Story and Photos by Jessica Graham
Crystals, specifically quartz, are a hot trend in fashion, dominating the runways of designer labels such as Chanel and Prada, trickling down to more affordable fashion outlets like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21.
Ranging from rounded, crystal-clear stones to a colorful, multi-faceted stones, crystals are versatile, abundant and, based on the type, affordable fashion accessory. While crystals are shiny, eye-catching accessory for some designers, to others, crystals hold a deeper significance.
Jewelry makers, like Josh Sisler–a Santa Cruz native living in San Fracisco–use crystals for a variety of reasons, including stabilizing energy fields, clearing Chakra zones, staying grounded and to heighten spiritual sensitivity.
“I keep crystals on me at all times, because they work with the energetic field of the body, the auric system and the chakras,” says Sisler. “If you have crystals on you that resonate with you it aligns the crystal chakras.”
The idea that crystals hold healing or energetic property has been around for ages, but little to no scientific evidence supports these claims. According to Power Treasures, an online mecca for crystal-related inquiries, crystals were used by the Egyptians for protective power. Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese healers sought crystals for their healing powers. The Mayans used crystals for spiritual healing and to diagnose diseases.
However, despite a strong historical use and lacking scientific backing, crystal fans, like Sisler, wholeheartedly believe in their benefits and powers. Read about crystals from three different perspectives.
In the middle of the San Francisco’s Union Street Festival, a young man lays down a blanket, and lovingly places several crystals–collected by hand in Arkansas– on display for passersby. Each crystal has a unique appearance, and equally unique story.
Josh Sisler, a local resident intrigued by the juxtaposition of a mystic-looking jewelry maker at a mainstream city event, stops walking through the festival and asks the young man for the most powerful crystal he has. The man carefully places a smokey quartz crystal in Sisler’s hands, unknowingly sparking a spiritual awakening.
Sisler returns home to his flat, sets up an altar to showcase the crystal, and immediately begins to notice he is being guided by the crystal itself through different levels of awakening. He takes a small dose of psilocybin, a psychedelic compound produced by certain species of mushrooms, and through the energetic properties of the smoky quartz, finds himself in uncharted territory.
“I had an out -of-body experience,” says Sisler, his youthful blue eyes wide open. “My third, fourth and fifth dimensional consciousness all merged and it was a very powerful awakening. I was able to directly connect to the earth again.”
A year later, Sisler, now considered a crystal expert by many of his friends, is dedicated to understanding crystals, their powers and how we can use them to make the world a better place. According to Sisler, crystals were used thousands of years ago by the Atlantians to create renewable energy sources, store information about Earth and keep the body in energetic alignment.
Crystals located at vortex points (identified using sacred geometric mapping) hold concentrated energy that could be used to tap into the Akashic records–the database of every action or thought that exists. In essence, the earth documents itself.
“Direct guidance from the stones is how I learned all of this information,” says Sisler. “ All the information is available on the modern day akashic record–the internet. We can tap into these fields with the crystal pineal gland in our brains.”
While Akashic information has long been inaccessible to the masses, Sisler believes that crystals are our answer to retrieving ancient information and getting back in touch with the Earth.
Sisler is currently perfecting his wire wrapping craft to make crystals more user friendly. After having a vision that he would find crystals in the Santa Cruz Mountains, he travelled there and discovered a large cluster of Merkabite Calcite–his favorite crystal. He makes necklaces and other jewelry pieces using a wire wrapping technique and various metals, such as brass, silver and gold.
Crystals are becoming popular in mainstream fashion trends, but Sisler sees that as a positive opportunity to educate people about the properties of crystals. “Urban outfitters is trying to work with it, but it’s all a trend,” Sisler said. “I think it’s good that they are working with crystals because hopefully people will start to notice that energy and not just use it as a fashion statement.”
Sisler plans to continue following the path the crystals present him, and teach people along the way. Sisler finds ceremonies and workshops are the best way to share his passion for crystals.
“Its the best way for me to communicate with people who are accepting this new way of thinking, says Sisler. “I also like to set up anywhere I can, the side of the street as well, because its a way of getting out to the collective consciousness.”
In a warmly lit apartment above a corner market in Bernal Heights, about eight young women crowd around a table of dried apricot slices wrapped in prosciutto, Brie and crackers. Between laughs and stories about old times, the women peruse a table near the window intricately decorated with earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces.
The jewelry has a unique look. Several pieces of crystal and other colorful stones meld with a range of metals to produce a flashy, yet vintage look. Some stones are wrapped around the circumference with chain, while others hang simply from a small hook at the top of the crystal.
A slender woman with sharp features and slicked back black hair stands in the center of the room after several minutes of socializing and a few group sing-alongs to the Bee Gees. She quietly introduces herself as Fatima Fleming, the owner and jewelry designer of Sea Pony Couture–a San Francisco-based jewelry company.
