Evan Woods

Art & Architecture

The Crystal Movement May Not Turn You On, But What About a More Practical Use?

Stepping into Taryn Toomey’s TriBeCa fitness studio, The Class, comes with recognition of a common theme—crystals. Jagged “healing” clear quartz clings to light fixtures and crushed rose quartz, black onyx and amethyst lay hidden under the pale oak floor planks, where the former Christian Dior fashion executive-turned-fitness guru leads yoga-inspired sessions attended by supermodels like Christy Turlington Burns. The flickering candles and strategically placed crystals offer as much of a cathartic effect as the lithely blonde who simultaneously dances and DJs to Coachella-style beats, commanding students to “Get fucking angry” and let out pent-up emotions through animalistic roars. Equal parts therapy session and serious body sculpting, quartz-covered lighting (à la Kelly Wearstler) sets the scene here just as much as the beauty products lining the marble bathroom shelves.

With the meditation and mindfulness industry pulling in more than $1.1 billion in the United States alone, it was only a matter of time before New Age healing classics like crystals made it to the mainstream market, with everyone from Victoria Beckham (who keeps crystals backstage before fashion shows) to designer Tory Burch (whose stores are decorated with crystal light fixtures) jumping on the balance bandwagon. In regions like Chamonix, where some of the world’s most beautiful smoky quartz is mined in the Mont Blanc massif mountain range, these crystals have served as design inspiration for thousands of years. The proof: quartz found in ancient Roman ruins near the Swiss town of Martigny. “Quartz has always been valuable, and I can completely understand why people want to have it in their homes and feel its energy,” says Chamonix-based mountain guide and crystal hunter Simón Elías Barasoain. “They’re pieces from the center of the Earth; they’re a bit like the kryptonite of Superman."

Incorporating crystals isn’t something new, but the way we are fitting them into our lifestyle—and home décor—is. “Yoga and meditation have grown so much, and people are looking for a way to find more balance within their lives—and they’re looking for their home to help them do that,” explains energetic interior designer and crystal healer Rashia Bell, half of the duo behind interior design team The Cristalline (who dreamed up Taryn Toomey’s “crystal wonderland”). Plenty of celebrities are drinking the crystal Kool-Aid, with reality stars Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag spending as much as $27,000 on a carefully curated cocktail of crystals for their hospital delivery room. But where is the proof that these pretty arrangements of atoms can enhance energy just as much as they enhance the beauty of a space? “There’s a massive awakening happening and people are tapping into ancient types of medicine,” explains spiritual therapist Inessa Freylekhman, who serves as the feng shui practitioner on Carillon Miami’s medical team. “Before we had pills and shots, people relied on nature to heal. Meditation and crystals have been here to help people keep their shit together for thousands of years, and it’s popping back up again—only this time we’re rebranding it and making it palatable in a modern way so it’s not weird or scary.” 

According to Houston-based licensed professional geologist Gilly Rosen, however, you may reap more scientifically proven benefits by diluting crystals rather than decorating with them. “There is no scientific evidence to support the claims of crystal therapy, but if seeing a pretty crystal in your home brings positive feelings, then in a way it has influenced your ‘energy,’” she says, adding that a proven functional use of crystals is soaking in an Epsom salt-infused bath. 

As for the concept that different stones possess different healing energies, Natalie Feanny, a gemologist and diamond buyer at J.R. Dunn Jewelers near Palm Beach, calls this “the stuff of legends,” since varieties of the same minerals claim to have unique benefits, yet consist of the same chemical composition. For example, sapphire and ruby are both corundum, but rubies are believed to be connected to the sun and sapphires are said to have a celestial affiliation with Saturn. “There are many varieties of quartz, all with the same chemical composition SiO2, so it’s hard to believe they have a variety of different properties,” she says. In medieval times, wearing amethyst was believed to help ward off drunkenness, but now this vibrant, violet-colored quartz is a home décor favorite, ridding rooms of negative energy. 

After a visit to a crystal shop in New York City, fashion stylist-turned-shamanic energy medicine practitioner Colleen McCann of Style Rituals (who designed GOOP’s $85 chakra-healing medicine bag of crystals) switched from closet clearing to energy clearing. “My whole life changed after touching a crystal,” she says, with this experience taking her (like many others) down the “crystal-laden rabbit hole.” After spending a decade studying with a Buddhist feng shui master on the art of crystal healing and space clearing, McCann developed her own skill of “space balancing,” a mix of shamanic cosmology, feng shui and color theory. Inspired by the Chinese Kua number chart (an astrology reading of sorts that looks at birthdates and other personal information), McCann analyzes clients’ inner magnetic compass and creates a “crystal grid,” appropriating certain crystals to certain zones of a space. Citrine, for example, is believed to be a success stone that welcomes in good fortune, so it’s commonly placed in home offices and on desks. “Even if every time you look at citrine and it reminds you of what you’re working on and what your goals are, then that’s great; you can see it in a practical way,” she says. 

Crystals have made their way to mass market brands (like West Elm), which sell everything from rose quartz coasters to crystal candle holders. Instead of worrying about which type of raw, cut crystal goes in which zone of your home, start small with accent pieces like crystal bowls. “You can de-mystify crystals so they are regarded as a beautiful item as any other art piece or accessory in your home would be,” Bell explains. 

Award-winning Pavarini Design takes accessorizing one step farther, trading out traditional marble and granite for custom-cut, crystal-covered tabletops and artistic forms of fireplaces, with logs crafted out of milky-colored slabs of selenite. For fans of crystals in their natural form, Pavarini Design V.P. J. Randall recommends using geodes as design accents, placing small crystals on tables or shelves and mounting larger ones on pedestals, “so they can be interspersed within the design to add that visual impact and natural energy vibration.” 
In a digitally driven world, many people are looking to take a break from technology and reconnect with nature, and “crystals allow a person to resonate their own energy with the energy of nature,” Bell says. “Being able to bring crystals—which are natural elements—indoors, into the home, is one way people can really get in touch with that.” Just as you would accessorize with wooden sculptures and shell-shaped bowls, crystals can offer a tangible way to slip a natural element into your home that, unlike a plant, won’t die on your next work trip.

While pink rose quartz is a common crystal go-to, Bell recommends darker shades found in more masculine stones like black tourmaline, smoky quartz and hematite, which are said to block negative energy and electromagnetic frequencies radiating from iPhones and other gadgets. Another stone that’s said to be just as protective but also looks great: iron pyrite, or fool’s gold, which grows in perfect squares and adds a subtle shine to a bookshelf or basic black coffee table. “It’s great to use as a decorative accent because it looks very stylized and sleek and has a richness without feeling too feminine,” Bell says. 

One easy way to slip crystals into the sanctuary is with hardware (think door knobs and dresser handles). “Crystal knobs are a great way to introduce crystal in a less aggressive way, since we deal with a lot of clients who don’t believe necessarily in the metaphysical aspect of crystals,” explains Matthew Studios founder Katherine Wildt O’Brien, who designed custom, crystal-coated lighting for Kate Spade and Tory Burch. With just one job, Wildt O’Brien may work with 50 pieces of hardware—all of which are slightly unique since the stones hail from nature and aren’t of the mass-produced, man-made variety sold at big-brand shops. “People really gravitate toward certain stones and certain colors and that’s a magical quality you don’t necessarily feel when you buy something at HomeGoods,” she jokes. 

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