This quarter, I would like to talk to you about the things that people do to crystals, some of which make them better and some of which impair their energy. Sometimes, we use an
accelerated natural process and other times, we mimic that process to make the crystal appear to do what it never was meant to.
Cleaning is typically the first thing that happens to crystals to remove dirt and other debris. Any number of methods are used ranging from just soap and water to chemical treatments to remove iron oxide and a host of other coatings. The most common is oxalic acid which removes the iron that coats most of the crystals ... and it removes some of the calcite coating and a few
other things. These coatings protect the crystals during their growth within the earth and removal of the coating enhances the energy of the underlying quartz. But beware; acid treatments like this can also change the color of minerals like calcite - that's how many of the odd colors are created! The energy shifts and although not necessarily a bad thing, it is good to know.
Oiling and wetting are other common means of making a massive (non-crystalline) mineral look better. It simulates the polishing process so that you can see the colors well. Many things are shown wet for that reason and the seller should tell you that the pictures are of the wet product. It doesn't change the energy in the least but does affect the appearance. Oiling is more of a problem. It can be washed off, so the energy is unaffected, but what it does do is make a rough surface and look smooth. It also helps to hide mineral deposits like thin coatings of calcite that really stand out on a smoky quartz for instance. Again, oiling and wetting don't
change the energy, but it is something to know before you buy so you get the quality you pay for.
Repairing and stabilization are other ways to create a nice crystalline presentation. The big amethyst cathedrals are in fact geodes on a large scale. The outside skin is fragile and often cannot bear the weight of the beautiful crystals, so these are often treated with resin on the outside so that strength is added to support the crystals. This resin is generally tinted green like the color of the celadonite that often coats the geode. The larger the cathedral, the more likely it will be stabilized, simply because of the weight. You won't necessarily notice it unless you look and energetically, it doesn't affect the amethyst. Sometimes, there are cracks in the cathedral and these are repaired with super glue! Large crystals of any kind may also be fractured during their extraction from the Earth and these are similarly repaired. Super glue does affect the energies and you can see it easily with an ultraviolet or black light. If the crystal or cathedral seems to be too inexpensive, it never hurts to check to ensure that you are getting a good deal.
Polishing and tumbling are other popular treatments for chipped, broken or massive (non-crystalline) minerals. These add a beauty and smooth ragged energies from the damage, provided that the crystal is honored. A good polisher will not make a Dow crystal out of one
that never was a Dow, but will faithfully follow the lines of the original crystal. Massive pieces show wonderful color and softer energies when polished - not as jagged or scattered and these are better suited for healing work. Polished energy is more regulated and directed.
Cleaving is something that happens in nature and man mimics the process. This is usually done with calcite and fluorite. If you drop a calcite and break it, the shards will be natural rhombohedrons. Fluorite also cleaves into natural octahedrons. Of course, you can find them in nature, but nearly 100% of the ones sold are cleaved by man, encouraging a break along the
natural crystal lattice. The energy in these crystals is excellent as you haven't done anything to them that nature wouldn't have.
Irradiation is yet another process that mimics what happens within the Earth. The Earth has sources of natural radiation within it from minerals containing uranium, radon, etc. Clear quartz that is exposed to radiation becomes smoky and the more radiation, the darker the smoky. This natural process is one that some have chosen to accelerate. Primarily, this is done with Arkansas quartz. There is no natural radiation in Arkansas and yet you will see some Arkansas quartz that is so dark as to be nearly opaque. When the radiation is concentrated and in short bursts, it is in quantities that are far in excess of what the Earth naturally does. These poor crystals are nearly lifeless - occasionally they are brought back, but generally, they are just pretty and nothing more. Now, there are dark, dark ones from Earth (called Morion) and they were naturally formed and do allow energy to flow - you will immediately notice the difference between what the Earth created and what man created.
Coating to get the popular aura colors is another similar intervention. Precious metals like gold, silver and platinum are literally impregnated into the top layers of the crystal using lasers. This mimics a natural process in the Earth that allows for the energy of the crystal to naturally blend, however the laser process does not. These aura crystals are pretty and have markedly different energies. Depending on the process, the energies can be shifted slightly or dramatically, so these will be ones that you will require your judgment. The Aqua Aura crystals are very nice energy and I find them musical!
Seeding is another rather insidious intervention by man and it usually happens with things like amber. Amber is sap from ancient trees that has hardened into the amber colored solid that we easily recognize. The outside looks rather weathered and it is a labor of love to carefully polish it and reveal the luster and elegance of the amber. Unfortunately, some have found that adding
things like snakes, scorpions and like to melted amber brings a higher price. These added things are exceedingly rare in amber! And the "inhabitant" usually looks "posed" - no snake naturally coils and awaits the liquid amber to cover him! Fossils are another intervention as there have been great strides in casting and "aging" unless you are an expert, it is difficult to tell a cast from the real thing.
Heat treating is yet another way to produce different colors within a crystal. Heat treatment also mimics a natural process within the earth. As an example, amethyst that is exposed to
high heat loses its color and becomes citrine. Nearly all of the citrine cathedrals, geode sections and roots (single crystals extracted from the cluster) coming from Brazil are heat-treated amethyst! Often they contain cacoxinite that is golden-brown naturally, but turns maroon during this process. As a note, there are natural citrines from Brazil and the Congo and many other places and they are lovely golden ones and perfectly natural. Another example is silver topaz, heat-treated to produce lovely shades of blue. Tanzanite is another, heat-treated to deepen the color. There are many others. The energies do shift, similar to the ones in nature, but it is about getting your money's worth. It is important to know.
Man-made stones are the last category. For decades, man has observed how Mother Nature makes her crystals and man has mimicked the process. Ruby, sapphire, spinel, zircon, diamond and a host of others are all available now for jewelry as well as scientific work. The advantage manmade minerals have is that there are no (or few) impurities, thus they are ultra clear and the energy patterns are predictable which makes them useful for lasers and other scientific efforts. Reputable dealers will tell you if the stone is man-made. These stones have energies and they can be very useful for crystal healing and Reiki when you want a very pure energy for a particular treatment. Most of the bismuth available is man-made in the sense that pure bismuth is grown into a crystal under conditions of pressure and heat and the result is the wonderful iridescent display that you may be familiar with. So, the choice is yours as to whether or not to work with natural crystals or man-made ... explore the energy differences and judge accordingly.
I hope this all has helped. Please feel free to ask questions and I'll try to get answers to you quickly.