Have you ever considered the power of crystals? Crystals are sought after for their beauty and decorative appeal, but how much do you really know about these precious stones?
In preparation for the Central Coast Lapidary Club’s Annual show, we have taken a detailed look into the history and power of crystals, and researched how the experts recommend you choose and use them.
What are crystals?
In broadly scientific terms, crystals are a collection of atoms organised in a “highly ordered” way that is referred to as crystal lattice. Almost all elements naturally occurring on earth can form crystals, but a common component of the crystals we know and love is silicon.
Crystals are formed when combinations of atoms form minerals and these minerals are put under stress from pressure or temperature. The resulting stones are categorised into one of seven families, depending on their atomic lattice type. These types are cubic, triclinic, orthorhombic, monoclinic, tetragonal, trigonal or hexagonal. Some crystals grow in mineral-rich water — like salt. Others, like obsidian, are formed from cooled lava.
How can crystals be used?
As well as being used for jewellery and healing practices, many of our day to day items are actually crystals. If you have ever played in the snow, added sugar to your coffee or sprinkled salt on your hot chips, you’ve encountered and even ingested crystals. Even our bones have twisting structures of hydroxyapatite crystals in them.
We also use crystals in technology, so much so that the information age could just as easily be called the crystal age. Crystals are used in computers and smartphones, solar panels, microchips, electric guitars, microphones, watches, sonar, medical equipment, and even bombs.
Despite the fact that crystals are present in them, there will be no technological devices or snow on display at the Central Coast Gems and Treasures Show! Instead, you will find more traditional pieces. These crystals were born of the earth from pressure and molten lava or precipitated into existence. They were lovingly found, carved, polished and set to make a one of a kind item to be treasured.
Types of crystals and their meanings
Crystals can look very different on the outside, but those with the same lattice arrangement inside are called the same name. Take quartz, for example. This stone can be any colour, from opaque rose to solid black, but because it has the same geometric lattice, it’s all quartz.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular crystals and the meanings that have been bestowed upon them.
Colour: Purple to lavender
Found in: Uruguay, France, Namibia, Britain, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, India, Siberia
Chemical makeup: Silicone Dioxide. The purple colour comes from iron or manganese impurities.
Amethyst is technically a form of quartz. It is quite commonly available but is still prized as a precious stone. The Greek word “amethystos” can be translated to “not intoxicated”, and amethyst is believed to guard against drunkenness. This gemstone supports a calm mind and enhances metabolism (check out an amethyst latte recipe).
The Ancient Greeks have a far more interesting story than manganese impurities to explain why amethyst is purple in colour. According to legend, Bacchus, the God of Wine, was angry one day and decided to punish the next person he saw by setting a hoard of tigers on them. It seemed this terrible fate was set to befall a girl named Amethyst. Before the great cats could attack, the Goddess Diana came to her rescue and turned her into a clear crystal (lucky her?). Baccus, ashamed of what he had done, poured an offering of grape juice over the stone and gave amethyst its purple hue.
If you are a believer in the healing power of crystals, amethyst is best worn on the throat, heart, or placed in a family room to generate good communication and peace in the home.
Colour: Red, brown, green, purple, blue
Found in: Worldwide
Chemical makeup: Silicone Dioxide
A prolific crystal, Jasper is often used in ceremonies and rituals. It is said to unify and connect all parts of oneself and release deep emotions. It is known as an emotionally grounding stone and supports the digestive and circulatory systems.
Colour: Opaque white, grey, red, green, black. Can look multi-coloured.
Found in: Mexico, Australia, Britain, South America, Slovakia
Family: Amorphous and lacks a crystal structure. Technically a mineraloid.
Mineral makeup: Hydrous Silicon Dioxide
The colour play of opal crystals is made from diffracting light off its makeup of tiny silica spheres. Opals are quite common, but are fairly expensive and prized by mineral collectors and museums. In crystal healing practices, this stone is used to bring out joy and increase awareness of universal consciousness. Opal’s properties stimulate the thymus (an organ integral to the immune system) and support playfulness and passion.
A Dreamtime story from Central Queensland tells of two tribes engaged in a war for so long they all their weapons wore out. Undeterred, and they began to throw boulders at each other. One warrior threw a boulder so high it got stuck in the sky and exploded to reveal a multi-coloured opal. The Opal Spirit saw the fighting of the tribes and wept opal tears over the land.
