The Enduring Allure of Gemstone Crystals

The color of this amethyst is extraordinary. 18k yellow and white gold pendant design by Deborah Spencer, Trios Studio, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

As I work on the revision of The Listening Heart–thank you Beta readers for such excellent feedback–I was tickled to find an article in the Ma

As I work on the revision of The Listening Heart–thank you Beta readers for such excellent feedback!–I was tickled to find an article in the March/April 2019 edition of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine entitled “Crystal Hues Persuasion.” It was by Deborah Yonick, whose specialty is jewelry style, and who writes a monthly column on jewelry trends for LJ. The piece describes how the “mystic beauty” of crystals has become a trend—or perhaps we should say has returned as a trend–in the making and marketing of jewelry.

Crystals in jewelry made their debut in the 1970s, as Yonick writes, and remained popular into the early 1990s. Today, of course, they are popularized by their visibility on the Internet and by a number of celebrities. Yonick quotes The Guardian as regarding crystals as “one of the breakout stars of the everyday wellness movement.” As crystals come back into the public awareness, many of the myths long associated with gemstones and crystals—that they can ward off negative emotions or energy, or promote harmony—are coming back, too.

Yet while marketers may take advantage of the legends of metaphysical properties associated with gemstone and crystals to improve sales, more often it is the crystal’s beauty and mysterious perfection that makes them irresistible. Crystal jewelry lets people express their own personality. It lets them be different. It also means that jewelry containing a natural crystal (as opposed to gem material—such as malachite which doesn’t form like that—simply cut into a “crystal” shape) is as unique as the person wearing it. It

Crystals also allow the wearer to keep in touch with the natural world, to strike a blow against an ever-more-mass-manufactured world.

This burgeoning—or rather resurging—interest in crystals is very lucky for me! In The Listening Heart, Stacie Capella, owner of The Bell, Book and Crystal in Eden Beach, California, is very aware of the pull of certain stones. Pure quartz augments her natural gift of second sight—a gift she’d rather not have—and an irreplaceable amethyst crystal, a centuries-old family heirloom, is said to foretell true love. Yet Stacie firmly believes that crystals and gemstones cannot heal, as she is at pains to explain to the fraud detectives who respond to a complaint against her.

“[Mir] got it into her head that it was the touchstone I once gave her that healed her acne.”

 “Why would she think that?” asked Cruz. Her tone said the idea must have gotten into Mir’s head because Stacie put it there.

“Who knows why anyone believes anything?” said Stacie, an edge to her voice. She was getting a bit angry now that the terror of federal prison had passed. “Someone buys a touchstone because it gives them something to hold onto during chemo treatment. When their cancer goes away, why do they credit the stone and not the treatment?” Stacie had had a customer who believed just that, though she wasn’t going to say that to the detective. “Why do placebos work? Doctors still don’t understand that.”

She glanced at Ben. His face was closed.

She remembered the odd sense of confusion she’d sensed at South Coast Heritage Park.

Not confusion. Imbalance. Uncertainty. As if his tether to the ground had been cut.

As if he were torn between desires. Feeling guilty.

Stacie turned and walked to the case where she kept exquisitely formed quartz crystals—smoky, amethyst, colorless–under glass to protect them from damage as well as from too much handling.

“Personally?” she said, as she unlocked and opened the case, and pulled out the drawer holding the crystals. “I think that, for most people, the crystals, the wind chimes, the music–beautiful things, beautiful sounds–just make them feel better, more connected, calmer.” Her hand went unhesitatingly to a smoky quartz the size of her thumb. The specimen was cloudy and dark at the base, but gradually cleared to a lovely gray brown at the terminus which was finely pointed.

She went back to Ben and held it out to him. Startled, he reached for it and she laid it in his hand. Stacie saw Colin’s puzzled look as she turned back toward Cruz.

“The tarot, the runes, simply give people a way to acknowledge what they already know. That it’s time to change jobs. That their boyfriend is no good for them.” From the corner of her eye, she saw Ben watching her, listening to her. She saw his thumb stroking the crystal.

