What Energy Workers Need to Know About Gems/Crystals: Interview with a Gemologist
Why this article needed to be written:
One of my main mission’s in my work has become to encourage change in the way people view and work with crystal/gemstone energy. Because I feel very deeply a massive overhaul needs to be considered in energy medicine where gems and crystals are concerned.
I chose Gemstone Energy Medicine as my path for using gem energy to positively affect our mind, body, emotions and spirit because of its principles that resonated with me unlike everything else I had come across. What drew me in is each stone is looked at as an individual, with a unique expression of its energy and specific applications that have distinct continuity from an ultimate spiritual goal, to the layers of the energy field to the effects on the physical body. But the two very distinct factors that separate Gemstone Energy Medicine or Gemstone Therapy from other practices is the gem shape (spherical) and the quality. A lot can be said and debated about gem shape among different practices but what really needs to be discussed is the quality of gemstones that are being using in energy work and spiritual practices even outside the GEM modality.
Quality is the one aspect ignored in majority by energy workers, practitioners, spiritualists, new agers etc. Many people can understand that if you choose to use essential oils as a method for natural healing you need to consider the quality, purity and source of the oils. If you choose to heal certain aspects of your health via your diet, people can understand why the quality and purity of the foods chosen would be important. But it seems to be that this is not taken seriously when it comes to vibrational tools like gemstones and crystals.
This is why I’m honored to share this interview with Graduate Gemologist, Eranel Katz detailing his experience as someone with not only a scientific background but one in energy medicine and spiritualism as well. Katz has worked for therapeutic gemstone company Gemisphere and currently owns his own company, Gemaceuticals. His expertise and perspective sheds light on current industry practices and it is my hope, encourages people to think more critically and consciously about the energetic tools they choose to put on the body effecting their own or their client’s energy field.
Firstly, can you give us a background of your life and work involving gemstones?
My name is Eranel Katz, I am a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America based in Carlsbad, CA, the foremost authority in gemology in the world. My family has been in the therapeutic gemstone field since 1988 with a well-established reputation of quality and expertise in both therapeutic and the spiritual aspects of crystals and gems, as well as the qualitative importance of their gemological attributes.
My entire life has been dedicated to learning the energetic and scientific attributes of gemstones and crystals. Since 2008, I have graded upwards of thousands of gemstones for my family’s therapeutic gemstone company, Gemisphere and for myself. Traveling globally to the core gem hubs of the world, primarily India and Eastern Asia. Exploring thousands of suppliers, hundreds of thousands of gemstones and minerals from every kind on Earth. For energetic work gems must be pure and untreated, as their energetic and spiritual mission is specific to the gemstone and mineral composition. It’s very important to acquire the gemstones raw, for quality control purposes in regards to treatments, or to know your supplier and your supplier’s supplier, in which the gems were originally mined. Suffice to say, knowing your supply chain while building deep relationships of trust is the absolute middle pillar of a successful gemstone company selling therapeutic grade gemstones.
Spiritually, since I was a child I have studied many religions deeply, both in practice and intellectual theory. In the end, I only cared about one thing, the truth. This pursuit of spiritual truth is the purity and inter-laying fibers of my company and the core of who I am. I feel somewhat of a rebel in the “new age” community because I am so scientific based, but I always believed spirituality and consciousness are just advanced levels of physics science has not caught up to yet.
How common is it for people to be misled into buying imitation gems/crystals?
You would think with the rise of the internet there would be more awareness towards imitation gemstones, synthetics and treatments, but this is still a major issue plaguing many buyers of gemstones. I personally see it almost every day. Whether a friend is showing me a beautiful new mala they got that’s made of glass and plastic (though they were told it has the same healing attributes of the natural stone), seeing other gemstone retailers online, or admiring someone’s large turquoise necklace in the grocery aisle only to notice its completely made of plastic or dyed Howlite.
