Early civilizations used crystal sands of quartz, garnet, diamonds and other crystals as abrasives to saw blocks of rock and stone, fashion jewelry and ornamentation and create specialized engravings. During the end of the 19th century science began mineral synthesis and growing crystals synthetically in the laboratory. Synthetic crystals proved to be more abrasive than their natural counterparts; being stronger, cheaper and easier to obtain, synthetic crystals quickly found a strong market in many industries.
Diamond Crystals and Dust for Cutting
Diamond bits are used in industrial saws and ropes for cutting stone blocks and ornamental stones. Drill bits studded with diamond crystals are now used on oil well drills. Jewelers and lapidary artisans use saws loaded with diamonds, copper laps with diamond dust and diamond polishing powder, especially for use with hard gemstones such as jade and sapphire.
Watches and Semiconductors
Synthetic quartz, ruby and sapphire are all used in the watch industry. Rolex watch glass is made of scratch-resistant, colorless synthetic sapphire. Synthetic ruby has been used for making hard bearings in watches and other mechanical instruments. Synthetic quartz crystal controls the time and operates by a silicon chip. Pure quartz sand is used to make silicon metal, a semiconductor that brought about the transistor and the development of microelectronics, integrated circuits and the silicon chip.
Invented in 1960, this red light beam produces an intense light with minimal divergence. It has many industrial uses. It is found in CD players and long-distance telephones, as well as in surveying and microsurgery. College professors and others find the tiny ruby laser pointer to be beneficial in their lectures. High-energy lasers can cut through steel plates and drill holes through diamonds.