In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for gemstones in jewellery. This is due to a multitude of reasons. Many people believe that it is simply the beauty and the colour of gemstones that have made them so popular, but others look at gemstones from a spiritual perspective. Many gems have spiritual meanings and healing properties, factors which encourage people to invest in them. This is the case for millennials, who seem to be delving into ancient spirituality, like crystal healing and meditation practices.

The beauty and spirituality of gemstones are increasing the demand for gemstones and boosting jewellery companies’ sales. But, do gemstones’ healing powers exist or are they fake? Are they simply being made up by jewellery companies to increase sales?

The history of gemstones

Gemstones have been around for centuries and have been used in jewellery since the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Egyptians. These two cultures have been noted as discovering the majority of the gemstones we know today, and developed the belief of gems having powers. These powers include healing, calming and protective powers, and gems were also used medicinally.

From 1200 - 1500 AD, gemstones became popular, as jewellery became more embellished and revolutionary. Many believed gems had supernatural properties and protective values, so they were set into metals to touch the skin of the wearer, so the magic of the gem would pass to them. Gems were polished rather than cut, keeping their shape but enhancing their colour. The 17th Century saw the gemstone trade grow, with naval ships sailing to countries to trade in gems. From then on, gemstones have been a big factor in jewellery.

Gemstones also convert to birthstones, where each month of the year has an associated gem. According to Wonderopolis, experts believe that birthstones can be traced back to the Bible. In Exodus 28, Moses gave instructions for making special garments for the High Priest of the Hebrews. A breastplate was made that contained twelve gemstones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, and later they became associated with the twelve months of the year.

Powers, chakras & energy

Gemstones and birthstones are believed to have many healing and protective properties, as well as aligning the chakras and connecting to a person due to their birth month and zodiac sign. In jewellery, some jewellers incorporate the holistic properties of stones, to further enhance the sensory experience of the wearer and encourage a feeling of content and well being. According to Retailing Insight:

“Chakras are circular petal-shaped fields of energy lying across seven different points on the human spine. The energy associated with each chakra has an effect on the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual levels of consciousness.”

The seven chakras have spiritual properties and are associated with colours. Colours have meaning and effect moods and healing, therefore the colours of chakras match up with the colours of gemstones. For example, the crown chakra is associated with spirituality and the gemstone that links is amethyst.

The majority of the public and especially millennials, like to feel connected to the universe in some way, and gemstones are something that does this. Due to their colour, spirituality and links to zodiac signs and birth months, gemstones have become a big part of jewellery buying. However, there is some debate that gemstones don’t work and that making a gemstone into jewellery diminishes their powers.

Is the effect of gemstones real?

Gemstones are undeniably a great marketing and selling opportunity for jewellery brands, due to their beauty and spiritual connection. But, if a consumer buys a product due to its healing and spiritual properties, how can they be sure it is true?

In an article published by TIME Magazine, gemstones and crystals were recorded to have healing properties dependent to the eye of the beholder. In a 2001 study, presented at the European Congress of Psychology in Rome, 80 people completed a questionnaire, designed to “gauge their level of belief in “paranormal” phenomena.” Following the questionnaire, the participants were asked to meditate with real and fake crystals and afterwards, were asked if they felt any sensations from them. The results saw that:

“Both the real and fake crystals produced similar sensations, and people who tested high in the paranormal-belief questionnaire tended to experience greater sensations than those who scoffed at the paranormal.”

The study shows that it is more the power of suggestion than the actual powers of the crystals or gemstones. However, many consumers report that they have felt many sensations and positive impacts in their lives after having bought a gemstone.

Gemstones and the jewellery industry

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Showcase has been running since 1955 and is a trade show exhibiting rare and beautiful gems and crystals, running in January and February every year in Arizona. The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is the single highest revenue-producing event for the Tucson economy, with an estimated economic impact of $120 million, in 2018.

With more people introducing spiritual practices into their life, gemstones are becoming more popular. The power and beauty of the gems are in the eye of the beholder, so it is hard to get a definitive answer on whether they work or not. Gemstone jewellery is not only colourful and beautiful, but gives the wearer comfort, strength and enhances their beliefs. Gemstones and their spiritual meanings are strong and positive ways to connect to the universe. Whether you believe in it or not, gemstones are personal to each person and gives a sense of belonging.