“My life has gone in many different directions since I started to do jewelry,” says Fleming during a party featuring her latest work. “I made belly-dancing clothing and had a hat company at one time. At one point I was in Hawaii selling wristbands. I got back into jewelry because of my fascination with vintage.”
Fleming, who has been making jewelry since she was a freshman in high school in 1984, enjoys working with a variety of materials, including crystals and other stones like peacock pyrite, smoky quartz, faceted agate and titanium quartz.
Fleming believes crystals and stones are becoming more popular in fashion trends and attributes some of that popularity, at least in California, to KittinHawk.–a Los Angeles-based couture micro label. KittinHawk popularized using crystals, specifically quartz, setting the bar for other designers, according to Fleming.
Fleming says that several of her customers claim to feel good when good when wearing her quartz crystal pieces.
“I think some people would very much laugh at crystals having healing energy or properties and I don’t laugh,” says Fleming, “but I also don’t stand for anything and don’t state that. I do state, however, that when people wear my necklaces, especially crystals over their heart they always talk about how good it feels.”
In Flemings eyes, any energetic property someone experiences is a result of how they interact with the crystal, or anything for that matter. It isn’t necessarily the crystals causing the effect, according to Fleming, it’s the person.
“I do feel that anything you believe to hold power for you does hold power,” says Fleming. “With that said if you are going to use crystals, make them your own. Put your own energy into them and that is what you will get out of it.”
After a long day at work, Drew Shugart hops on his bike and pedals to his apartment in the Piedmont neighborhood of Oakland. Three blocks away from the Claremont Hotel, where he works, a car suddenly cuts Shugart off and he crashes to the street to avoid a collision.
Other than several stitches under his chin, and a broken wrist, he is unscathed. A large circular bruise lies in the center of his chest. It is the only bruise on his body.
Looking back on the accident, Shugart recalls that the phantom amethyst quartz necklace he was wearing moved up towards the top of his chest as he crashed. While the science to measure the power of crystal is insufficient, events such as these spike curiosity about their properties and what they are capable of.
“We are moving away from the whole religion thing and that is opening up this spiritual world that’s completely different than any other place we have ever known. You can think of these things to help guide you through it, or you can think that they don’t do anything,” said Shugart.
Shugart incorporates crystals into his everyday life, by wrapping the stones in metal wire, which he as been doing for close to a year. He choses the stones from a local stone shop, or from friends who purchase them from around the world. Before starting jewelry, he decorated hats with pins and other materials.
One of his most popular pieces, is a mans hat with a large crystal poking through the brim. Soon after he started wearing the hat to local electronic music events, other people began asking about them. Shugart created his first fully commissioned piece about three weeks ago.
“I can tell you the moment I started wearing the hat with the quartz on my forehead that I felt an uplift in my mood and a change in my attitude,” says Shugart. “I have also noticed a change since I stopped wearing it so much.”
Shugart notices more and more stonework popping up in his Oakland and San Francisco circles. People are doing more than just making jewelry. According to Shugart, creating personal at-home altars that showcase the crystals is getting more and more popular.
While crystals may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Shugart reminds us that you get what you give.
“Crystals put out what you put into them,” says Shugart. “If you’re always in a bad mood, your crystals are going to perpetuate that. If you try to think positively, they will keep that energy flowing naturally.”
Dan Tarro neels firmly on a leather couch next to a large window in his impeccably decorated apartment. Perfectly placed potted plants are spread intermittently around the room and the smell of sage hangs in the air.
As the sun sets, light floods into the room, illuminating the crystals he has sitting on his coffee table. Seeing an opportunity he reaches his hand up to his ear, puts his fingers near his lobes, and plops out a nickel-sized Burmese amber gauged earring.
After grabbing the earring on the opposite side, he flips back his long brown hair and lifts the earrings towards the light to examine the details of the amber. The rare dark color of the amber glows with the dwindling light.
“For crystal healing you need to tune into what you need,” says Tarro. “I always smoke weed so I am attracted to heavy, grounding stones.”
Tarro, a restaurant server at Fisherman’s Wharf, uses grounding stones, like amber and jasper, to align to a more stable energy. His passion for crystals formed when he moved to Coachella Valley, says Tarro.
At first Tarro like crystals just for their asthetic, but his curiosity about the world left him wanting to know more. He started taking clases at PKOK, an alternative clothing store in San Francisco’s Haight district. Classes, taught by David Tiger in the back of the shop, ranged from drum circles to crystal wrapping, according to Tarro.
While Tarro continues to learn more about crystals, he also takes issue with the hippie-counter culture that supports it.
“I don’t fully subscribe to the overly-airy vibe that a lot of crystal people and new age people do,” says Tarro. “ I don’t think it’s grounded enough.“