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Hello all you rock heads. I have now, twice this week, heard of people who have or have seen desert diamonds. What are they? The ones I have seen are clear and can be cut. Look clear and almost like a clear topaz?

Can you help me hear I am drowning......Barb

Elmer McElreath
I don't know if this is the same as a couple or so found in N. Ga.
Accident or providence, who knows, but diamonds or gold is where you find it. Keep treading water.
There are Pecos Diamonds in SE New Mexico. The one's I've seen are cloudy, though. The Herkimer Diamonds (NY) can be much clearer. I've heard of Arkimer(?) Diamonds from Hot Springs, Arkansas, which can also be very clear. All double terminated quartz crystals. I'll bet that's the tip of the iceberg- Quartz is just about everywhere.
jay bates
Never heard of desert diamonds. Probably some name some dealer applied to some quartz crystals he or she wanted to get rid of.
Donna N
I typed in Desert Diamonds on search and came up with information saying that a company was formed with the name of Desert Diamonds, being distributed out of Canada, and the history of them is written under their home site. Apparently found in the Saudi Arabian desert if the article is fact.
They list this website to refer to also:

If you are seeing the diamonds set in jewelry and not the rough diamonds this may be source of information.
Donna N
correction: the diamond is simulated and this is what is on the home site.."expatriates spend many hours of their leisure time searching the Arabian Desert for"..or just type in Desert Diamond in search and check out the site in its whole.

copied from site:

Our Team

Join the Team
About Us

It was in 1996 in Saudi Arabia that Sally Cowley, the founder and managing director of Desert Diamonds™ International was first introduced to a Desert Diamond. Expatriates spend many hours of their leisure time searching the Arabian Desert for the ultimate treasure - a Desert Diamond. Sally had been extremely successful selling ornate costume jewelry and was highly energized by the excitement that jewelry products created with the ladies. Because of the popularity of the natural Desert Diamond, she invested significant time and research in perfecting the diamond simulant to ensure the brilliance, fire and longevity of the stone and our magnificent Desert Diamonds™ range of jewelry was born.

In 2001, our daughter and her family moved to Saudi Arabia. Within only months of settling in the Middle East, she was introduced to the Desert Diamonds™ by some new friends. During our daughter's first visit back home she showed us these magnificent Desert Diamonds™. Soon this unique jewelry became the most popular gift that she would bring back for special events and occasions. Every year after seeing and hearing through mutual friends and family, more and more were requesting our daughter to bring them Desert Diamonds™.

After seeing the success and excitement generated by this extraordinary jewelry, I signed on to be the first Authorized Distributor to bring Desert Diamonds™ into Canada in the spring of 2004. Within only the first six months of introducing the product in Canada, we have received fantastic feedback and response from everyone who has seen the product. We are thrilled to be part of this exciting new concept in jewelry as a Desert Diamonds™ distributor for Canada.

For more information on Sally Cowley and Desert Diamonds™ International, please check out their web-site at

Jack Cole
Plush Oregon Sun stone nick name is Plush Diamond

Don Peck
Did everyone see the announcement in today's paper that the 128 carat Tiffany diamond is going on display at the Smithsonian? It is a yellow stone, about four times the sizes of the Hope diamond, is the largest in the US, and is set in a brooch. If you saw Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, she was wearing it; one of only two times it has been worn.
Don M
Desert Diamonds are just another name for "paste" or imitation diamonds. Yes they are pretty but are man-made and have nothing to do with the desert. I spet a lot of years in Saudi and I can tell you the geology is just wrong for the formation of diamonds along with the fact that there never was a glacier there to bring in eratics. This is just another marketing scheme.
If u want some real diamonds, open your wallet and get out the credit card!
Charles Frank

"Desert Diamonds" (referred to locally as "Al Quysumah" diamonds) are natural, clear, semi-precious stones of the same micro crystalline mineral family as amethysts (purple or clear), smoky topaz smoky yellow to dark brown), and citrine (pale to lemon yellow). They get there name from the Saudi village Al Quysumah, situated just southeast of Hafer Al Batin (near KKMC). This village sits in a great gravel basin known as the Ad Dibdibah Palm, which stretches north for hundred of miles into Jordan. Ad Dibdibbah is believed by Geologist to be the delta of a prehistoric drainage area for a great river having its headwaters near Al Madinah in western Saudi Arabia.