“Just because I sell these things doesn’t mean I’m a healer. Nor does it mean I endorse them as a method of healing. In fact, I always tell people—like your Mrs. Byers—to see a health professional if they have health concerns.”

“But you let your employee continue to tell customers something different,” said Cruz doggedly.

“Yes, well.” Stacie sighed. “I’ve tried to tell her the stones don’t heal, but she’s convinced they’ve helped her.” Stacie spread her hands. “I can’t help what she believes. I have asked her not to say things like that to customers. The shop alone creates enough trouble by itself.”

Stacie does not really believe that the amethyst crystal she wears can identify her heart’s true love, either. But….

Ah. That would be telling.

 

 

 

 

rch/April 2019 edition of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine, by Deborah Yonick, entitled “Crystal Hues Persuasion.”

Birthstone Friday: Amethysts and Crystal Power

John Dyer is one of several gemstones artists who have taken cutting to another level. This 68.49 carat amethyst is one of his Dreamscape™ series. Photo courtesy John Dyer & Co.

Perfect crystals, such a the breathtaking amethyst below, are the jewels of the mineral world. Because of the metaphysical powers attributed to crystals, as well as the real power of quartz crystals, I thought we’d look at that juxtaposition for today’s Birthstone Friday. (Okay, technically today is Thursday. But it’s the last day of February when amethyst reigns as the birthstone. Though, you can still celebrate amethyst until March 20th, since amethyst is also associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces.)

Gemstones are best known in their cut form. You see them in every window in every jewelry store and all over the Internet. (Check out Etsy!) If you go to gem shows, you’ll see thousands more. There are lots of good reasons gemstones are cut. Good cutting directs light into, around, and back out of a gemstone in such a way that light becomes an inseparable part of their beauty. Cutting gives stones their sparkle, can intensify the color, and make them objects of intense desire. Some gemstone carvers not only do all this but create miniature works of art. If you doubt that, simply look at gemstones cut by innovators like John Dyer.

In addition to that, most gemstones simply need help to look their best. Gemstone crystals go through tremendous stresses on their journey to the Earth’s surface. Most don’t make it, or make it in such a damaged shape that they are worthless for jewelry. Once on the surface, they can be dragged down mountainsides and tumbled for years in rivers. But sometimes whole, unsullied crystals do make it to the surface. When they are removed carefully from the pockets where they’ve lived protected for countless millions of years, and when they are of a glorious color, well. Then they’re worth admiring just for themselves.

Gorgeous amethyst crystals with small quartz crystals, from the Jackson Crossroads Mine, Wilkes County, Georgia. USA. Easy to see why people believe in crystal magic. Photo Mia Dixon, courtesy Pala International.

Many jewelry makers are acknowledging that. It’s not all that hard to find gemstone crystals set into earrings or pendants. (Some of those are actually gem material or synthetic material cut into the shapes of crystals, which shows you how popular crystal shapes have become.) But it’s not only the shape but the metaphysical properties associated with the gemstone–and especially the crystal form of the gemstone–that has contributed to the popularity of crystals.

A lot of crystal myth and legend is just that. But quartz (amethyst is a type of quartz) is an unusual stone. It’s piezoelectric. That means that applying pressure to the stone generates electricity and vice versa–applying electricity makes the stone vibrate. The thickness of the stone affects the frequency at which it vibrates. In fact, during WWII, quartz crystals were an integral part of radios. Tons of crystals were cut into slices to enable communication. (If you want to learn more, check out this 42 minute video.) Quartz is used today in watches and clocks to ensure precision timing. Today, most of the material used for this is man-made, or synthetic quartz, not natural quartz cut from mined quartz crystals.

When writing The Listening Heart, I had fun tying this ability of quartz crystals to Stacie’s use of a quartz crystal to augment her second sight abilities. I also took the liberty of including amethyst under the blanket of quartz’s “radio capabilities.” However, to my knowledge, the impurities in amethyst that give the stones their color would make amethyst useless for radio communication. That’s the fun of writing fiction.