To give some background, a synthetic gemstone is a gem that mimics the same mineral and crystal structure of a gemstone but was made in a laboratory. An imitation gemstone you will see more commonly among semi-precious gemstones (every gemstone except Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire). The most common imitation used is glass. Glass can be made to look like any color and therefore any transparent or translucent gemstone can be imitated. If the color of the rock or gem has a fake look to it, it probably is. Large pieces of rough, or even beads that have perfect clarity, are easy ways to determine its glass. Even the highest quality gemstones have tiny inclusions of water, air bubbles, or foreign mineral inclusions. Plastic and ceramic are the second most commonly used imitation medium which is typically used to imitate Turquoise or Lapis Lazuli. Howlite and Magnesite can be dyed nearly every color to also imitate gemstones such as Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, and Sugilite. Quartz and Agate also contain a slew of treatments. Agate is often dyed and Quartz is often heavily treated with chemical oxides inducing a gem called “Aqua Aura”. Sometimes these Aqua Aura gems are so cheap, (if found in beads) that they are actually just glass. This is easily detectable by observing the color that simply does not exist anywhere in nature.
Can you explain common gemstone treatments?
(treatments are processes done to gemstones to improve their appearance, hiding their true quality)
There are some gemstones rarely having treatments, such as Rhodochrosite, Aquamarine and Tourmaline, but that does not mean Aquamarine cannot be heated or Tourmaline and Rhodochrosite cannot be imitated to be sold as something else. There is a multitude of kinds of gemstones that are most treated and each gemstone class has so many different kinds of treatments. Gem treatments are truly a massive part of the jewelry and gemstone industry and there are countless books and universities dedicated to not only the discussion and exploration of identifying ancient and current treatments methods such as dying and heating the gem, but a multitude of new treatments that are spotted on the market every year. I often see Quartz covered chemically with metal oxides which gives a rainbow luminescence look called aqua aura crystals. These for example, look so beautiful, but are 100% chemically treated, and in a way both mask and suffocate the energy of the crystal, rendering it non-therapeutic. Turquoise is also a very treated gemstone with dye and imitations used commonly. Nearly all Turquoise you see on the market is either not Turquoise at all or is dyed or coated with a clear plastic hardening agent to both enhance the gem’s color and keep the rock from breaking.
Other kinds of treatments are as follows; Bleaching, dye, heat, irradiation, fracture filling, surface modification, oiling, lattice diffusion, impregnation. These treatments are done to mislead the true quality of the gem and corrupt the vibration of it, some do more damage than others. It’s rare for gems to not have treatments, and if they don’t they may have imitations or synthetics.
Why should people who use gems/crystals for energetic and spiritual work care about treatments? Why does it matter from an energetic standpoint?
Gemstone Energy Medicine is a natural alternative form of energy healing. Just like any other medicine, it must be pure and of the right vibration to affect your subtle energy bodies correctly. This is why quality is the most important aspect of crystal healing. When discussing quality of the natural mineral or gemstone, one can deduce that all imitations or heavily treated gemstones are rendered non-therapeutic or contain minimal therapeutic value. This is because they are not the actual mineral and chemical composition or they contain such a low vibration of quality masked as something higher. I believe this is why many are instinctively attracted to crystals and gemstones, but typically at first acquire low quality gemstones, resulting in a poor experience with the gemstone or even none at all.
Are there any tips or warning signs you can give to help identify imitation or treated materials?
The first problem when you’re looking at crystals and gemstones is there’s simply no way you can accurately identify gemstones in front of you without experience or a large book of specific identifiers. Even for a gemologist you need either years of experience to know for example, how certain colors can only exist naturally. Even though there are seven colors of the rainbow, the spectrum is almost limitless in the different tones and hues and colors seen in gemstones. Some colors, for example, with Amethyst you can identify the origin of country, even down to the mine, just by the color and inclusions of the gem, similar to how wine connoisseurs have mastered their palate and can identify vineyards and country of origin by the simple sip. You have to have a lot of experience, quite simply.
But are there simple ways to identify? Yes, you need to use your first instinct. If the price is too low, if it looks too nice for the cost, this should tell you something. You want to make sure the supplier has been around for a while, check what other gemstones they are selling. If they’re selling a lot of other treated gemstones or glass or plastic beads, it’s a healthy assumption most of their quality is the same.
