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From the Hope diamond to the shiny bits in Folgers coffee, crystals have always held the power to fascinate, inspiring soothsayers and adorning the crowns of emperors throughout history. But crystals aren’t just a bunch of pretty facets -- they glimmer with useful properties. They lend strength to worked metals, run our timepieces and drive the digital displays and fluorescent bulbs of modern life.

Crystals can grow in a countertop pie tin, a high-tech lab or a fissure deep in the Earth. The recipe is deceptively simple: Take a cloud of gas, a pool of solution or a glop of melted rock, overstuff it with the right mineral or compound, then bake in a pressure cooker at somewhere between room temperature and the heat of molten lava.

Most minerals occur naturally as crystals. Every crystal has an orderly, internal pattern of atoms, with a distinctive way of locking new atoms into that pattern to repeat it again and again. The shape of the resulting crystal -such as a cube or a six-sided form -mirrors the internal arrangement of the atoms.

As crystals grow, differences in temperature and chemical composition cause fascinating variations. When many different crystals grow near each other, they mesh together to form a conglomerated mass. The internal arrangement of atoms determines all the minerals’ chemical and physical properties, including colour. Light interacts with different atoms to create different colours.

Many minerals are colourless in their pure state; however, impurities of the atomic structure such as chromium, iron and titanium cause colour.

Quartz, for example, is normally colorless, but occurs in a range of colors from pink to brown to the deep purple of amethyst, depending on the number and type of impurities in its structure. In its colorless state, quartz resembles ice. Scientists typically describe crystals as “growing,� even though they are not alive. In subterranean gardens, they branch and bristle as trillions of atoms connect in regular three-dimensional patterns. Each crystal starts small and grows as more atoms are added. Many grow from water rich in dissolved minerals, but they also grow from melted rock and even vapor. Under the influence of different temperatures and pressures, atoms combine in an amazing array of crystal shapes. It is this variety and perfection of form and symmetry that has long drawn scientists to the study of minerals.

Once crystals are fully formed, they can be used in different ways, from jewellery to healing crystals. The properties of crystals vary, from healing crystals, to balancing energy, to spiritual energy. Clear Quartz is a master healer crystal, and may be used for any condition. It is thought to stimulate the immune and circulatory systems, enhancing energy flow and bringing the body into balance. The Quartz also acts as a deep soul cleanser, purifying and enhancing the body’s internal structure and surrounding subtle bodies to connect the physical dimension with the mind. It focuses on inner negativity and stimulates positive thoughts and feelings in its place. Because Clear Quartz has the prismatic ability to vibrate its energy at all of the color frequencies, it not only harmonizes all of the chakras, but can teach us how to vibrate our seven chakra centers simultaneously while maintaining perfect alignment with the light. The evolution of a crystal from its molecular journey to being used as a spiritual healer and protector is what gives crystals depth beyond their uses in jewellery and materialistic means.