I am interested in identifying the properties of rocks. For example, black opal is shiny and can emit 5 different colors based on different lighting conditions. Is there a way for an amateur to be able to find out the crystal structure and understand why these different lights are being emitted?

Also is there a way to guess the chemical property of rocks based on just knowing their composition? If yes, is there something an amateur can self-learn to analyze these?

If it requires certain equipment, and I can't theoretically analyze it, I might be able to ask for permission from the chemistry department, so is there something I can do there? Although it'd be great not needing to use that instrument since getting perm is hard.

Thanks a lot!

  • $\begingroup$ Same reply as in Chemistry section ; Look up opal in Wikipedia . $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is a ver interesting question! But it is too many questions for one post. I recommend that you focus on Opal and mention what you've read so far about five different colors that will be great! You can move the rest, starting with "Also is there a way to guess..." to a new question post. This is better because each question can and will likely be answered separately and differently, and probably by different users. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


What you are asking about is mineralogy,

a subject of geology specializing in the scientific study of the chemistry, crystal structure, and physical (including optical) properties of minerals and mineralized artifacts. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.

It is an essential part of all geology courses. Allied to this is study of how rocks form, petrology.

There is a lot to learn within mineralogy and mineralogists are a specilized group of geologists.


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