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Natural crystals present themselves as beautiful and healing stones, formed of the earth and vibrating with unique energies. These amazing crystals can be found everywhere and are used in a plethora of manners, including healing, collecting, or simply admiring. These wondrous stones emit the energy of Mother Earth and serve many purposes - but exactly what are natural crystals?

Natural Crystals - Clear Quartz Specimen from Arkansas

WHAT ARE NATURAL CRYSTALS? 

To put it simply, natural crystals are rock formations that follow a pattern of molecules or atoms. Found in an array of shapes, sizes and characteristics, natural crystals are comprised of a crystalline structure arranged in a way that allows energy to move throughout the stone.. The crystal’s inner structure is also known as a “lattice.” Natural crystals are identified by their repeating geometric molecular pattern and are also considered to be minerals. They are a solid material that follows a specific chemical formulation for each different type, whether they are naturally occurring or inorganic. For example, Quartz is a naturally formed crystal, whereas much (but not all) of the Strawberry Quartz on the market is actually a crystal created from man-made glass in a laboratory.

Natural crystals have a certain kind of symmetry based on the way that the atoms of the crystal are organized. This sort of configuring is known as the “crystal structure” and will always fall into one of six categories:

  1. Cubic

  2. Hexagonal

  3. Tetragonal

  4. Orthorhombic

  5. Monoclinic and

  6. Triclinic.

Each of these systems are based on the geometric combination of the crystal, including the number and length of axes each one has, as well as the angles at which they meet. These six systems come from the 32 possibilities of symmetric crystal formations. There are, however, some gems that are not included in these crystal systems because their formation lacks the uniform crystal structure of other natural crystals. These gems have an Amorphous structure and include Amber, Jet, Moldavite, Obsidian, Opal and Ivory. Natural crystals are fascinating stones made up of intricately arranged atoms and formed by the specific environment in which they grow.

HOW THEY ARE FORMED

How are natural crystals formed? To start, the progression in which the formation of crystals begins is known as “crystallization.” This process happens through the action of liquid, a solution, or gas.

When natural crystals are formed in the earth, a solution of minerals is held in a suspended state in the earth due to high temperatures. Once the temperature drops and melting starts to occur, different crystals begin to form at varying temperatures. To further explain, remember that the earth’s mantle is found under the crust. This mantle exists as over 80% of the earth’s volume and is approximately 1,802 miles (2.900 km) thick. The mantle is made from molten rock, or “magma.” Heat currents near the center of the earth keep the mantle in constant motion and occasionally the magma leaks to the surface, which is what we know as “lava.” There are high pressures and varying temperatures between the crust and the mantle and sometimes chunks of rock break free from the earth and fall into the moving hot magma. As these rock pieces melt, the leftover minerals begin to form into gems and crystals.

Another way crystals are formed is in the plentiful cavities found in the lower part of the earth’s crust. Liquid from the magma will fill the spaces and as the temperature starts to cool, crystals begin to form from the process of crystallization. Depending on the pressure, temperature and solution within the magma, different crystals will materialize. Time and space are also factors as to what kind of natural crystals form.

Crystals can also manifest from the gas bubbles in the magma, or lava, of a volcanic eruption.

Some crystals commonly formed from gas include Topaz, Garnet and Herkimer Diamonds. Additionally, crystals with natural points formed on each end (double-terminated) are known to arise from these gas pockets.

 

Natural crystals are also formed in the earth’s waterways, and in pockets of water near the earth’s surface. Also, the mineral deposits can be relocated when it rains, and then begin to form in new locations as a result. The presence of copper in the water can lead to the formation of natural crystals such as Malachite, Turquoise and Azurite. Nature provides many ways for the crystallization process to take place, allowing for all kinds of beautiful and healing natural crystals to emerge.

Natural Crystals - Malachite - Image by Ond?ej Synek from Pixabay

WHAT ISN’T NATURAL?

Natural crystals are amazing and beautiful products of nature, but did you know that some of the lovely crystals we have come to adore are actually man-made? That’s right, some of your favorite crystals may have actually been made in a lab! This doesn’t mean they do not possess healing attributes; it only means they came from a source other than Mother Earth. The recent trend in healing crystal popularity has opened a larger market for man-made crystals that have been created either in a lab or heat-treated to become the stones they are now.