Colour: Golden brown
Found in: Britain, Germany, Dominica, Poland
Family: Amorphous- amber is a solidified tree resin
Chemical makeup: No definitive chemical formula
As an organic gemstone, Amber is formed from the hardened resin of trees. It hardens over centuries and bits of plants or insects can sometimes be caught in its centre (think of Jurassic Park and that dinosaur DNA carrying mosquito).
This stone’s anaesthetic properties means specially made Amber necklaces are sometimes used to help teething babies.
As it comes from trees, Amber is said to help our connection to nature, as well as pulling disease from our cells. Crystal experts recommend you wear Amber around the neck or wrist for prolonged periods of time.
A Russian myth about Amber calls it The Singing Stone and suggests only the pure of heart can hear its song. Take a good listen to Amber next time you come across it. If you don’t hear a song, perhaps it is time to take a good look at your daily actions!
Colour: Red, pink, orange
Found in: Brazil, Russia, Australia
Chemical makeup: Manganese Silicate
Broken Hill, NSW is one of the largest sources of this little red beauty. This crystal aligns with the heart chakra and evokes love and compassion. It helps combat overwhelm and supports letting go. Rational decisions are easier to make when this stone is around. To be worn over the heart.
Found in: Worldwide
Chemical makeup: Silicone Dioxide
According to Judy Hall’s Crystal Bible, “Quartz is the most powerful healing and energy amplifier on the planet” and coating acupuncture needles in quartz can increase their effectiveness. This special stone is a storehouse and transmuter of energy, manifesting a sense of connection to all things, and increasing love and wisdom. Any condition can be aided in healing by quartz, and it can be placed anywhere on the body for increased wellness.
Long ago, clear quartz was thought to be an unmelting piece of ice. The Greeks called it “Krystallos” which was the birthplace of the word crystal.
Colour: Red, green, black, yellow, white, orange, pink
Found in: Worldwide
Chemical makeup: Variable. Usually contains Aluminium Silicate.
If you are feeling self-doubt and keep sabotaging yourself, Garnet is for you. This stone is believed to dissolve self-sabotage patterns, even if they are not understood consciously. Trust and belief in oneself are the gifts of Garnet. It can also be used to harness sexual energy and boost metabolism. The good news for jewellery lovers is Garnet is best worn over the heart, on the fingers or on the earlobes.
There are many frameworks for picking out a crystal that’s right for you. Books like The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall and Crystals: Understand and Connect to the Medicine and Healing of Crystals by Rachelle Charman are excellent resources to have in your back pocket.
These books contain comprehensive data on crystals and gems, including what emotions, diseases, and imbalances they work on. If you are new to stones, you may want to start by collecting examples of your birthstone, which can be based on your birth month or zodiac sign.
Alternatively, when looking for a crystal to treasure, you can keep an open mind and let the stones speak to you. As you wander around the displays at the Central Coast Lapidary Club Show, notice if any particular stone stands out for you and let that be your guide. You can also seek recommendations from the many experts who will be on hand to provide advice about the power of crystals.
Before you use or wear your crystal, many will tell you it’s important to cleanse it. You can choose a way that suits you.
Saltwater – Wash your crystal in the ocean. Make sure to rinse with fresh water and dry it afterwards.
Vocalising – Pick a note that feels right and harmonises to your crystal. Be sure to hold the intention of cleansing as you sing.
Herbs or incense – Burn a sage stick or frankincense incense around your crystal, blowing the smoke, over the stone.
Visualise – Imagine a waterfall flowing over the crystal, washing away any negative energy.
Every so often, repeat the process to keep your crystal clean and clear.
When you are not using your crystal, you can choose a special place to store it. If your crystal has points or layers, it’s better to store it on its own. Tumbled and smooth crystals can be stored together.
The Central Coast Gems and Treasures Show
This year’s Gems and Treasures show is expected to attract visitors from far and wide. Held on the 13th and 14th of October at the Mingara Recreation Club in Tumbi Umbi, the event will bring together lapidaries from all over Australia. Attendees will find jewellery, minerals, fossils, beading work, lapidary supplies and quality gems and stones.
Demonstrations will be given on stage throughout the day to help you understand more about crystals, their care and their powers. Perfect for a family day out, admission is free.
For more information, check out:
Find out more about the Central Coast Lapidary Club here.