The Secret Of Gemstones

Life In A Gemstone?

gemstone blog post

Artist Danny Sanchez, based in Los Angeles, is an alien landscape photographer. But the alien dimensions he sees are not far-flung asteroids or stars – within gemstones, he glimpses otherworldly spaces.

Sanchez captures the geological impurities known as "inclusions" that can develop within some crystals, such as the jagged "mountains" of the titanium-rich mineral rutile within this quartz fragment (above).

The faceted outer surface of quartz crystal gemstone itself is evident in the image above, as is the rainbow sheen of a hematite inclusion (a mineral of iron oxide) contained inside.


  • “My photos are achieved by carefully lighting an object the size of a pin head inside another object the size of a pea,” Sanchez says

The faceted outer surface of quartz crystal gemstone itself is evident in the image above, as is the rainbow sheen of a hematite inclusion (a mineral of iron oxide) contained inside.

Just small slices of the gemstone can be put into focus at any moment, as seen through a telescope. Sanchez uses a technique called focal stacking to construct his images. He takes multiple images of the crystal at slightly different focal depths, then stitches them together using software.

gemstone blog post

  •  “Depending on how much depth the scene I'm trying to capture has, it can take upwards of 120 shots to make the final product,” he says.

Inclusions of gemstone have three different ways to form. The addition often emerges first, and is then absorbed by another that gemstone. The mineral and gemstone also form at the same time.

Most interestingly, the inclusion after the gemstone will form. That occurs as fragments of impurities dispersed through the gemstone gradually move through the rock to create their own tiny crystals – while contained within the parent stone.

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  • “I could shoot opal forever – especially boulder opal, which is only ever found in Australia,” Sanchez says
Boulder opals-like the one below-form a sedimentary rock called ironstone within the fissures of large rocks. Over the aeons, in the ironstone, silica-rich water trickles into these cracks, pools and dries, and silica – the opal – spherical crystals grow slowly.

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