HOW MAN-MADE CRYSTALS ARE CREATED

There are several ways man-made crystals are created. Each serve different purposes, and all create amazing pieces for healing and/or appreciation.

Laboratory

In a lab setting, crystals can be synthetically made from elements to resemble a certain gem without being comprised of the same materials. Alternately, crystals can be made from the same composition of natural crystals using the same elements found in the gem but are actually grown in the lab, as opposed to being mined. Usually, they will have unique or perfect shapes to them. These lab grown crystals are often very vibrant and nearly flawless, as well as less expensive than natural crystals.

Examples of Laboratory made crystals include Bismuth as well as Aura Quartz crystals which are enhanced in a lab.

Natural Crystals - Bismuth from Healing Crystals

Dyed

When it comes to color consistency, vibrancy or unnatural colors, dyeing crystals is an ideal option to produce a more uniform or unique crystal. Agates are often dyed unusual or unnatural colors. Common stones such as Onyx, Malachite, Turquoise and many more are often dyed to increase vibrancy and to adjust discolored spots. Glass, resin, ceramic and plastic are often dyed to resemble various crystals, because they are inexpensive to create and produce in large quantities. This can be appealing because some crystals, like Turquoise for example, are very expensive and not readily available in their authentic form. 

Another example used to imitate turquoise crystals is by dyeing Howlite and Magnesite shades of blue and turquoise to create the illusion of natural turquoise crystals.

Filled

Cracked crystals or those with fissures will sometimes be filled for a smoother, more even and aesthetically appealing appearance. Glass is often used, as well as wax, to fill in the spaces. This type of filling modification eliminates imperfections while still keeping the original healing properties of the crystal.

Some crystals that are often filled with wax or resin to even out imperfections include various tumbled stones (often found from rivers) such as Sapphire, Emerald, Amazonite, Coral, Jade and Peridot. One way to identify crystals that have been filled is by their seemingly perfect appearance. They will be very uniform and extremely smooth, and will lack natural texture.

Heat-treated

Some crystals are heat-treated, or irradiated. Selected crystals are treated with heat via ionization, neutron bombardment or gamma radiation. The crystals are treated with chemicals then heated to alter, brighten or deepen their color. For example, most Citrine is derived from heat-treating Amethyst, and Golden Tiger Eye becomes Red Tiger Eye after heat is applied. The brown in Tanzanite often turns hues of violet and blue after being treated with heat.

Natural Crystals - Red Tiger Eye from Healing Crystals

POPULAR MAN-MADE CRYSTALS

There are many man-made crystals to pair with natural crystals, and two of the most popular are Aura Quartz and Heat-treated Citrine.

AURA QUARTZ

Aura Quartz crystals are created artificially so they are not entirely natural crystals, but they are not without their own benefits and healing properties. As with many manufactured items, the exact method of creating Aura Quartz is not entirely known as it is considered a trade secret. In fact, material and production costs actually make it so that Aura Quartz is somewhat rare. A lovely piece to add to any collection, these crystals are created artificially by way of vaporized metals combined with natural quartz in a vacuum. The metals most commonly used in this process include gold, indium, titanium, niobium and copper.This process can take up to 18 hours to complete. When finished, the vaporized metals have been permanently fused to the surface of the quartz, providing the beautiful iridescent sheen of Aura Quartz. There are over 30 different kinds of Aura stones that have been created in this manner, including a range of colors from bright shades of blues and greens, purples, yellows, rainbow colors and more.

Healers enjoy working with the various types of Aura Quartz because the underlying Quartz amplifies the energy of the colorful outer coating, and creates a powerful healing stone. Aura Quartz is a great introduction into working with the power of different kinds of metals for healing purposes.. For example, Aqua Aura Quartz is made of Clear Quartz bonded with vaporized gold, creating a clearing and energizing crystal for the Throat Chakra to allow for diving deep into one's truth. Aqua Aura Quartz provides a great opportunity to work with gold for healing, because the cost and availability of gold is prohibitive in many instances. Aura Quartz crystals offer this remarkable opportunity to experiment with various metals.