 

 

 

Draft of The Listening Heart Done!

Finally! The second book in my Eden Beach birthstone series, The Listening Heart, is done and out to beta readers. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought. From some of the comments coming in, it will take a bit longer yet as I make it stronger. I’ve added a suspense element to this one, and that has made the pacing trickier.

This one has a stalker/serial killer who is shadowing my main female character, Stacie Capella. I’ve already had one friend tell me she won’t read it and that’s fine. But I wanted to try something darker. Not sure I’ll try it again, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Now, on to book three as I wait for the rest of the comments from beta readers. I’m determined this one will get done faster.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Bananas. I’m ready when you are! Photo Stuart Robertson/Dreamstime.

Happy Valentine’s Day! A day for hearts, flowers, chocolate, and, of course, love.

It’s Stacie Capella’s 29th birthday. Her wonderful friends have surprised her with a small celebration in her shop, The Bell, Book and Crystal, before opening. Eileen has brought a beautiful cake, which pleases the ever-hungry Colin, and a couple of Milk Bones, which is awarded much tail-wagging by Bananas, the labradoodle on steroids. Stacie is surprised and touched by the exquisite card Colin, a graphic designer, has created for them all to sign, and delighted with the lovely brooch Mir has made from repurposed costume jewelry. It is a wonderful surprise and Stacie enjoys it completely. Colin enjoys the cake.

Only later does Stacie allow herself a touch of melancholy. She lingers that evening by a window that overlooks the coast of Eden Beach, gently rolling her amethyst crystal pendant in her hand. Family legend has it that, when she find true love, the crystal will turn warm and pulse, like a second heart. She smile ruefully, half wishing the legend were true.

But Stacie has resigned herself to a life alone, there is another gift that she inherited from her great aunt, Amelia, in addition to the amethyst crystal. Stacie has the gift of second sight. It has cost her friends, it has cost her jobs. It has cost her love. She fights to hide and deny it. She only wants to be normal.

Her gift, however, seems to be getting stronger. In the end, she may find, she needs it to save her life.

For more, read The Listening Heart. Coming this spring.

Researching the Mystical

Gemstone crystals can connect us to the earth. But can they heal? Photo Somakram @ Dreamstime.com

Gemstones have been attributed with a variety of mystical healing, protective, and self-improvement properties. But I was trained as a gemologist, learning all the “hard facts” about gemstones. However, I often want to use the mystical, magical, legendary properties of gemstones in my Birthstone Romances. For that background, I usually turn to two places. Continue reading

Jacob Albee Goldsmith

Trust Heart Sml

The cover of To Trust the Heart would not be nearly so beautiful without the work of Jacob Albee, a goldsmith and jewelry artist in Burlington Vermont. The piece presents a striking contrast between the rough, etched, literally out-of-this-world texture of a Gibeon Meteorite slice, the sharp precision of the golden spessartite garnet, and the smooth, cool surface of 18k gold. This combination, I thought, made it the perfect example of imagination that might have been used by a jewelry designer such as Cassie Franklin, the female lead in To Trust the Heart.

So I was delighted when Jacob gave permission for me to use his pendant, Yin Yang, on the cover, although this might have been one of the strangest requests for photo use permission he’d ever gotten. Continue reading

To Trust the Heart

Trust Heart SmlI’m so happy to announce that my first Birthstone Romance, To Trust the Heart, is now available.

I’m grateful to everyone who helped bring this to fruition, from beta readers with their invaluable insights, to proofers with sharp eyes, to cover designer Robin Ludwig who made the beautiful cover.

But I particularly want to thank two people. First, Jacob Albee for the spectacular spessartite garnet and meteorite pendant on the cover! It’s a privilege to feature the work of such a talented jewelry artist. And it’s a wonderful introduction to the multi-hued world of garnets, the underrated birthstone for January.

But without the support and encouragement of dear friend, superb knitter, avid hockey fan, and amazing author Devon Monk, I would never have tried this. Thanks, Devon!