In the ancient days when the oil deposits of the Saudi Peninsula were being formed, heavy rains washed stones of igneous and metamorphic rock and quartz from the Hijaz Mountains toward what is now the Arabian Gulf. In the process, "Desert Diamonds" were deposited near Al Qaysumuh. These stones can be found in other areas of Saudi Arabia, within a narrow band running from within a few miles of the Iraq border in the north, to a southern location about fifty miles south of Al Kharj. The major source of these gemstones is the Al Quaysumah region to the north.

Desert Diamonds are very high-grade quartz material with physical properties that produces an appearance seen in the expensive carbon based diamonds obtained from Africa and Siberia. Desert Diamonds, unlike other natural precious stones and some synthetics are stable. They do not discolor or become brittle and crack as they age, they are forever.

Most of us think of diamonds in terms of "carats." A carat is best thought of as a "density and weight" measured in terms of hardness. The "Mohs" scale sets carbon diamonds at "10" (the hardest). Soft semi-precious stone azurites in the amethyst family have a hardness of 3.5 to 4.0. Relatively speaking. The Desert Diamonds have about the same hardness as aquamarines, both rating about 7.5 on the Mohs scale.

We have found that the best time to search for these diamonds is in the early morning or late afternoon when the angle of the sun helps identify the rough stones by causing them to give off a soft glow as the sun light passes through them.

Prices per carat for Desert Diamonds vary as a function of the Gemologist's prices in Bangkok, mark-up, quality, and bargaining. In making a purchase of Desert Diamonds look for characteristics like clarity and cut. To ensure that you are getting a quality Desert Diamond, make your purchases from someone you know or will show you receipts from a jeweler or gemologist indicating where the stones were found. A note of caution: There has been some belief the Desert Diamond could be heat treated to bring out more luster. On our trips to Bangkok we've checked with a number of jewelers to see if the Desert Diamond could in fact be heat-treated? We were told by the jewelers, "if someone tells you they heat treat, what they really do is swap your beautiful Desert Diamonds with Quebec Zirconium." Just be careful!

Desert Diamond Dude

I have some cut and uncut dessert diamonds. I was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1985 and picked them up in the dessert they would cut them for us in town. Any one interested in buying them. Let me know.
I was stationed twice in the Kingdom with the military with most of it in the Eastern Province. During my three years there, had the fortunate opportunity to meet up with and socialize with a number of expatriates, mainly from the U.K. We would go on Hash runs on the weekends in the desert and sometimes camp out. One of the campouts was in an area where "desert diamonds" were to be found. I had never heard of them before this time. Found a handful of them, took them to Bangkok to get polished, and brought them back. They have been in a box in my closet since around 1988. Finally got them out and let my sister take a pick of them for earings. Today she got them set in a nice setting. Glad she got some use for them. Not sure what they are worth.
Also about an hour east of Riyadh and the back road to Hofuf is an area where you can find shark teeth. The desert is an amazing place if you take the time to notice.
Anyone know the worth of them?
Mike Streeter
Hi Bob,

Nice story. From what I learned from the NET, Desert Diamonds are small quartz crystals found scattered on the Arabian desert. Most are cloudy, but a few are translucent to glassy. Since they are just plain quartz, they are not worth a whole lot from a monetary perspective, although it appears there are unscrupulous hucksters who hype them into something valuable just to make a buck. But as a memory and gift, they can be priceless.

