Smoky quartz

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Smoky quartz

Smoky quartz is a brown to black variety of quartz.[1] Like other quartz gems, it is a silicon dioxide crystal. The smoky colour results from free silicon, formed from the silicon dioxide by natural irradiation.




A very dark brown to black opaque variety is known as morion. Morion is the German, Danish, Spanish and Polish synonym for smoky quartz.[2] The name is from a misreading of mormorion in Pliny the Elder.[3] It has a density of 5.4.


Cairngorm is a variety of smoky quartz crystal found in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. It usually has a smokey yellow-brown colour, though some specimens are a grey-brown.

It is used in Scottish jewellery and as a decoration on kilt pins and the handles of sgian dubhs (anglicised: skean dhu). The largest known cairngorm crystal is a 23.6 kg (52 pound) specimen kept at Braemar Castle.


Sunglasses, in the form of flat panes of smoky quartz, were used in China in the 12th century.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smoky Quartz on Mindat
  2. ^ Morion on Mindat
  3. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed., 2005), p. 1102.
  4. ^ Joseph Needham, Science & Civilisation in China (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1962), volume IV, part 1, page 121. Needham states that dark glasses were worn by Chinese judges to hide their facial expressions during court proceedings.

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