Although Aura Quartz is not a completely natural crystal, it still emits a powerful amplified energy that serves as a great healing tool. These pieces are wonderful additions to every healer's collection.

Natural Crystals - Rainbow Angel Aura Quartz from Healing CrystalsNatural Crystals - Rainbow Angel Aura Quartz from Healing Crystals

HEAT-TREATED CITRINE

Fantastic and vibrant healing stones, Citrine that has been treated with heat possesses a deep and rich hue that ranges from a deep yellow to a full red-brown tone. Typically, when Citrine is found as a natural crystal, it is the result of both Amethyst or Smoky Quartz being heated organically by the Earth’s hot temperature. Natural Citrine is often lighter in color, more translucent and more expensive to purchase. To artificially create an enhanced form of Citrine, as Citrine itself is a rarer natural find, pieces of lightly colored Amethyst are placed in a kiln and then treated with heat of temperatures over 900 degrees fahrenheit. While some healers prefer to work strictly with raw Citrine as a natural crystal, many find that enhanced color is actually a benefit, because the original molecular structure still remains intact after the heating process.

Natural Crystals - Heat-treated Citrine Druze from Healing Crystals

NATURAL, MAN-MADE, OR BOTH?

There are also crystals that are created naturally by Mother Earth, but are then subjected to man-made processes for finishing. In these situations, highly refined amounts of the element are heated to their melting point and then cooled down at the same rate of heating. This procedure causes crystallization, and variances occur based on the heating and cooling rates. Natural crystals that fall into this category include Bismuth and Zircon.

Often times, a commercially-finished Bismuth stone is a by-product of lead and copper smelting. So although it may begin naturally, man-made processes create the final result. In elemental form, Bismuth is a rare occurrence in nature and most of the crystals from this element are lab-grown. Created in the same vein as Bismuth, Zircon is often heat-treated to enhance its appearance. Zircon is a main mineral in many pieces of granite, and altered by radiation as it is formed. Often, steam shovels on floating dredge boats happen to collect the sand in which Zircon can be found, as the barge floats in coastal waters. The shovel inadvertently spins the elements, removing any impurities and leaving behind pure forms of Zircon. Fascinating stones created from nature at the hand of man, they too contain beneficial healing properties and may serve as aesthetically pleasing stones added to any collection.

Natural Crystals - Zircon chips from Healing Crystals

NATURAL VS MAN-MADE ENERGY WORK PREFERENCES

Natural crystals are often used during healing techniques for their healing properties. With that in mind, there is a debate between which crystal type is preferred for energy work - natural or man-made. Ultimately, many prefer natural crystals because they are from Mother Nature, drawn from the earth, raw and connected to that energy. The history of the earth, as well as the memories and energy, are vibrating within natural crystals. There is a unique and special connection to natural crystals for that reason.

That being said, those healers who prefer man-made crystals for energy work feel that crystals that have been dyed still maintain the original healing properties of that stone, as well as the properties of the added color. For this reason, they include treated stones for color therapy and chakra work, feeling that the energy of the color is amplified by the natural stone underneath the treated coating. Aura Quartz is a great example of a human-enhanced crystal preferred for use in energy work, because of its vibrant and specific colors.

With both choices in mind, love for each stone, whether it is natural or man-made, is what shifts the energy and intentions of each gem. You ultimately decide the energy, intention or blessing attributed to your healing crystals. Intuition should always be the deciding influence on which kind of crystal to use for healing work.

Natural Crystals - Image by AlbanyColley from Pixabay

HEALING WITH NATURAL CRYSTALS

Natural crystals have been offering their healing properties to us throughout time. The vibrations from natural crystals keep us grounded and connected to Mother Earth. Natural crystals help us to cleanse, to energize, to balance. We meditate with them, wear them, hold them close, sleep with them under our pillow and heal with them. With so many ways to benefit from natural crystals, they are also visually stunning stones to keep in our living spaces. There are an abundance of crystals from which to choose, all unique and beautiful. The gift of natural crystals from Mother Earth allows us to utilize our intuition and intentions to manifest our goals, dreams, and desires.

 

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Saturday 22 August, 2099
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