So I just bought a crystal…Now what do I do with it?
UPDATE: This article previously used the term “medicine bag” to describe a charm bag or pouch filled with meaningful items. Using this term is culturally appropriative (as this term is rooted in Indigenous spiritual practice) in the context it was previously used, especially shared by the author here (who is white). This article has been updated to reflect this change.
People have a lot of questions about crystals, and we’re happy to share their enthusiasm! Here are some things people often wonder about.
There are so many things you can do with crystals! You can carry one in your pocket, or a bunch of them in a charm bag. When the purpose of the crystal has to do with your everyday life, this is often a good bet. You can wear the crystal too, either as a readymade piece of jewelry or by placing a piece in an inexpensive cage necklace. One great thing about these cages is that you can switch the crystal out as your needs change. At other times you might want to keep a crystal where its energy is most needed, like in your home or office. Or keep the crystal close while you sleep — maybe in the pillowcase or under the mattress — to work through your subconscious or dreams. Crystals can go with you in your car, on your altar, in your bra, in the refrigerator — whatever makes sense according to the crystal’s purpose!
Where do all these crystals come from?
We buy from many different sources: gem shows, general distributors, specialized crystal warehouses, out-of-the-way rock shops, and dealers we cross paths with. If we know where a crystal was mined (which is most of the time), we’ll share this on the display sign. Unfortunately, some of the time we just plain don’t know. We can try to make an educated guess. This is easy with minerals that only come from one location, like mystic merlinite (Madagascar) or larimar (Dominican Republic). Sometimes we can also judge by appearance. For example, turquoise can come from a lot of places, but we can guess that a lower grade piece is probably from China, whereas higher quality pieces often come from the American southwest.
Are most crystals at new age shops natural or manmade?
Most are natural, but a few are either manmade or need human help to achieve the forms you see in the store. Here are some common ones:
- Goldstone and opalite are glass containing ground-up metals or minerals.
- Orgonite is a manmade plastic with mineral and metal inclusions.
- Bismuth is a natural element, but has to be isolated from its usual companion minerals to form the little pyramid shapes we sell.
- Some citrine is actually heat-treated amethyst. (More on this in a bit.)
- Aura quartzes are natural quartz exposed to metallic vapor. (Keep reading for more on this, too.)
- A lot of turquoise is reconstituted, meaning it’s real turquoise that’s been ground up and reformed. Sometimes coloring or adhesive are also added.
- Howlite and agate are often dyed and made into inexpensive jewelry and doodads. We’re not too crazy about these fakes, generally, but a few odds and ends have made their way onto our shelves. We’ll always be upfront with you about what these items are made of.
Does size of a crystal matter?
It’s not the most important thing, but yes, sometimes size makes a difference. After all, symbolism is part of magic, and every stone is unique. Size is one characteristic of the individual stone that contributes to its certain symbolic meaning. So even though black tourmaline of any size helps protect your home, a pebble in the corner may tend to be forgotten, whereas a substantial chunk next to the front door gives off just the vibe you’re looking for.
You may want to check out these videos for more information:
What about different shapes?
Yes, shapes make a difference too. Here are some common ones and their uses:
- Wands are especially good for directing energy.
- Rounded stones help with comfort and healing.
- A pocket, palm or worry stone is great to carry with you, as a daily reminder of your intentions and goals.
- Pyramids and points pull in energy.
- A merkaba connects you with the spiritual realm, including angels and guides.
- Seer stones are designed for skrying, helping you “see” with your intuition and work with your third eye.
- Hearts and eggs… well, obviously!
How can I know natural from heat-treated citrine?
You can tell a lot by the color. Natural citrine’s pale yellow shades to gray — not surprising, since it has the same chemical makeup as smoky quartz. Manmade citrine is created by exposing amethyst to high temperatures (in the neighborhood of 1000 degrees). It’s yellow, but with an orange-to-brown tint. Since heat-treated citrine is basically amethyst, its mineral makeup differs from that of natural citrine. The two have basically the same metaphysical properties, yet manmade citrine is physically different. It has also been artificially exposed to intense heat, which is likely to alter its energy.
What are wands?
Wands direct energy. As a healing tool, they move healing energy to specific parts of the body. They can also direct energy to another crystal or some other object, preparing it to receive your intention. Some wands have seven smaller crystals attached because they’re designed to work with the chakras. On others, one end is rounded while the other comes to a gentle point. These wands are designed for massage.
Is aura quartz real or artificial?
It’s manufactured from natural quartz and metallic elements. To create it, quartz is heated to extreme temperatures (like about 1600 degrees) and exposed to vaporized metal. A thin, iridescent film of metal clings to the surface of the crystal. Different metals or combinations of metals produce different colors.