What are the different types of crystals? Crystals are prismatic solid structure of minerals found in nature and artificial construction, their shape and hardness being the result of the lattice structure of their atoms. The term is most closely associated with gemstones, which are usually carved into ornate shapes and worn by humans as jewelry. In nature, crystals rarely have this rounded shape; they are usually multi-sided and end in pointed tips, are irregular and jagged, and in some case may form in clusters. As for the atoms comprising these natural beauties, they vary depending on the exact nature of the crystal.
Popular types of crystals such as a diamond, for example, is comprised of pure carbon and merely condensed into a hard solid shape, while other types of crystals are a mixture of various elements and can come from a variety of sources. Several crystalline compounds, such as obsidian, are volcanic rocks, the intense heat and pressure of the volcano having moulded the elements into their trademark shiny form.
Others may be metamorphic rock, the result of sediment being compressed and shaped until it resembles a more classic crystalline structure.
Among naturally-occurring types of crystals, quartz is one of the most diverse; it’s a blanket term referring to several different types of naturally-occurring gems, including amethyst and topaz. A good example of non-gemstone types of crystals is gypsum, the main component of drywall; its crystals are clear-white, often form in water-rich environments where the gypsum collects as sediment, and in rare cases have been larger than human beings. Similarly, when salts are filtered from their aqueous state and solidified, they will form natural crystals; though in the process of refining the salt into a more usable shape, their original crystalline structure may originally be lost in favour of a more rounded and simplistic one. While all of these examples have been naturally-occurring instances, it’s crucial to note that not all crystals occur in nature; sugar, once it has been processed at a mill, will have a crystalline structure as well.
Besides jewelry, other types of crystals have also been used in human inventions; a classic example is the crystal radio, a simple device with no power in which the crystal itself acts as a primitive diode. In a more obscure example, wine glasses are often not made of true glass (heated silica sand) as their name implies; they are often made with lead crystal due to its solidity. Crystals are known to display prismatic effects on light, the overall results of which vary depending on the shape,size and colour of the particular crystal. Their irregular edges reflect light, condense it, or even reduce it to a few basic shades, as opposed to the full spectrum of colours making up normal “white” light. Gemstones are specifically cut to exploit this principle; a large part of their perceived value comes from the dazzling displays they make while filtering light, a process humans find beautiful. However, it takes great precision and delicateness to properly shape gemstones; as rigid mineral structures, they may prove brittle, and are usually cut with small tools through rigorous processes.