The luminescence emission of quartz is used in optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL), however the precise origins of the emission are unclear. A suite of quartz samples were analysed using X-ray excited optical luminescence (XEOL). Radiation dose effects were observed whereby the UV emissions (3.8 and 3.4 eV) were depleted to the benefit of the red emission (1.9–2.0 eV). Samples were excited at ∼7 keV. Understanding why some quartz emit light more brightly than others will increase the efficiency and precision of OSL analyses.