Rock Crystal Quartz

Diamonds may claim ownership of the nickname "ice," but rock crystal is actually named for that frozen substance. Pliny the Elder called it krystallos—Greek for "ice." It's an appropriate name: Rock crystal quartz does look a lot like ice. But did Pliny actually believe that rock crystal was ice, frozen so hard it would never melt again? Pretty vivid imagination, considering that quartz really isn't that cold to the touch. Rock crystal, colorless quartz, silicon dioxide—whatever you call it, it's one of the most versatile gem materials ever unearthed. It is used as a gemstone, beautiful in its own right, and also cut to imitate the ultimate colorless gem, diamond. In fact, doubly terminated (i.e., with a classic pyramidal point at both ends of the specimen) rock crystal quartz crystals found in Herkimer, N.Y., have been dubbed "Herkimer diamonds." Rock crystal has been carved int

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