If you have multiple quartz pieces or crystals, you might wonder if one contains precious stones like diamonds. But although diamonds and quartz look very similar at first glance, they’re made of very different elements and rarely occur together.
It’s possible, though highly unlikely, to find diamonds in quartz crystals. Diamonds form deep beneath the Earth’s surface, whereas quartz forms in oxygen-rich caverns, caves, and streams. Finding one inside the other is extremely rare.
This article will explain whether it’s possible to find diamonds in quartz and discuss how these two crystals differ.
Finding Diamonds In Quartz Is Possible But Rare
Both diamonds and quartz are the results of long-term geologic processes, but diamonds form in the Earth’s mantle, while quartz forms closer to the Earth’s surface, where oxygen is abundant.
Consequently, finding a diamond inside a quartz crystal is exceptionally rare.
To better understand why it’s unlikely to find diamonds in quartz, it’s crucial to examine the key differences between these materials.
Diamond and Quartz: Differences In Formation
Although crystal-clear quartz crystals and colorless diamonds might look similar to the naked eye, these minerals have several notable dissimilarities.
For example, diamonds and quartz rarely, if ever, form in the same environments. As a result, finding diamonds inside a quartz crystal is highly unlikely. Let’s explore how these two stones form to understand why diamonds are rarely found in quartz crystals.
How Diamonds and Quartz Form
Every mineral or stone has a unique formation process that makes it what it is, from granite to rubies.
This formation process is vital to understanding why some minerals are highly abundant, such as quartz, while others are comparatively rare, such as diamonds. The way these stones form also helps us understand why it’s rare to find diamonds inside quartz.
How Diamonds Form
Contrary to popular belief, diamonds don’t come from coal. While diamonds and coal are both made of carbon, the fourth most abundant element in our universe, their formation and origins differ significantly.
Mineral coal is essentially a partially-decayed organic matter that has hardened due to extended exposure to high-pressure, high-heat environments. This typically happens after sinking into the Earth’s mantle.
Diamonds form in the same type of environment, but they don’t come from organic substances. In fact, all naturally-occurring diamonds on our planet today may have formed long before the first plants developed.
Some Diamonds Are Almost As Old as Planet Earth
The Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old, and the first half-billion years is called the Hadean Eon. During this period, the planet was a lifeless fiery ball of minerals, constantly bombarded by asteroids and large meteorites.
These impact objects were rich in many minerals, including carbon.
As the Earth entered the Archean Eon and these impacts became less frequent and catastrophic, the liquid rock on the planet’s surface began to cool and form the crust. This process helped generate the Earth’s internal structure, which still exists today.
And the carbon trapped beneath the surface of the planet is what would eventually form diamonds. Most diamonds are between one and three billion years old. Consequently, some diamonds are only about 1.5 billion years younger than Earth.
Diamonds Form Deep Beneath the Earth’s Surface
The Earth’s continental crust is about 30 km to 100 km (18.6 miles to 62 miles) thick, varying significantly depending on the presence of topographical elements like mountains and valleys.
Diamonds form in the Earth’s upper mantle, the layer beneath the crust. This upper portion is mostly solid, while the lower mantle contains molten minerals. Most diamonds are found between 150 km and 200 km (93.2 miles to 124.3 miles) beneath the Earth’s crust.
When these precious stones are found lying about or partially buried on the planet’s surface, it’s likely the result of long–term tectonic activity, such as converging tectonic plates, or volcanic activity. As such, finding diamonds near the Earth’s surface is rare.
So, the key takeaways are that naturally-occurring diamonds:
- Form about 100 miles (160.9 kilometers) beneath the Earth’s surface.
- Are formed in high-heat, high-pressure environments.
- Generally take billions of years to form.
How Quartz Crystals Form
It’s crucial to note that both diamonds and quartz crystals rely on the Earth’s mantle. After all, both the upper and lower mantle are rich in silica, which is crucial to the formation of quartz.
