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Brandberg Quartz: Namibia's Jurassic Jewel

Brandberg quartz is a unique variety of quartz that comes from the Brandberg mountain region of Namibia. Small scale mining of Brandberg quartz began in the 1980s, although recorded knowledge of the quartz dates back to 1936. There is also strong evidence to show that the quartz was utilised by local native tribes for probably thousands of years. These unique and exquisite crystals are often water clear, and are found as single crystals, either as a loose floater or on a matrix, or in clusters. They are sometimes double terminated, often with inclusions and phantoms, and water bubbles are sometimes present. Scepters are also found in certain deposits. They can be clear quartz, amethyst or smokey. Many Brandberg quartz are master healer quartz with Dow, transmitter, channeller or Isis terminations. They will often have time link faces and sometimes diamond windows.

The Brandberg Mountain is situated in the sub-saharan desert of central Namibia and is visible from space. A circular mass of granite rock, with a summit reaching over 2500 metres in height, the mountain formed during extensive volcanic activity during the time of the split of west Gondwana, when Africa and south America separated towards the end of the Jurassic period, around 130 million years ago.

The German name Brandberg meaning burnt mountain, comes from the red colour of the rocks, which are highlighted at sunrise. However, the natives of that area, the Herero, refer to the mountain as Omukuruwaro, which means fire mountain. The mountain is also known as the ‘Mountain of the Gods’. The Brandberg mountain itself is a sacred mountain and a designated national monument. It is famous for its ancient rock art, and notably, the White Lady. Over 45,000 individual rock paintings have been found in the thousands of caves and rock overhangs of the mountain.

Hunter gatherer communities once inhabited the upper areas of the Brandberg mountain, and quartz and other artefacts have been found by archaeologists in recent years. The ancient rock art enables insight into the social and cultural lives of the communities that once inhabited the mountain. The indigenous people believe that their departed ancestors reside on the mountain and they have honoured them through ritual and ceremony for centuries. Even today, special ceremonies are performed to honour the ancestors and also to ask for forgiveness for trespassing on the sacred mountain that has in recent years become a tourist hotspot due to the rock art and historical archaeological interest.

It is now forbidden to collect crystals from this sacred mountain, and the quartz for sale is mined in other areas of the mountain region, such as the Goboboseb mountains. Therefore, when we refer to Brandberg quartz it is from the region, never from the sacred mountain.

The Goboboseb mountains to the West of the Brandberg sit in an arid and stoney landscape and stretch over 1100 square kilometres. The igneous rock is made up of interbedded basalts and quartz latites formed over 132 million years ago. Most of the quartz comes from the base of the mountain, which is made up of basalt flows 5 to 30 metres thick. The amygdule, the pocket that houses the quartz, was formed by the gas bubbles during the lava flow and can range from very small to up to over one metre across.