Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2014, Vol. 50, No. 1

Varieties of Rutilated Quartz – Tucson 2014

Rutilated quartz crystal
Figure 1. This 85 ct quartz crystal contains bright reddish rutile needles. Photo by Robert Weldon; courtesy of Rare Earth Mining Co.
Rutilated quartz has come into its own as a mainstream gem material, thanks in part to its seemingly infinite variety and one-of-a-kind appeal for jewelry designers. Reddish rutile, owing its color to traces of iron, was exhibited at the AGTA show by Rare Earth Mining Co. (Trumbull, Connecticut). Rare Earth CEO Bill Heher said the material was recovered from Bahia in northern Brazil some decades ago before the mine closed. But due to the rising value of rutilated quartz, the deposit has been reopened and worked in recent years. The distinctiveness of the material, in this case an 85 ct gem (figure 1), lies in its relative transparency and bright reddish color—which can be matched or contrasted in jewelry.

Golden and copper-color rutile is traditionally seen in quartz, and connoisseurs are always on the lookout for a six-rayed star pattern of rutile. Though such stars occur regularly in the rock crystal, they are rarely oriented in such a way to be easily cut into a faceted or cabochon gem. Strong, isolated rutile stars located in the rough must be painstakingly oriented to be visible face-forward, as in the 34.55 ct gem (figure 2) cut by Falk Burger (Hard Works, Tucson). At the center of the star, an additional inclusion of hematite is visible.

Quartz displaying star-shaped needle formation
Figure 2. This 34.55 ct quartz has been cut to display the star-shaped needle formation. Photo by Robert Weldon; courtesy of Hard Works.
Quartz with rose-shaped cluster of inclusions
Figure 3. This 209.06 ct quartz features a rose-shaped cluster of inclusions. Photo by Robert Weldon; courtesy of Hard Works.
Burger said that rutile can take unusual forms as well. Minute gray rutile needles in the top of the quartz in figure 3 are clustered in the shape of a rose. The quartz also contains layers of pink and greenish chlorite phantoms. The quartz itself weighs 209.06 ct, and was fashioned by Burger to best exhibit the rutile rose.

Robert Weldon is manager of photography and visual communications at GIA in Carlsbad, California.