Gold-streaked Quartz: All that Glitters and Shines

Quartz is often considered a lower-priced and forgettable gemstone. However, there is one spectacular variation that stands out from all the rest. Quartz gold, prized by prospectors during the California Gold Rush, is now a hot jewelry trend because it manages to combine American history with modern opulence into one attention-getting package.

Gold in quartz? How does this happen? Due to geologic processes, some quartz deposits are streaked with veins of gold. When this quartz reaches the surface, that telltale glitter attracts attention, usually by gold prospectors.

This is one of the rarest stones in jewelry. During gold mining, the quartz is typically discarded. It’s unusual for whole stones to be preserved, and even rarer for them to be high-quality. The best gold-streaked quartz is at least 15% gold, although higher percentages certainly exist. The metal may appear in the form of either bands or flecks. The stone itself should be a clean white or pale color without any iron staining.

The Rich and Opulent History of Gold Quartz

The people of the First Nations would occasionally find pieces of gold-streaked quartz and incorporate them into jewelry. Later on, the population of Alaska enlisted the help of native peoples like Chief Kowee to track down reliable sources of quartz gold.  This helped kick off the Alaskan gold rush of the 1860s, which came right on the heels of the California Gold rush when gold fever was at a worldwide high.  Much of the gold-bearing quartz jewelry produced in that time came from Alaska as the state is rich in quartz veins.

Back during the gold rush, the quartz was typically crushed to make it easier to extract the gold. However, competent jewelers saw the potential for these creamy white stones streaked with the most precious of metals. They offered a high price, sometimes twice the value of the gold itself, for unblemished stones. These artisans would then work the gold-bearing quartz into amazing pieces that became a status symbol throughout North America.

History Meets Modern Life with Gold Quartz Jewelry

The fine workmanship and history of these beautiful antiques have made them a popular collector’s item. One gold quartz ring that appeared on The Antiques Roadshow was appraised at $2,400.

Fortunately, there’s no need to empty out the bank account to have a piece of your own. Modern jewelers have responded to popular demand and created classic- and modern-styled accessories including:

  • Rugged, chunky stones set in men’s rings
  • Refined, pale or clear stones in women’s rings
  • Eyecatching pendants
  • Unique and complementary earrings; no two stones are alike
  • Bangles set with a colorful array of different kinds of quartz
  • Classic cufflinks
  • Quartz gold inlays in small jewelry boxes or fountain pens