Al O
Hello All,

Thanks Mike for putting me in a better frame of mind. Your reminder that a personally found stone, cut and set, is priceless. And hucksters abound. I will tone down some of my
nature as a rascal as I repond to many postings about desert diamonds. I ask that no one take personal offense. I say that as I took some time to peruse the net and saw hucksterism, bad science and bad gemology at it's finest all mixed with matketing at it's worst. And Mike, if I get overboard here, please hit your "delete this mess magic button" and get rid of it.

In the colloquial use of desert diamonds, they are alluvial quartz found in the desert of Saudi Arabia. I have seen several uncut stones a friend found there. And, as Mike so insightfully reminded me, they can be "priceless" memories. And, they are quartz.

Moving on in response to Barb-Osh, et al, and what is really going on here, maybe I can shed some light.

Here, I intend no derogatory comments against Desert Diamonds as a company. They are quite likely a fine product. That said, I haven't determined what the stones in Desert Diamond brand jewelry are. Their website indicates that they are diamond simulants. So, they could be a lot of things from synthetic (man made) to simulant (natural) posing as "diamonds". At least they aren't just saying they are diamonds. I'll give them high credit for that.Interesting how the company registered "Desert Diamonds" as a trademark. What that means is if I started selling real "desert diamonds" from Saudi Arabia, I could open myself to a lawsuit, even if the product they are selling aren't real quartz found in Saudi Arabia and known for a long time before her company under the nickname Desert Diamonds.

As to the worth of real Saudi desert diamonds, they aren't worth any more than any other facet grade quartz other than the priceless experience of finding them, having them cut and set, and wearing them personally or giving them as a gift. Now that can be a truly priceless life adventure.

As to the Mystique of real Desert Diamonds, a lot of hype is running it's course on the internet. Remember, original Rhinestones were actually quartz found along the Rhine River and cut by apprentices learning the cutting trade in Germany. So, maybe they should be called Rhine Diamonds. Unfortunately they became confused with paste, a really cheap synthetic. Now, rhinestones have a bad name. And what about the mystique of Herkimer diamonds or Douglass diamonds?

As to any gemstone being forever. I hope and think that we all realize that this is more of a marketing slogan than factual science. Diamonds can be destroyed. Early miners in Africa used to test "diamonds" by wacking them with a hammer. If it broke, it wasn't a diamond. So, no harm done because that possible valuable chunk wasn't a diamond. "Scientifically" proven because it broke! These miners didn't understand the difference between brittle and hard. Diamonds are naturally brittle and can crack. To say they cleave would be more appropriate but to the layperson, they crack. Diamonds can also be burned. A jeweler's torch set up high can burn a diamond if held to it long enough. I did this once to a small and crappy diamond just to prove it can be done. And if the kimberlite in a diamond pipe doesn't move fast enough to the surface, the diamonds will revert to graphite. So much for forever.

References to real desert diamonds placing them in the amethyst family are not technically correct. And note Charles, you got it right. They are in the same family. Other sites I read got it wrong. Amethyst is purple and is in the quartz family. Clear Quartz is just that: clear. It is in the quartz family also. So is citrine. Smokey topaz is not in the quartz family. However, as a left over from a time no one knew better, topaz and quartz were often confused. Check any mineralogy text. Quartz is SiO2. Topaz is Al2(OH,F)(SiO4). Much of what is sold today as smokey topaz is really smokey quartz. Citrine is sometimes passed off as topaz. Sadly, it is a good way to overcharge topaz prices for less valuable smokey quartz or citrine. Caveat emptor! I have a 10 pound chunk of mostly facet grade smokey quartz sitting right by my computer. Fancy paperweight! I would not be happy to sell it to you as smokey topaz. I might be a loud mouthed opinionated rascal but I am not a snake oil salesman.

