This Is What You Need to Know About Crystals, the Wellness Trend Sweeping Instagram Right Now
Let’s clear up something first: You probably have a crystal in your hand right now. There are crystals that power your smartphone, that drive your television and microwave, that sit in your watches and tell the time. If you salt your lunch with the fancy pink Himalayan salt, which I very much hope you do, then you can say you eat crystals, too.
But when we talk about the rise of crystals we’re not talking about those hidden, mundane ones. We’re talking about the sudden visibility of crystals, their movement from the fringes of the New-Age hippie scene and right into the centre of popular culture. Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan, of course. So is Miranda Kerr (she keeps crystals in her bra and has a giant one in her backyard), Victoria Beckham (she lined a recent runway show with black obsidian crystals), Jenna Dewan Tatum, who professes to have more than 200 in her home, Gisele Bundchen, who calls crystals her most prized possessions and Adele, who performs with a crystal clutched in her hands and chalks up bad performances to the moments when she doesn’t have a crystal on her person.
Crystals are mainstream now. Your best friend probably has a crystal in her handbag, or on her bedside table. Google searches for crystals are up by 40 per cent. Mardani Fine Minerals, one of the largest crystal boutiques, based out of New York City, reported a net profit of up to $55 million in 2017. But you don’t have to go to a specialist store to buy a crystal anymore. You can buy them from Goop, or any number of high-end boutiques.
Their fans say that crystals contain stored energy that can be transported through touch or ingestion or ritual. Scientists, however, disagree, arguing that the energy can only be used for specific purposes, like powering that smartphone of yours, for example. A 2001 study from Goldmith’s College, London, found that the impact of crystals was largely a placebo one. The mystics would respond that crystals as an ancient phenomenon are largely unknowable. And round and round this particular psychological discussion would go.
“I don’t know,” Colleen McCann, a shaman based in Los Angeles and the author of Crystal RX, a book on crystal healing, says when asked about why crystals have such a bad reputation. “Bad PR?” she laughs. “I’m joking, but I think that mysticism has a certain look to it right now. But the interesting thing is that whether they’re out in the open about it or behind closed doors, people who are using crystals like those I work with are VPs of companies, people who work [in finance], business owners and CEOs… I think it’s time to rebrand mysticism and how it looks and how we talk about it.”
McCann has a fun, zeitgeisty way of talking about crystals courtesy of her past life—literally, a past career—as a fashion stylist. She calls clear quartz the “black skinny jean” of the crystal world because it goes with everything, amplifying the effects of whatever you place it with. She encourages newcomers to the crystal world to seek out rose quartz (love for self and others), black obsidian for grounding and protection, amethyst (“the vampire slayer,” she says, because it kills bad vibes), citrine, the stone of personal power and business and lapis lazuli. “This is such an important crystal for where we are right now,” she muses, “especially in the women’s movement. It’s the stone of communication. So when we try to speak the truth, we work with lapis lazuli.”
You can use crystals in a variety of different ways, the most simple of which is through touch. Like Adele grasping that stone on stage when she performs, wisdom has it that the best way to transmit the energy from a stone to yourself is by holding it or keeping it against your skin. (That’s why Miranda Kerr keeps a rose quartz crystal in her bra, to ensure that the love vibrations are always near her heart). Other innovations, like the infusion of crystals into essential oils and water to be sprayed and drunk, or crystal combs that can be passed through your hair, follow similar logic.
When asked why she thinks crystal therapy is more popular now than ever before—even though there is no scientific evidence that they do anything at all—McCann gives a broad answer. “I think there are more people on the planet opening for whatever reason to that realm,” she says, noting, too, that crystals have been used in healing for centuries and centuries, dating back to Ancient Egypt.
But if we had to take a guess it would be that crystals can be a respite from the world we live in today, the news headlines and the global scandals and the political turmoil. Crystals, like all forms of spirituality, offer a narrative in which there is something bigger than us.
But better, because with a crystal you can touch it. Or put it in your bra. Or tuck it in your pocket to hold onto when you need it. Or keep it hidden in the back of your handbag. Even if it might be just a placebo effect, it can still be empowering in its own way.