Three years ago, while reading up on feng shui, singer-songwriter Anastasia Francis came across a few articles about crystals.
“It started with a curiosity – you think they’re just stones but how come so many people have been using them for centuries across different countries and for different purposes? I just thought it was crazy.”
Intrigued, the 31-year-old Singaporean walked into a crystal shop and bought a piece of Labradorite. And things just snowballed from there.
Today she has around 50 pieces, ranging from small polished tumbled and raw stones, to bracelets and other jewellery, to bigger solid pieces such as an amethyst geode weighing “a few kilograms”.
“I have them in my house, at my office, in my bag. They go everywhere with me!”
EMBRACING THE CRYSTAL LIFESTYLE
Francis is hardly the only millennial who has caught the crystal collecting bug – 28-year-old Clarissa Tan, who works in the media industry, is also slowly learning more about these shiny things.
Eight months ago, she got dragged by a friend to a crystal shop at Fu Lu Shou Complex for an aural reading session. She was given a few freebie pyrite stones and has since bought a bracelet and was given a necklace as a gift.
“I’ve always been interested in this area of spirituality and found it interesting that different crystals have different uses. I’m still not sure about the health aspects or if it’s a placebo effect, but what’s important to me isn’t just that I get these crystals but also that I’m exploring what they are,” said Tan.
To sceptical outsiders, the world of crystals may seem like either a New Age hippie fad or a hobby for uncles and aunties, but Francis and Tan belong to a growing group of young people who are openly embracing the lifestyle.
The crystal itself is not a magical potion but more of a medium that we use to magnify our own desires and intentions.
And it’s not as niche as one might think: The world’s crystal industry today is worth between S$1.36 to S$2 billion and crystals – and the whole crystal healing trend has seeped into modern homes and popular culture.
It’s being championed by the likes of the Olsen twins (who give away crystals at their fashion shows), Adele, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian. Beauty brands, too, have incorporated crystal-infused ingredients into products, such as Australian model Miranda Kerr’s Kora and homegrown brand Mmerci Encore.
IT’S NOT JUST AN AUNTIE THING
“While feng shui and astrology are not so popular among youngsters, I would say there’s a growing interest in metaphysical (aspects),” said Kheyton Lim, who manages Tamza House Of Crystals And Lifestyle.
While Tamza’s clients still include folks like feng shui masters and older people, they also get office workers and students from nearby schools such as NAFA and LASALLE. Lim reckons half of their customers are of the younger set.
He added that social media is playing a huge part in piquing interest – in particular online bidding via Facebook Live. “A lot of new people are hitching on to the trend,” said the 25-year-old.
There’s definitely a perception that if you have crystals, it’s very 'auntie'.
For Francis, the idea of collecting crystals as something only the older folks do didn’t enter her mind. “I never really saw it as something confined to an age group,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tan agreed that crystals are to some degree associated to an older generation.
“I think there’s definitely a perception that if you have crystals, it’s very 'auntie'. But it really depends on where you get it from – there are more and more jewellery shops that sell crystals embedded in stylish pieces, which are very popular with the younger crowd. And the so-called New Age healing things are actually popular among us, too,” she said.
So why do people buy and what kind of crystals are they buying?
Lim said reasons range from people keen on the spiritual aspects (certain stones supposedly bring health or prosperity) to those who collect based on aesthetic reasons. Some buy to keep on their person, others to display in offices or at home.
It’s really about the connection you feel towards a piece.
And while, crystals are often conveniently clumped together to basically mean any sort of mineral, the reality is that it’s a bit more complicated – they come in all shapes and sizes, at different price points, and from everywhere.
Among the more popular ones are amethyst geodes (especially among first-time homeowners looking for ornamental pieces), green phantom quartz and tourmaline.
Crystals come from everywhere, too, including South America, Africa, North America, China, Russia and even Indonesia and Malaysia. And while authentic crystals are actually mined or found organically, Lim pointed out that there are also lab-grown crystals and imitation crystals (where cheap crystals are irradiated or dyed) circulating in the market.
As for the price tag, small tumbled or loose stones may go for as low as S$2 and massive ones cost in the “tens of thousands” depending on rarity, said Lim.
PLACEBO EFFECT OR A PIECE OF ART?
One question that those who aren’t into crystals ask (often accompanied by a raised eyebrow) is whether they actually work or is more of a pseudo-science.
While the science of it – how the vibrational frequencies and auric fields have a direct physical impact on the user, for instance – is up for debate, Lim said one’s enjoyment of crystals need not be tied down to proving their effectiveness.
“These so-called healing properties may or may not work but we can’t deny the placebo effect it has on people,” he said, adding that at the very least these objects serve as a kind of focal point for its users dealing with certain issues “so that they can be constantly reminded of what they’re trying to improve”.
“The crystal itself is not a magical potion but more of a medium that we use to magnify our own desires and intentions.”
For Lim, crystals also offer something more. For one, each piece literally tells the earth’s history, having gone through years of geological changes. What may seem like pretty swirly patterns can sometimes be the result of a volcanic eruption. (And if one thinks of these crystals as just airy-fairy shiny stones, he also pointed out they’re often simply higher-end quality versions of minerals used everyday objects like computers.)
These so-called healing properties may or may not work but we can’t deny the placebo effect it has on people.
Another way people can view crystals is to see them as natural artworks, like how one would admire a painting, he says.
“It can similar to how you would admire a painting for its colours and forms. Artworks are lifeless until you give it meaning,” said Lim.
He added: “We’re at the stage where most of us are still exploring (the world of crystals) and it’s not definitive. Before, people think it’s just for feng shui or that it’s expensive – but a two-dollar crystal can do so much metaphysically or psychologically.”
Whether or not crystals explode further into the mainstream anytime soon, these shiny things will still have people like Francis regularly scouring shops to add to her collection. And even Tan is thinking of getting more.
“I don’t think I’ll be getting those huge display pieces soon but I’m definitely thinking of getting the crystal stones. But I want to be more selective – it’s really about the connection you feel towards a piece.”