As I worked on the revision of Dangerous Visions I was tickled to find an article in the March/April 2019 edition of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine entitled “Crystal Hues Persuasion” by Deborah Yonick, who writes a monthly column on jewelry style and trends for LJJA. 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.
Gemstone 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 saying that crystals are “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 means that jewelry containing a natural crystal (as opposed to a gem material simply cut into a “crystal” shape) is as unique as the person wearing 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 Dangerous Visions, Stacie Cappella, 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. The irreplaceable amethyst crystal she wears, 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 finely pointed terminus.
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, they 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.