When liquified high-heat silica rises from the mantle and cools in oxygen-rich environments near the Earth’s surface, it can crystallize to form quartz. But if left in an anaerobic environment, such as deep within the upper mantle, this silica cannot combine with oxygen atoms. In this instance, it won’t turn into quartz.
As a result, most quartz forms in rocks along the Earth’s surface, but it can also grow inside oxygen-rich caves and caverns.
In either case, the silica transforms into quartz as soon as it:
- Combines with oxygen atoms.
- Cools from a liquid and turns solid.
So, unlike diamonds, quartz can form very quickly under the right circumstances.
How Quartz Can Form Around Diamonds
Are you hoping to find diamonds in your quartz crystals?
There might be a chance you can, as both quartz and diamonds come from the Earth’s silica-rich mantle. But the likelihood of a diamond being pushed to the Earth’s surface via volcanic activity is quite low, and this is one of the only ways quartz could form around a diamond.
So, suppose a diamond finds itself swept up in a reserve of magma within the Earth’s upper mantle or lower crust, and that magma is pushed out onto the Earth’s surface during an eruption.
In that case, the silica-rich minerals in the magma can encase the diamond. Some of these minerals can form quartz crystals when exposed to oxygen molecules in the air.
However, extrusive rock, such as lava that cools quickly after reaching the Earth’s surface, tends to have minimal crystallization. Intrusive rock, which is lava that cools slowly underground, is far more likely to generate large quartz crystals.
For this reason, the type of quartz most likely to contain diamonds is that formed in underground, oxygen-rich caves near hydrothermal vents.
As you might imagine, the specific nature of this environment makes finding diamonds in quartz highly unlikely.
Best Places To Find Quartz Crystals With Diamonds
The chances of finding diamonds inside quartz are very low. But you can increase the likelihood of discovering these precious stones inside a quartz crystal by searching specific areas linked to volcanic activity and oxygen.
For example, some of the best places to search for quartz-and-diamond crystals include:
- Hot springs
- Hydrothermal underwater caves
Naturally, searching for quartz that contains diamonds in underwater caves or near geysers can be exceptionally hazardous. As such, only those with prior approval, the right protective equipment, and plenty of relevant experience and skill, such as diving ability, should try these areas.
However, many hot springs worldwide are generally open to the public. While many of these springs are owned by federal, state, or private entities, some owners may be willing to allow interested parties to search for quartz crystals.
The area surrounding Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is a fantastic example.
Searching For Diamonds In Quartz In Arkansas
The Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas are rich in quartz, as they were formed via tectonic plates converging and subducting, resulting in parts of the Earth’s mantle being pushed upward.
These mountains are also home to a few hot springs, which are heated by underground thermal vents (openings that potentially lead to the lower mantle). Consequently, these mountains are a top-notch place to search for diamonds and quartz.
You can visit Ron Coleman Mining to try your hand at digging for quartz crystals, some of which may contain diamonds or other precious stones. This mining company offers visitors the opportunity to mine for quartz crystals for a fee and is less than 15 miles (24.1 km) away from the park entrance.
The Crater of Diamonds State Park is only about 60 miles (96.6 km) southwest of Hot Springs National Park, and as its name suggests, it’s rich in precious stones. Like at Ron Coleman Mining, visitors can pay a small fee to dig for quartz and diamonds at this park.
Following the Rules When Searching for Quartz and Diamonds
Before heading out to either of these locations, reviewing the rules concerning stone excavation is crucial. Failing to adhere to these rules can result in hefty fines or criminal convictions. It’s also vital to only search for quartz and diamonds in approved areas.
Private property in the Ouachita Mountains is out of bounds, but the only exception is if you can secure written approval from a resident before searching their private property.
You could find diamonds inside a quartz crystal, but it’s highly unlikely.
Quartz is made of silica and oxygen and forms in oxygen-rich areas like caves, caverns, and along river beds. But diamonds form deep beneath the Earth’s surface, typically in anaerobic environments where oxygen is scarce.
However, tectonic activity and volcanic eruptions could push a diamond closer to the Earth’s surface, allowing quartz crystals to grow around it. Still, the chances of this happening are slim.