As to carbon based diamonds. Real diamonds are not carbon based, they are carbon. This may sound picayune, but it is a clear statement based on fact. There is really no such thing as a diamond made of anything else but carbon. I say this to warn anyone about not being taken in by fancy talk. This brings to mind the transparent aluminum Scotty made his whale tank out of in Star Trek. If we had transparent aluminum we wouldn't (or shouldn't) call it aluminum based diamond.

One of the articles out there on the web referred to cubic zirconia (CZ) as zircon. Not really. Zircon is a tetragonal naturally occouring mineral. CZ is a man made cubic material.

Carat weight, density, and specific gravity get tossed about as if they are synonymous. And these three things have little to do with hardness. They are four very distinct concepts. I won't go into it here, but if someone starts tossing these words around as glibly as I saw them used on the net, beware! The person doing this might not know much else about what they are talking about. It may sound good but it is just sales pitch. If you need to know, get a good textbook and read up on the definitions of each term. And no offense Charles. I think I found the website you got your information from. I think you took this information on good faith. As a geologist and gemologist I can tell you differently.

And I could go on about the differences between indices of refraction and dispersion in light of standards of optical mineralogy and the behavior of light in crystalline and noncrystalline materials. I will only say that optical tecniques with a polarized microscope take time and effort to learn but it is a way cool experience.

Putting all the physical concepts I have brought up here, I can say that with a lot of experience (forty some years as a student of mineralogy and gemology) I can now often tell a diamond, CZ, and quartz apart with nothing more than a 10X loupe. I am not bragging. When my suspicions get aroused I do use other testing techniques to confirm my suspicion and I am right often enough to get an A if it was a test. As proof to a customer, I can and will use several other proper scientific tests to stand behind my identification of a stone.

Be careful out there folks. If you don't know jewelry, know your jeweler! Be willing to pay a truly qualified jeweler a few dollars more than grab a good deal that turns out bad. I don't want to see you taken in. And Barb-Osh, thank you for asking so you don't have to drown in misinformation. It can be a complex subject but gemstone awareness can be your best friend to avoid getting taken in.

Best Regards,
Al O
Joe D.
Al O,

I did all those things you mentioned to make pretty sure I was getting real Diamonds for my wife's anniversary ring a few years ago. I ended up buying 3 nice ones and having my jeweler make a nice setting for them. Apparently I did more testing on the Diamonds then I did on the people I thought were honest and trustworthy. About 5 years later we found out these jewelers were buying stolen stones and getting them re-cut, then selling them to unsuspecting clients.

I asked a few knowledgeable police friends about these Diamonds and they said to forget it and just be glad we got a great price and excellent Diamonds. They said there was no way of tracing the re-cut Diamonds after so long and they didn't put any numbers on the Diamonds back then either for identification. They never tracked down the jewelers either. they got out of "Dodge" when they suspected things were getting a bit hot in the "neighborhood".

Speaking of Topaz did you ever study why the Topaz from the Thomas range, out in Utah, will turn clear or pink, when exposed to light, depending on which side of the range they come from. The West slope turn clear and the East slope turn pink. They all start out as sherry colored. The only thing I can figure is that the East slope has much more radioactive materials close by then the West slope. You don't want to carry around any of those yellow rocks, from the middle in to the East side of the Thomas range, in your pockets for long. The "Rainbow" stone from the middle of the range is quite pretty but also still quite hot, as radiation goes.

I have collected Herkimer like Quartz all over North America but those from the herkimer area are the brightest. Its nice of mother Nature to pre-cut and polish these beauties for us fellows who don't do faceting very well. "Desert Diamonds" are about in the league of "Cape May" Diamonds and no where near Herkimer material.

I found the location of those Quartz crystals we talked about last year, that I was finding on the roads of that game commission land, and even got permission to collect at the quarry they came from. Then a visiting officer of the corporation found out I was collecting there and put the end to that. Of course I could always collect there illegally but that just wouldn't be in me, even though the supervisor told me I could collect there on the weekends if I wished. I almost picked up a nice representable piece of Anthracite Coal from the site when I visited there the last time. It was about four foot long and very nicely shaped. I took a few smaller pieces instead. You see they didn't even harvest the Coal but just piled it in remote places that would be out of the way. Coal just makes bad aggregate stone for road building.

