How Crystals get their Color?

How do crystals get their colour?

How Crystals get their Color? We have beautiful and very unusual crystal and fossil related gifts of all sorts in our online shop. Click here to see.  Or carry on reading. (We have all the crystals shown and offer a bespoke service – just contact us for photos and details!)

How Crystals get their Color? Certain minerals are usually certain colours.  For instance Quartz is clear and colourless

How Crystals get their Color? Quartz

Quartz – colourless?

Pyrite is a golden yellow and emeralds are green.  But colour is not always a good indicator of a mineral’s identity.

How Crystals get their Color?

Colourful Calcite

For example, Calcite can be a wide variety of colours.  Green, blue, yellow, red and colourless.  Quartz, in the case of the ever popular Amethyst and Citrine, can be purple and yellow respectively.   So what determines what colour a crystal will be?

How Crystals get their Color?   The colour is determined by the elements within the mineral and any impurities also in them.  Quartz has a very simple chemical formula SiO₂.  It is composed of just silica and oxygen.  It is colourless.   However, when iron (Fe) is added, the crystals take on a purple or yellow colour.  The depth of colour depends on the oxidation state of the iron.   That is to say, the depth of colour is proportional to how much iron is present.  So the iron in the example we are discussing, would be an impurity.

how crystals get their color Vanadinite


How Crystals get their Color?  Certain elements impart specific colours.   For example lead usually gives a red colour in minerals such as Crocoite and Vanadinite.   Chromium usually gives a green colour in minerals such as Mtorolite.   Magnesium usually gives a pink colour in minerals such as Rhodochrosite and Rhodonite.  The ability for other elements to incorporate themselves into a mineral’s structure allows for a variety of colours to be achieved like in Calcite as mentioned earlier.  Need to know more?  Check out our geology blogs or see wikipedia on the subject of Pleochroism.   If you are a lover of crystals and fossils, maybe you even have some at home – check out our style guide on displaying them – don’t hide them away!  Or if you would like to buy some crystals or fossils, try our online shop – if you can’t see what you want, contact us – we have a huge choice and can virtually always source what we are asked for.