So what are crystals, and how do they form ?

So what are crystals ?


Crystals occur all through nature, they are not just the beautiful stones that we wear and place in our homes. There are salt crystals, sugar crystals, crystalline formations of water that form snowflakes in the winter. 

All crystals are made up of a well organised grid-like crystalline structure. Crystals are made up of atoms of the same or different elements, the atoms have a regular and repeating pattern called a lattice. Crystals grow when more layers of the same atoms come in contact with the crystal. 

The size of a crystal will depend on how long the crystal is able to grow for and how much space there is for the crystal to grow into.

The patterns that form within a crystal are called crystal systems. There are seven crystal systems, isometric, tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, triclinic, hexagonal and trigonal. 

The crystalline structure along with the minerals and colours all affect the metaphysical properties of the crystals. Each of the crystalline structures have different vibrational energies, as do the minerals and colour. 

How do crystals form ?


What makes crystallisation possible within the earth. 

The earth has a crust, it's thickness varies from 4.8km thick in areas under the seabed, and up to 40km deep under the worlds continents. Beneath the crust is the mantle, which is around 3000km thick. The mantle makes up around 85% of the volume of the earth. The mantle is composed of molten rock which is called magma. When this magma reaches the earth's surface we call it lava. The hottest part of the mantle is in the centre of the earth where it is in constant motion. 

Where the crust and mantle meet there are high pressures and temperatures. There are plates which make up the earth and float on the mantle. These plates sometimes collide and can cause them to push down and parts of the crust break off, or they are pushed up into mountains. Parts of the rock in the crust break of and fall into the molten magma and melt, this in turn causes the chemistry of the the magma to change. 

The lower surface of the crust has fractures and cavities. The cavities is where the fluid which escapes from the magma flows. The cavities provide the great conditions for the crystals to form and grow. The fluid is rich in chemicals and the cavities provide the space to enable the crystals to grow. As the hot fluid moves through the cavities it cools and allows crystallisation to take place, the size of the crystal will depend on the time and space that it has to grow.

The crystal will begin to form, and grow for as long as the conditions are perfect. The earth's crust and magma layers are turbulent, if more of the crust is fractured it may close the cavity and the crystals growth will stop. The crystal will lay dormant, until maybe the conditions change allowing entry of the chemical rich fluid once more. If these chemicals differ then other minerals may form on the edge of the crystal. This is how you have inclusions in crystals. Should conditions change again, then the original crystal may form over the top, trapping minerals within the crystal. This is how you get tourmaline trapped in quartz crystal, or how phantom quartz and garden quartz is formed.