How Many Different Types of Crystals Are There in the World?

different types of crystals

To understand the significance of crystals on Earth, it’s important to realize that scientists believe the Earth’s core is made up of 1,500 miles of crystals.1 This illustrates the beauty of crystal and how organic it is as a resource.

However, one of the more intriguing questions a person may have involves the various types of crystal. Remember, crystal as a term is more of an umbrella term given to a long list of crystallized materials. It’s best to understand the nuances between these different types, how they come about, and what makes them unique. Highlighted below is more information on the different types of crystals around the world.

Defining Crystals

In general, the process of forming crystals revolves around the cooling of liquids and their eventual hardening. This is a simple explanation for a complex molecular process, however, it sheds light on how crystallization works in nature.

large purple quartz crystal surrouned by other rocks on white backgroundRemember: crystallization has to occur in the right conditions with the right elements. When the crystallization process occurs, it requires the gathering of molecules to produce a certain level of stability. It’s this stability that causes the materials to harden and become what is known as a crystal. Each crystal that is formed will have a unique appearance that is going to depend on the element that has changed and how much of it has changed.2 This determines the shape, size, weight, and circumference of the crystal.

A good example of the crystallization process would be the formation of cooling magma. The slow process can often lead to crystallization. This is when crystals such as emeralds, rubies, and diamonds are formed. Another example would be the evaporation of water, which can lead to what human beings know as salt.

From a visible perspective, crystals can look unique depending on how they are formed with some being triangles, rectangles, or squares. These shapes are dictated by the elements and nothing else, which is important to note. Once the atoms come together, they act as a catalyst for the final hardened state. Some of the shapes a person may notice include hexagons, tetragons, and trigonal shapes.

Types of Crystals

Let’s move to the heart of the topic because it is an important one. In general, there are four types of crystals: molecular, ionic, metallic, and covalent.

These types are split based on how the crystals are formed, how they look, and other physical details such as the number of points. With this in mind, the crystals are split between the groups and find a spot in one of the four categories as determined by experts.

While defining and categorizing these crystals, experts not only look at the size and shape, they also look at the finer details, such as the points in the lattice or bonds that are developed between multiple crystal particles. All of these details are used to come up with a final judgment.

Of course, as mentioned before, crystals are never going to be alike, which means there are many differences between crystals even when they’re in the same category. However, the classification process is more dependent on a set of foundational rules which have been established through decades of research on crystallization processes.

Ionic Crystals

Beginning with ionic crystals, these are built around the premise of a hardened surface and are a combination of two individual atoms. If these crystals were to be melted, (they can withstand tremendous temperatures) then the resulting liquid can be used as a conductor.

This type of crystal is an excellent conductor because it is designed to maintain a balance of positively and negatively charged ions. This means there is a balance between the atoms in the composition, which make it far more likely to work with electricity. However, this also means it is prone to breaking down depending on how it is used or stored. Unless the two particles are able to remain in the same state, they will break down.

Molecular Crystals

With molecular crystals, you are looking at a far softer surface in comparison to ionic crystals. This means they are not meant to handle vigorously high temperatures and can also be molded without a lot of trouble. This has a lot to do with the weaker particles. In this case, the crystals do not require the fusion of two atoms and can be formulated with only one.

amber, clear and pink quartz on wooden backgroundCovalent Crystals

With this type of crystal, it is all about the points on the actual surface (i.e. lattice network). This is an important differentiator when being compared to the other types. Along with having more points, covalent crystals are also known for being the largest of the four types. These crystals are used because of their durability in extreme conditions.

Metallic Crystals

With the final type of crystal, it’s important to look at the intricacies of metallic crystals. This is a crystal that is formed with the presence of two metallic bonds. It is these bonds which hold the crystal together and make sure it doesn’t lose its shape. In general, these are often used for industrial purposes because they are great conductors for both electricity and heat.

Along with this distinction, they are also renowned for having a noticeable sheen that is unique to metallic crystals only.


It’s important to note there is ongoing research in this field of work, and a lot of new information continues to pour in. Since the crystallization process is an integral part of how the planet functions, it maintains a spot as a foundational piece in every aspect of life.

Whether it comes in the form of natural salt or a natural conductor, the significance of crystals cannot be stressed enough. These are the four different types of crystals, with each one having a prominent role on the planet.

Photo credits:  DiKiYaqua/, HollyMazour/, MonikaWisniewska/, mykeyruna/

Taylor James

By Taylor James

Taylor is an aromatherapy enthusiast who’s favorite use of essential oils is through a portable diffuser created by MONQ. In her spare time, you can find her enjoying nature whether it be on a lake or in a forest.

Favorite MONQ blend: Forest

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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