Ion implantation was used to inject zinc ions into crystalline CaF2 and amorphous SiO2 substrates. Zn or ZnO nanoparticles were formed after annealing in a reducing (4% H2 + 96%Ar) or an oxidizing (10%O2 + 90% Ar ) atmosphere, respectively. When the sample was annealed in a reducing atmosphere, the absorption band at ∼ 5.3 eV for zinc implanted into SiO2 was attributed to zinc metal colloids. The absorption peak observed in the 4.3 – 4.7 eV region was due to the formation of ZnO nanocrystals, after the sample was annealed in an oxidizing environment. Both X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray photospectroscopy (XPS) were used to confirm ZnO nanocrystal formation. For zinc implanted into CaF2, the as-formed ZnO nanocrystals were aligned with their  axes parallel to the  axis of the CaF2. Photoluminescence (PL) spectra showed UV and green emission from the zinc-implanted silica samples annealed under an oxygen atmosphere; however, no green emission was observed for ZnO formed in a CaF2 substrate. An additional emission was observed at ∼ 420 nm which might be due to F centers in CaF2 created by ion beam damage.