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A Stone Fortune-Tellers Can’t Do Without

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
горный хрусталь
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

This mineral is one of the most common ones on our planet, with its crystals weighing up to several dozens of tons and often being enormously large.

Rock crystal is a stone that remains cold even amidst intense heat, hence the mineral’s name that is derived from the Ancient Greek κρύος and means ‘icy cold’. In fact, back then the Greeks used the word κρύσταλλος to refer to quartz of any type, though mostly meaning rock crystal. Today, this variety of quartz is also called ‘pure quartz’ or ‘clear quartz’. Ancient Greeks were not the only nation who believed the mineral was some form of permanently petrified ice. Ancient Romans, medieval Europeans, Native Americans - they all believed in it. It was only the 17th century when people found out rock crystal had nothing in common with frozen water.

горный хрусталь
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that rock crystal was a popular means of protection against summer heat. Mineral balls were kept in houses and used to chill drinks or cool one’s hands. Nobility particularly favoured dishware made of the transparent stone because of the legend, according to which Olympic gods had drunk wine from crystal flasks only.

Rock crystal is a symbol of eternity and everlasting beauty in world literature. For instance, Snow White was lying in a crystal coffin that was keeping her alive while waiting for the prince to come. Clear quartz also made its way through symbolism into some secret societies, of which Freemasonry is probably the most well-known.

горный хрусталь
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

In olden days, rock crystal was thought to possess supernatural powers. People used it as a material for crafting magic balls that were supposed to tell the future. With time, sorceresses who looked into crystal balls have become inseparably linked with them. It is no wonder they are even named now crystal-gazers!

Due to high optical characteristics, rock crystal found use in the production of lenses. The Greeks lit the Olympic flame with their help while the Chinese manufactured eyewear and magnifying glasses.

горный хрусталь
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Antibacterial properties of the mineral were first taken advantage of in Tibet, where warriors’ wounds were treated by sunlight passing through the stone. Rock crystal, in this case, acted as a UV transparent lens that directed a beam of ultra-violet rays at diseased skin area. By exposing skin to the light tissue regeneration processes were more effective, bacteria died, and wounds did not fester.

Feng shui, a Chinese traditional practice, claims that rock crystal can fill the place with peace and affluence. For this purpose, a stone sample must be placed near a window or in the middle of a room.

горный хрусталь
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Transparent crystals of pure quartz are rarely found defectless. Most specimens have subsurface cracks, vughs, gas or liquid bubbles. Thereby perfect-looking samples are of high value to jewellers. One of the most expensive items ever made of rock crystal is presumably a bath-tub designed by an Italian company Baldi. It was carved from a solid 10-ton piece of Amazon rock crystal and sold for US $1 million. This masterpiece is now a real decoration of a private villa in Dubai.

горный хрусталь
Фото © httpsbeautifulmag-lifestyle.com