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Morion crystal from Brazil

One of the most popular gemstone from the quartz family is smoky quartz. It has an unusual color for a gemstone and can be easily recognized and is well known by the general public. Alluring in its clarity and color, smoky quartz ranges from medium brown through warm grays to a deep, brownish-black, with the darker colors being most desirable.

Only a few other brown or black minerals are ever cut for gemstones such as black diamond, smoky topaz, the very rare black beryl or brown corundum. Smoky quartz is also popular as an ornamental stone and is carved into spheres, pyramids, obelisks, eggs, figurines and ornate statues.

Necklace with morion cabochon
click to enlarge

Smoky quartz, a variety itself of quartz, has a few varieties of its own. A very dark brown to black opaque variety is known as morion. Morion is the German, Danish, Spanish and Polish synonym for smoky quartz. The name is from a misreading of MORMORION in Pliny the Elder.

Cairngorm is a variety of smoky quartz crystal found in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. It usually has a smoky yellow-brown color. It is used in Scottish jewelry and as a decoration on kilt pins and the handles of sgian dubhs. The largest known cairngorm crystal is a 23.6 kg (52 pound) specimen kept at Braemar Castle.

Coon tail quartz is a smoky quartz with an alternating black and gray banding. Gwindel is a smoky quartz cluster of nearly parallel crystals, each rotated slightly relative to the one beside it.

Natural smoky quartz comes from many sources around the world. A few of the more noteworthy locations include Brazil, the world's largest supplier; Pikes Peak area of Colorado, USA; and the Swiss Alps, which has produced many tons of fine specimens.

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