Many of us feel a connection with gemstones that is much more complex than the simple appreciation of their beauty. I have a polished labradorite crystal on my desk – a gift from my daughter – that I play with often when I’m looking for inspiration. With its magical metallic lustre, criss-crossed with nature’s markings, it is a fascinating stone to look at, but beyond its physical appearance, this little piece of labradorite often helps me to focus on the task in hand.
This feeling is nothing new. For thousands of years, people have felt connected to gemstones and crystals, believing them to have metaphysical properties and powers that stem from their deep connection to the earth. The Ancient Egyptians placed gemmological talismans, including turquoise, carnelian and emeralds, to provide protection and health, while the Innuits believed Labradorite to be a “fire stone” and used it, in its powdered form, to help cure ailments. And this close affinity with gemstones throughout history remains very much alive today, with designers creating jewels that are an invitation to connect with the beauty, symbolism and energy of the stones.
Based in New York City, Kimberly McDonald is one such jeweller. A reflection of her deep connection to stones and natural materials, she often features crystal geodes and agates in her designs, which she believes give off just the right kind of vibes that are needed in the world right now. When did she first discover that, beyond their beauty, gemstones have power, energy and soul? “I believe I’ve always known,” she says. “Maybe I didn’t know exactly what it was – the energy – that I felt. But I knew I was drawn to them.”
From a very young age, she has been drawn to agates. “They were the first stones I really fell in love with,” she explains. “Their bands of colour and impossibly intricate micro-patterns just blow my mind. As a kid, I used to sit for hours in the sun at my grandma’s house picking them out of the driveway. She lived in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, near the Great Lakes, where even the driveways invariable contained scores of ‘treasures’ in the form of agates. It was my thing – my peaceful place. And I believe that peaceful energy came from the agates, which according to folklore are stones of protection. That, to me, is energy.”
Kimberly believes that various stones evoke or amplify different moods, geodes in particular. “They just seem happy,” she says. “Thousands of micro quartz crystals that have been forming over millions of years in the Earth, right there on your finger. Currents shining back and forth as the light plays against their individual natural angles and nuances. I believe they elevate. We also know for sure that quartz is a transducer of energy so it’s going to amplify and magnify the energy it connects with.”
Jacquie Aiche has inspired a whole tribe of devotees, who are big believers in the amuletic powers of her jewels, which are handmade in LA. The designer only works with gemstones she feels connected to, those with special properties that can provide inner healing and happiness, an impulse that can be traced back to her childhood. “Mother Nature has always been a source of balance for me,” she says. “As a girl, I loved collecting stones in my backyard. I have always felt a special connection to the minerals of the Earth and the love only grew from there.”
I asked her about her favourite mood-enhancing gems – which stones are guaranteed to lift the spirits? “All of the gemstones I work with have a way of balancing me out,” says Jacquie. “If I'm ever in need of a mood boost, I tend to gravitate toward turquoise and opal. Turquoise is a powerful healing stone. It centres my spirit, allowing positive energy to flow freely. And opal is like sunshine in a stone. It keeps me feeling energised and creative. The beautiful iridescence that opal radiates will always make me smile.”
Designer Brooke Gregson’s passion for gemstones was pre-destined. She grew up with a crystal-obsessed mother and fine-jewellery-collector father who focused on high-quality stones with an inner beauty. “The terrace of our house was covered in healing gemstones such as amethyst, rose quartz and phantom crystals. My father would always joke that the amount of crystals covering this terrace could potentially beam down aliens,” she laughs. “Both of my parents had an appreciation of and were collectors of gemstones and this definitely rubbed off on me.”
It was during her first job out of college that Brooke became attuned to the energy of stones. “I was working at a place called the Crystallarium,” she recalls. “It was a unique shop that sold high-quality crystals starting from the size of a grape up to the size of a car. One day the owner brought in a citrine crystal that took up the whole front window. She had me place my hand on its side and I immediately felt a buzzing vibration. This feeling has stuck with me to this day.”
Brooke’s new collection of honed gemstone necklaces are the perfect jewel for an instant mood boost. Cool and calming to the touch, she felt a beautiful energy emanating from the stones as soon as she met the gemmologist working with these unique gemstone beads. “The way each stone was cut to honour the natural quality of the stone itself spoke to me – they were truly alive,” she says.
Brooke is also a big fan of Boulder opal, aquamarine and rhodochrosite, which is known for opening the heart chakra and encouraging positivity. “I love working with aquamarine and feel that the colour blue alone can balance the mind and body,” says Brooke. “Everyone is different, though, so I always recommend holding a stone for a few minutes and seeing if you resonate with it.”
These designers look beyond the physical beauty of a gemstone, tapping into their power as some of the oldest conduits of energy on the planet to create jewels that resonate with meaning and symbolism.