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Jewelry historian, editor, and stylist Carol Woolton has long loved crystals—from her moss agate earrings to the large Madagascan rose quartz in her sitting room. But in recent years, the London-based British Vogue jewelry editor went from purely romancing these stones to researching them and their ever-growing, widespread appeal.
“I looked at the books on the market and thought none really resonated with me,” she says. “I think to me, like probably a lot of people, putting too much science in it takes the romance, the mystery, and the magic away—and I didn’t want a geology book. And at the other end of the spectrum was a little bit too what I say is woo-woo. I don’t believe if you put garnets on your head you’re going to cure a migraine. I wanted to know what I did believe, and I sort of set off on this exploration that took me everywhere.”
Woolton weaves historical analysis with expert interviews and the stories of empowered women sharing their experiences with these natural wonders in The New Stone Age: Ideas and Inspiration for Living with Crystals. Given the seismic shifts in daily living forced by COVID-19, the book serves even more than originally intended as a guide to thriving from the inside out.
“I couldn’t have known that when the book would be published, it would be in the middle of this pandemic,” she says, “and it was like, my God, this is kind of the worst time and the most interesting time for it come out. Because people are alone, they’re isolated, they’re desperate for that connection to nature. People have been locked inside, they’ve missed loved ones, they want connections, and I feel like it’s a really opportune time for it to have come out. It’s the time that everyone wants to think about their well-being and how to improve and their connection with human beings and the wider world.”
Everyone Wants to Know …
BN: Which stones can help us cope with stress in these anxiety-ridden—and very often tech-overloaded—times?
CW: I’ve got my black tourmaline here on my desk by my computer, and shungite is the same—that’s another black stone that kind of absorbs your own stress as well as the electromagnetic stress from your devices. I think we can all get overwhelmed by that. I know how I feel when I scroll through social media. We all do it for work, but the panic actually upsets me a bit. The black tourmaline gives you a bit of clarity and perspective, and it’s going to take all that negativity and get it away from you and act as a sort of buffer to bounce all of that out.
Some people seem to suck your energy away, so it’s like a filter for it, too. As I said in the book, it chucks out anything that you haven’t really invited in. So it can protect you in that way.
BN: You write about using agate—which occurs in a range of earthy colors—to revive plants and possibly revitalize your garden. How has that worked?
CW: My garden is blooming! And I have to say I just love moss agate. If I ever have a difficult meeting or a difficult day, or I have to do something that I’m nervous about, I find I always get drawn to my big pair of moss agate disc earrings. They’re the ones I go to. I always wear them. And they do the trick. I feel better prepared and more confident. They’re my familiar friends to go with me.
BN: How can we use purple amethyst to calm or contain emotional eating?
CW: I’m very good at helping people have a sense of boundary and containment. I spent time with this holistic health professional named Michael Skipwith. He works with a lot of severe trauma patients with post-traumatic stress disorder after combat in war. He said he really uses it as one of his tools to help people when their body and psyche have been fragmented. It’s literally having something to hold onto and sort of believe in. It helps with their sense of structure and in clearing trauma.
Again, I’m just trying to have a different response to a familiar mindset when you want to do something. It’s going to help put a new default set button on that mindset that takes you back to the addictive patterns. Maybe shove it on top of the fridge, and then every time you look at it, you think, hold on a minute. This is the intention: Get near the amethyst, step away from the peanut butter. And use it in that way. A lot of people put amethyst in their bedroom, too, under their pillows to soothe an overactive mind and leave space for more positive things to come into your head and maybe more creative things.
BN: So various stones placed strategically throughout our homes—especially during lockdowns—can change our minds and thus change our lives?
CW: Yes. They make you think of the wider world—which, when you’ve been locked inside, is so important—that the earth perseveres, that there is a sense of permanence. I think all our anxiety levels have shot up. If you just look at a stone and think, “we will persevere, we will survive,” you can use these stones as a comfort.
If you’re feeling more relaxed, your cortisol levels drop, you feel calmer. And mindfulness has evidence-based benefits, and that can have a knock-on effect. You feel emotionally calm and you’re not making decisions based on panic and fear. You’ll make better decisions—and that’s a better way to live your life.