Minerals are inorganic materials that form naturally. They are formed in the earth and come in many different shapes and sizes. Minerals that are the same type will share the same chemical formula and the same ordered crystal structure, with the exception of impurities. These minerals are the most stable form of matter known within the universe.
Crystals are created by a mechanism you may not have heard of before, it is from the movement in the Earth's crust. There are a few steps we must follow to understand this, firstly we see layers of crust that are floating on the liquid rock mantle beneath. Secondly there is collisions and pressure that create fractures, and it is these fractures that allow heated liquids and gases to move rapidly towards the surface. These liquids and gases are filled with different elements and as they cool they often crystallize.
It is the different temperatures, pressure, surrounding rock and elements that all determine which minerals it is that crystallize and the different locations this happens. This process and way in which crystals and rocks form is known as igneous.
Volcanic eruptions bring the process of igneous crystal formations to the surface very dramatically. The popular healing stone obsidian is actually created from the rapid cooling of volcanic lava.
After creation crystals and rocks can often be exposed to frost, wind, and water, and this can lead them to erode. Smaller particles are often washed away in the sea and form silt deposits. Over millions of years of extreme pressure these deposits become compressed, forming sedimentary crystals and rocks. These types of minerals are often much softer than igneous crystals as they form at a lower temperature and pressure.
Another way in which crystals form is known as metamorphic. This occurs when igneous or sedimentary minerals are re-subjected to heat or pressure in the Earth's crust. Although the particles may not melt they can re-combine to form different crystals.
The fascinating thing is that the Earths crust is continually moving and this means that these crystallization processes are always in progress. We manage to get to the beautiful crystals when veins or beds are exposed by erosion, or lifted so close to the surface that they can be mined.
Crystals are very stable and they can remain unchanged for millions of years. Their atoms are arranged in a stable, regular patterns called a lattice.
The lattice of a crystal repeats throughout the crystal and every crystal of the same mineral will show the same geometric characteristics, the same number of flat faces always meeting as the same angles, and this repetition is the same no matter what size the crystal or whether it is faceted or rough. The beauty to it all is that a crystals outer form is a reflection of its internal atomic structure. All of these factors attribute to the magical and healing properties of a crystal.
These lattices fall into 7 different major types.
Different minerals that share the same core pattern will have similar basic shapes. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see these shapes externally, however careful inspection can help you to identify certain traits.
The Lattice Patterns
Cubic - A cube shaped lattice, most crystals will consist of a
number of interpenetrating cubes rather than single cubes.
Qualities: Releasing tension and encouraging creativity.
Examples: Garnet, Pyrite, Sodalite, Diamond, Halite, Fluorite, Copper, Hauyne, Tugtupite, Gold, Zircon, Lapis Lazuli, Silver, Sphalerite and Spinel
Trigonal - A diamond or barrel shaped lozenge.
Qualities: Energizing and anchoring.
Examples: Sapphire, Clear Quartz, Tourmaline, Ruby, Agate, Calcite, Hematite, Tigers Eye, Amethyst, Carnelia, Jasper, Aventurine, Citrine, Rose Quartz, Smoky Quartz
Monoclinic - Elongated squished rectangle shape
Qualities: Affects movement and perception.
Examples: Selenite, Kunzite, Howlite, Moonstone, Lazurite
Hexagonal - Shaped like a hexagonal prism
Qualities: Organizing and Supporting
Examples: Aquamarine, Emerald, Apatite, Morganite, Sugilite,
Tetragonal - Shaped like two pyramids joint at the base and elongated
Qualities: Balancing and harmonizing
Examples: Apophyllite, Zircon, Rutile, Chalcopyrite
Orthorhombic - Shaped like a small squashed matchbox with all
sides unequal in length
Qualities: Linking, aiding the flow of information
Examples: Danburite Blade, Peridot, Topaz, Celestite
Triclinic - This lattice varies and has no set angles or lengths.
Qualities: Opening and protective
Examples: Amazonite, Emerald, Labradorite, Rhodonite, Turquoise
Amorphous - No crystal structure as they often cool too quickly to crystallise.
Qualities: Protect and Connect with the Inner Child
Examples: Amber, Opal, Obsidian, Moldavite
Take a look at your crystals and see if you can spot any of these shapes.
Let us known how you get on in the comments down below.
Have a great day :-)