welcome to the great crystal boom of 2017

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When Emily Satloff stops to hydrate during Pilates, she sips from a water bottle filled with rose quartz and amethyst. The goal? To add a dose of healing to her workout. “I feel calmer while drinking from my crystal water bottle,” says Satloff, the designer of jewellery line Larkspur & Hawk.

Before bedtime Nadine Abramcyk, a founder of US all-natural luxury nail salon Tenoverten,  puts her iPhone on airplane mode and covers it with a shungite crystal to reduce radiation. She discovered the ritual in a Google search one sleepless night. “I’m not someone who can turn off completely, and I was sleeping with my phone by my head and waking up all the time,” Abramcyk says. “Now I sleep much better.”

Ana Zawacki lines crystals along the mantel in her bedroom whenever there’s a new moon. She also clutches pyrite and citrine when walking to a big meeting or appointment. “They help me to manifest my goals and set intentions for the day ahead,” says Zawacki, a restaurant publicist.

Crystals, that one-time hippie-dippy hobby, never really went away. But now they are practically as common as drinking green juice and practising yoga. Somewhere between smudge sticks, sound baths and adaptogens, crystals are the latest accessory borrowed from Eastern medicinal philosophies to have penetrated the luxury wellness market, where stylish women are as eager to buy a giant rose quartz as they are the newest Gucci slide.

While little, if any, scientific evidence exists to substantiate crystals’ efficacy, they are extolled as beneficial to physical and emotional healing. Crystals, it seems, appeal to those who seek calm in a chaotic world: a counterbalance to the anxiety induced by non-stop news and feelings of Instagram FOMO.

Ruby Warrington, the author of the new book Material Girl, Mystical World: The Now Age Guide to a High-Vibe Life, which traces the origins of the high-end wellness boom, offers a theory. “As our lives have become increasingly intertwined with technology, we’re yearning for practices that reconnect us to humanity or the earth,” she says. “Especially in times of uncertainty, crystals are an easy access point to tapping into a New Age movement that has experienced a modern upgrade.”

Warrington cites Gwyneth Paltrow as the avatar for the new luxury wellness movement. Her recent In Goop Health summit in Los Angeles, with lectures by integrative medical professionals as well as crystal therapy and aura photography, sold out within days. Clearly it’s no longer enough to have shiny hair and chiselled abs; our chakras must be aligned and our energy paths cleared.

“It’s great to have designer trinkets,” Warrington says. “But what are they worth if they can’t bring truth or happiness?” 

At Taryn Toomey’s exercise studio, where she leads her popular yoga-cardio-strength workout the Class – reportedly favoured by celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Christy Turlington – large chunks of clear quartz greet clients at the desk. Tourmaline and hematite are arrayed at the studio windows, and pieces of onyx circle computers out the back. Each crystal is deliberately placed to help clients release negative energy and cleanse their minds, all while performing multiple jumping jacks and burpees. In glass cases along the wall are the crystal pendants Toomey designs, and which the studio sells for up to $US2800 ($3500).

In designing the studio, Toomey collaborated with Rashia Bell and Elizabeth Kohn, the founders of The​ Cristalline, a design firm. Their philosophy is that by understanding a room’s energy, they can create a functional, beautiful space. They do so by using – what else? – crystals.

Bell and Kohn laid a crystal grid beneath the studio floor. The perimeter has darker stones like tourmaline, hematite and pyrite that are said to block negative energy and electromagnetic fields produced by electronic objects. The centre of the grid houses lighter crystals, like clear and rose quartz and amethyst for cleansing, calming and support.

Tracie Martyn, a New York skincare salon favoured by celebrities, recently introduced a facial mask that uses concentrated extract from malachite crystal. Salon co-founder Marius Morariu believes that the green stone can increase the body’s levels of reduced glutathione, an antioxidant that has been shown to improve the complexion and brighten the skin.

At the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre at Hotel Cafe Royal in London, Bernice Robinson massages a client’s face, neck and decolletage with the smooth surface of a rose quartz or amethyst. Then she lays the crystals on pressure points of the body. “You’re in a state of relaxation in the mind, body, soul,” says Robinson, a reiki master and crystal healer. “It gives a gentle approach to the physical and anatomical wellbeing of the skin at a deeper level. You don’t need a machine or a needle.”

Before any youth preservationists go trading laser treatments for chunks of hematite, know that crystals have not been proved to have medical benefits. For believers, their value may be in fulfilling the spirit, which suits them just fine.

“The funny thing is that I’m sort of a sceptic on the whole,” Toomey says. “But I believe in the power of intention, and whether they work or they don’t, the intention of them is what matters to me.”

For Abramcyk, the rose quartz under her bedroom mattress serves as a reminder to keep her heart open. She’s not concerned about whether it works on a scientific level. “If it makes me take a moment to think, ‘Oh, this is there to open my heart’, then it’s doing its job,” she says. “Instead of putting up a Post-it on my mirror, it’s an elegant, subtle reminder just for me.”

New York Times

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