A druzy, whether it's golden or not, is the term that refers to a blanket of tiny, sparkling crystals often found inside a geode or an agate. The sparkling appearance of druzy (or, more commonly, drusy) is like that of spilled salt or sugar. The formation of the tiny crystals occurs after molten rock begins to quickly cool, trapping gasses within it as it solidifies. The trapped gasses cause crevices and cavities in the cooling rock. Nutrient-rich groundwater later flows through these gaps and crevices, depositing layer after layer of minerals which crystallize on top of each other. The resulting encrustation is called druzy (drusy, druse, druses). This process doesn't take days or weeks, but a few hundred or even a few thousand years.
Jewelers use the term druzy for all gemstones with the crystalline structure referred to above. Golden druzy is often of quartz, but other colored druzy gemstones were made in nature by the depositing of different minerals, which give them their unique colors of blue, pink, lemon yellow, turquoise or blue. Jewelry labeled "golden druzy," has actually been put through a special process to create the golden look.
The Vapor-Coating Process
A shiny golden druzy gets it glitzy looks thanks to a process known as vapor-coating or vapor-deposition. Vapor-coating begins in a vacuum chamber. The high-karat gold (or platinum, titanium or silver) is converted to a vapor and then mixed with oxygen. The gold-oxygen vapor settles on the crystals of the druzy and bonds with them at the molecular level.
Uses and Cleaning
The resulting golden druzy is a stunning addition to pendants, earrings and pins. While the druzy isn't necessarily fragile, it isn't recommended for use in rings or bracelets because of possible damage to the stone from banging and bumping against other surfaces. A piece of jewelry containing a golden druzy should never be buffed mechanically, as it might remove some of the extremely thin layer of gold on the crystalline surface. Cleaning with a mild detergent and water solution is recommended, as well as using a blow dryer to remove the moisture after cleaning.
Golden druzy jewelry is surprisingly affordable given the fact that a gold, vapor-coated druzy's many facets sparkle and reflect light like hundreds of tiny, golden mirrors. Prices vary, depending on what artisan or jeweler crafted the jewelry, and the quality of the setting. Druzy pendants or earrings start at $60.00 and can run as high as $300.00, as of 2009. Most often a golden druzy is vapor-coated using 24-karat gold, but some less expensive 14-karat grade pieces are available.
The popularity of druzy gemstones has increased dramatically over the last few years. The calibrated (thinly sliced sections) gemstones are graded on crystal size, lack or presence of visual flaws, the saturation of color in the natural crystals, and the coverage of crystals on the matrix (or background of the original rock on which the crystals formed). Druzy gemstones are shaped and polished instead of faceted (usually reserved for clear gems), and so are called cabochons. Shaping a cabochon is often called "cabbing."
Collage of Public Domain Images by Mary Osborne