Out of all my years of going to gem shows, I’ve found that most suppliers only know what they are told by their suppliers, and have a limited scope of knowledge on gemstones themselves. Not all gemstone suppliers are equal. Some are born into it and have seen gemstones their entire life from the cutting process down to the trade shows. While others were given gemstones from family or friends who got them into it and they’re riding on their friend’s inventory and factories to sell. I would say at least 30% or more of suppliers at gem shows acquire their gemstones from the booth next to them. That’s astonishing to think, but the reality!
In the end, color is the most important identifier of a gemstone. However, asking hard questions, getting help from a gemologist, and being inquisitive are the best practices. Some questions you should ask a supplier of therapeutic gemstones are: How long have you been selling gemstones? Do you specialize in a specific mineral? Do these gemstones have treatments? If so, what are they and how can you identify them? (Have them show or explain it to you) Where do you get your gemstones? Do you have a factory or do you get them rough from a mine? How can you ensure the gems you are selling are natural and untreated?
What guidance could you give energy workers in search of trusted gemstone/crystal sources?
The internet is an incredible resource, but also one filled with many pitfalls, and is quite the maze when it comes to natural, untreated, therapeutic gemstones. If you are looking to work with any gemstone or crystal for therapeutic or spiritual use, quality is the most important factor, and there are very few companies out there I would recommend.
Many people find Gemaceuticals or other gemstone companies through referral, which is the best source of information as it comes directly from a friend or loved one. Social media is a wonderful place to find local gemstone companies and small businesses, however, many are just starting out and I have personally seen dozens of errors from other companies selling therapeutic gemstones regarding the gemstone not showing treatment disclosures or selling the wrong gemstone entirely. I recall looking at a new crystal healing company I found on Instagram, offering Rhodonite and calling it Rhodochrosite. This might seem like a small mistake because they sound similar, but their entire crystal structure, where they are mined, mineral makeup, and energetic frequency is very different. Many gemstones sometimes share similar mineral inclusions of color, such as Manganese in Rhodonite and Rhodochrosite, however, this company is doing a disservice to anyone seeking authentic, untreated, therapeutic gemstones. There are simply too many mistakes and errors currently out there from companies selling gemstones which are named incorrectly, have imitation gemstones still expressing the same claims of therapeutic effects and so forth.
Is there a particular message you think is really important to get across to the new age, spiritual and energy work community concerning gemstone/crystal materials and products?
Crystals have been an integral part of human evolution and development for millennia, but only recently have higher standards been placed on crystal healing and gemstone energy medicine. Through one’s spiritual journey, many have an innate interest or curiosity towards crystal healing. However, depending on the quality of gemstone they experience, will determine if they continue embracing the powerful energetic healing and transformational properties of gemstones, or move on without knowing their benefits. That’s why if one is searching for crystal healing in any manner, there is no greater importance than to ensure the quality and authenticity of the gemstones and minerals, which therein results in the truest healing experiences.
The Take Away:
After reading this interview I can understand how it all seems overwhelming and leaves you with a lot more questions. But that to me is the point and a good thing, to question! To introduce this idea that we as energy workers, holistic practitioners and spiritualists need to give more consciousness to the tools we are using and that means taking a hard look at who, where, what and how we acquire these energetic tools. That means asking a lot more question, pressuring sellers and suppliers to be held to a higher standard of knowledge and integrity.
This article was also so important for me to put out there because I want to hold the practitioners in my field to a higher standard. To have you start asking yourself some hard questions. Like, if you truly understand the nature of energy and frequency then what do you think is the consequence of using lead treated rubies, irradiated blue topaz and plastic turquoise on your clients? Will you bother to take time to find out if your gem/crystal tools are really just glass or plastic before using them on another paying client? We can make great change in the market and group mentality together on this widespread issue but first there needs to be an awareness. So I hope this catches your attention, makes you think and process, that you also recognize why this is important in terms of the energy work field and consider helping spread this awareness in the holistic community.
Erin Sikopoulos, LMT
Turn A New Leaf Massage & Energy Work
Natural Untreated Gemstone/Crystal Resources:
Gem Energy Medicine: Healing Body, Mind and Spirit
-By Michael Katz
Wisdom of the Gemstone Guardians
-By Michael Katz