A process for the preparation of crystalline silica powder from amorphous silica powder is disclosed. The water and hydroxyl content in the crystalline powder is much lower than that in the amorphous silica powder. The process involves heating the amorphous silica powder in the presence of a noble metal without the need for adding an impurity, such as an alkali crystallization promoter. Preferably, the amorphous silica powder is sol-gel derived, and a high purity silica glass product can therefore be made having a water content of less than 0.1 ppm.
 The following invention was made with Government support under contract number DE-FG-36-01-GO11013 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.