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Difference Between Quartz and Calcite

Quartz vs Calcite

Quartz and calcite have many things in common but they also have many differences between them.

While Calcite is calcium carbonate, Quartz is silicon dioxide. Quartz is also a combination of oxygen and silicon.

First of all, let’s see the difference in their colours. Calcite is colourless, white and with light shades of orange, yellow, blue, red, pink, brown, black, green and gray. On the other hand, quartz comes in white, cloudy, purple, pink, gray, brown and black.

While calcite has a luster that is vitreous to resinous to dull, quartz has a glassy to vitreous luster.

Both calcite and quartz are transparent and translucent. However, cryptocrystalline is translucent to opaque.

Calcite comes in rhombohedron, scalenohedron, hexagonal and pinacoid forms. Most of the calcite minerals are trigonal and pseudo-hexagonal. Quartz is a hexagonal prism and the massive form includes globular, botryoidal and stalactitic.

While the cleavage is perfect in three directions in the case of Calcite, the cleavage in quartz is weak in the three directions.

In hardness , there are differences between the two. Quartz has a hardness of 7 on Moh’s scale whereas Calcite Marble comes with a hardness of 3 on the scale. In refractive indices, Calcite has a refractive index of 1.49 and 1.66. On the contrary, Quartz has a refractive index of 1.55.

Calcite gets its name from the Greek “chalix”. The origin of quartz is uncertain. However, it is said that Quartz was derived from the German ‘quar’.

Summary

1. While Calcite is calcium carbonate, Quartz is silicon dioxide.

2. While calcite has a luster that is vitreous to resinous to dull, quartz has a glassy to vitreous luster.

3. Both calcite and quartz are transparent and translucent. However, cryptocrystalline is translucent to opaque.

4. Quartz has a hardness of 7 on Moh’s scale whereas Calcite Marble comes with a hardness of 3 on the scale.

5. Calcite has a refractive index of 1.49 and 1.66. On the contrary, Quartz has a refractive index of 1.55.

6. While the cleavage is perfect in three directions in the case of Calcite, the cleavage in quartz is weak in the three directions.

7. While calcite has a luster that is vitreous to resinous to dull, quartz has a glassy to vitreous luster.

8. Calcite comes in colourless, white and with light shades of orange, yellow, blue, red, pink, brown, black, green and gray. On the other hand, quartz comes in white, cloudy, purple, pink, gray, brown and black.


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1 Comment

  1. Re #2 this is also #7. It is also spelt lustre.

    Re #3. Cryptocrystalline is a rock texture refering to minerals so tiny that they can hardly be seen underneath a normal microscope thus determining which is which is merely impossible unless you have a microprobe etc. Opaque refers to minerals which cut in typical thin sections of 30 microns, still disallow light to pass through in both plane and polarised light.This is based on their atomic structures. Quartz and calcite are not opaques.

    Re #4: Calcite has a hardness of 3, not marble. A rock can bear more that one type of mineral each of which will have a different hardness. The Moh’s hardness scale refers only to minerals.

    Re #6. Quartz has little/no cleavage. If broken it will not break along atomic planes as calcite does. It breaks as conchoidal fractures, similar to that of broken glass.

    Re #8: You cannot determine a mineral on colour alone as colour is based on chemical impurities.

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