color with processes that were kept secret.
Each mill in Idar Oberstein had four or five grindstones. These were of red sandstone, obtained from Zweibrücken; and two men ordinarily worked together at the same stone.
Chalcedony was once thought to be a fibrous variety of cryptocrystalline quartz. More recently however, it has been shown to also contain a monoclinic polymorph of quartz, known as moganite. The fraction, by mass, of moganite within a typical chalcedony sample may vary from less than 5% to over 20%. The existence of moganite was once regarded as dubious, but it is now officially recognised by the International Mineralogical Association.
Chalcedony is more soluble than quartz under low-temperature conditions, despite the two minerals being chemically identical. This is thought to be because chalcedony is extremely finely grained (cryptocrystalline), and so has a very high surface area to volume ratio. It has also been suggested that the higher solubility is due to the moganite component.
Solubility of quartz and chalcedony in pure waterEditar
This table gives equilibrium concentrations of total dissolved silicon as calculated by PHREEQC using the llnl.dat database.
|Temperature||Quartz Solubility (mg/L)||Chalcedony Solubility (mg/L)|
See also Editar
- ↑ Rudolf Duda and Lubos Rejl: Minerals of the World (Arch Cape Press, 1990)
- ↑ 2,0 2,1 Heaney, Peter J., 1994. Structure and Chemistry of the low-pressure silica polymorphs. In: Reviews in Mineralogy v. 29; Silica: Physical Behavior, geochemistry and materials applications. Ed. Heaney, P.J., Prewitt, C.T., Gibbs, G.V., 1-40
- ↑ CIBJO (The World Jewellery Federation, international federation of all national trade organizations and gemological laboratories), Retailers' Reference Cuide: Diamonds, Cemstones, Pearls and Precious Metals, May 2009, Bern, Switzerland CIBJO member laboratories
- ↑ C. Michael Hogan, Knossos fieldnotes, Modern Antiquarian (2007)
- ↑ Section 12 of the translation of Weilue - a 3rd century Chinese text by John Hill under "carnelian" and note 12.12 (17)A. Also see Afghanistan's exhibition:Intaglio with depiction of a griffin, Chalcedony, 4th century BC, Afghanistan
- ↑ 6,0 6,1 Streeter, Edwin, 1898. Precious Stones and Gems. Page 237
- ↑ Chalcedony mineral information and data. http://www.mindat.org/min-960.html
- ↑ 8,0 8,1 Heaney, Peter J., and Jeffrey E. Post. "The Widespread Distribution of a Novel Silica Polymorph in Microcrystalline Quartz Varieties." Science ns 255 (1992): 441-443. JSTOR. Aug. 2007. Keyword: moganite
- ↑ Origlieri, Marcus. "Moganite: a New Mineral -- Not!" Lithosphere (1994). Aug. 2007 <http://fgms.home.att.net/moganite.htm>.
- ↑ Nickel, Ernest H., and Monte C. Nichols. "IMA/CNMNC List of Mineral Names." Materials Data. June 2007. Aug. 2007 <http://www.geo.vu.nl/users/ima-cnmmn/MINERALlist.pdf>
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