Joe D.
jay bates
The sherry topaz from the south slope of Topaz Mountain will turn clear when exposed to sunlight. I have kept those I found out of the sunlight.

I have collected facet grade quartz from the Himalaya Mine in San Diego County and Lake County "diamonds" from Lake County California. I also have some nice facet grade clear sunstones from the sunstone mines in Oregon and some nice rose quartz with facetable sections from California. Have I ever faceted them? No. They are just not worth the effort faceting as some of the cheap amethyst and other colored stones from Brazil and other parts of the planet.

I recently acquired a number of man-made rubies and emeralds from John Chatham. I have sorted them into those that are facetable and those that are not which will be placed in a optical lens of a kaleidoscope along with some African and Montana garnets, tiny benitoites and precious opal pieces from Virgin Valley. The Montana garnets, precious opal and benitoites were all self collected. The outside is going to be covered with a number of tumbled pieces, many I collected and tumbled, arranged in intarsia patterns. It should be a unique piece of personalized art which I will highly value; more so then some of the stones I have faceted.
The Pecos diamonds from SE NM can be turned clear by simply baking them in an outdoor oven. I forget the exact temp, but I think it's 450 or so.... The folks at NM Tech mineralogical dept can probably give you the exact info.
I say outdoor because when you bake them, the oil they contain is released, and that's what's making them look "dirty".
Just finished faceting a 2.20ct trillion cut on a 'Desert Diamond'. Remarkable flash and reflection. These were found by a soldier stationed in Saudi and hand delivered to me. The rough stone has the appearance of being sand blasted and yellowish. The cut stone has no hint of yellow and has a crisp pristine white flash. It really did seam to cut and polish differently than other Quartz (Oxide based) I have cut, and acted very similar to an Apache Tear (Alkali based)I faceted a couple of weeks ago?? All in all, I am really happy with the stone as I'm sure the customer will be and would recommend cutting this material and compare for yourself! Any kind of Quartz faceted is worth much more than any synthetic material. The pictures are of the rough and the finished stone.


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Al O
Hello Brent,

I am not sure what you are referring to in regards to quartz as Oxide based and an apache tear as alkali based. SiO2 is an oxide but is treated independently from other oxides due to its importance in the silicate minerals. This deals with the crystal structure of minerals. So, quartz is a silicate mineral.

Alkaline is a measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acids. Geologically, this is often related to carbonates that can affect alkalinity in an environment, even in a melt. Obsidian occours often in calc-alkaline rhyolites. This refers to an environment of formation, not the chemical composition of the obsidian.

Obsidian is SiO2 from an alkaline environment rock melt that cooled too quickly to take on a crystalline structure and is said to be amorphous, or without form. Obsidian is very much like glass and is often referred to as volcanic glass. Due to the lack of crystalline structure obsidian is a bit softer than crystalline quartz and as such will cut and polish differently than quartz. Why the desert diamonds seemed to cut and polish similar to obsidian I do not know. I would have expected it to be the same as faceting any gem quality crystalline quartz.

Best Regards,
Al O
Hi Al,
Thanks for the education! When cutting the Apache Tear, the stone was oily and tough to polish using cerium oxide (CeO2), which I use to polish all other quartz materials. I had to polish the Desert Diamond the same as I had the Apache Tear, using a blue Spectra Ultra lap charged with Alumina Oxide (AeO2) to eliminate the smear or streaks the Cerium was leaving? Your info on 'Alkaline' is interesting. Makes me wonder if any mineral in an Alkaline environment will carry traces of it throughout the stone, in this case, the quartz crystals (aka Desert Diamond) being subject to Alkaline and oil throughout its growing period making it slightly different in composition.

Thanks for the post Al,
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