Earth's Minerals (Book)
+ How are Minerals Identified?
Color is probably the easiest property to observe. Unfortunately, you can rarely identify a mineral only by its color. Sometimes, different minerals are the same color. For example, you might find a mineral that is a gold color, and so think it is gold. But it might actually be pyrite, or “fool's gold,” which is made of iron and sulfide. It contains no gold atoms.
A certain mineral may form in different colors. Figure shows four samples of quartz, including one that is colorless and one that is purple. The purple color comes from a tiny amount of iron. The iron in quartz is a chemical impurity. Iron is not normally found in quartz. Many minerals are colored by chemical impurities. Other factors can also affect a mineral’s color. Weathering changes the surface of a mineral. Because color alone is unreliable, geologists rarely identify a mineral just on its color. To identify most minerals, they use several properties.
Quartz comes in many different colors including: (A) transparent quartz, (B) blue agate, (C) rose quartz, and (D) purple amethyst.