Crystal healing, jewellery, semi-precious stones

Snowflake Obsidian – a stone for our time?

‘New Age’ or old world wisdom? Could crystals, rocks and minerals help to support us by giving us an extra boost in these strange, isolating and challenging times?

In fact, recognition of the power of crystals, minerals and stones is both old and incredibly modern. From ancient man, who used Whitby Jet as a protective talisman, to modern-day scientists who use them in everything from lasers to watches, crystals have been a part of our lives.

So could crystals help us now, in this time of crisis? If so, which do we choose? It really depends on the nature of our personal challenge and what stone we are instinctively drawn to, but let’s start with isolation from family and friends, which is causing such emotional hardship for so many people right now.

My top choice for helping us cope with the impact of isolation, is Snowflake Obsidian.

What is Snowflake Obsidian?

Obsidian is a black volcanic glass which was used in prehistoric times (also ‘north of the wall’ for Game of Thrones fans) as a weapon, because it has extremely sharp edges when worked. It is formed when lava cools and hardens very quickly, leaving no time to pick up any of the impurities which are common to other ‘crystals’. Perhaps for obvious reasons, it has always been strongly associated with protection (NB: impurities are not ‘bad’ – just different!).

Snowflake Obsidian is its gentler cousin, if you like. When lava cools more slowly, a type of quartz crystal can form on the surface, giving it the appearance of snowflakes. It is said to help us cope with change and reduce fear, helping to ground and tune in to what we really need, rather than reacting to stress and anxiety. It is believed to help deal with isolation specifically by helping us to see how we can make the most of it, perhaps even help to make it work for us in some way. I was reminded of this when HM The Queen suggested in her address to the nation on 6 April that this is “an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation”. It’s the same sort of idea.

Plus – it’s PRETTY!

How does it work?

It’s no good just plonking your lovely Snowflake Obsidian on your desk and hoping for a miracle. That isn’t really how it works. You need to handle it (hold it in your non-dominant hand) use it as a worry stone, put it in your pocket (or your bra if you like – not you, fellas) study its pattern. Just familiarise yourself with it, remember what it can do, and ‘tune in’. Think of it as a partnership with a friend – a seriously ancient friend, from the hottest fires deep under the earth’s crust. How cool is that?!

There’s more: crystals can pick up all sorts of ‘psychic gunk’ from those who have handled them before, so they need to be cleansed before you use them, either by rinsing under running water, or putting on a window ledge under moonlight. Remember to give your crystal a rinse regularly to freshen it up, especially if you handle it often (which you should).

And remember…

Many of the devices of modern life, on which we all rely – computers, TVs, radios, medical equipment, lasers, watches, satellites, hair straighteners (yes, really) all rely on the power of crystals in them in some shape or form. If crystals work for them, just think what they could do for you.

jewellery, sea glass

The Magic of Mermaid Tears

It can take a long, long time for mother nature to produce just the right piece of sea glass to make a perfect piece of jewellery. Decades of natural tumbling on ocean tides eventually turns what was once scrap glass into lovely frosted gems, perfect for making beautiful jewellery which is both rare and precious. It’s easy to see why these alluring gifts from the sea are sometimes called ‘mermaid tears’.

Almost all the sea glass in my jewellery has been hand-collected by my partner, Clive, and me from the beautiful beaches of Northumberland. And, let me tell you, you have to collect a lot of it before you can find two pieces that are a close enough match to make a pair of earrings. It’s that scarcity which makes them so precious and desirable, of course.

Seaham, in Northumberland, is something of a mecca for sea glass enthusiasts. Not long after the end of the First World War, a glass factory on the cliffs there closed its doors, dumping all its scrap into the sea. This has eventually become most of the treasure which is washed up on local shores today – if you can find it.

The place to look is on the strand – that line of flotsam and jetsam left behind by the retreating tide, especially after a storm. A pebbly beach is usually best, but not always. What’s certainly true though, is that where you find one piece, you will usually find more – it’s mainly just a question of just re-focussing your eyes. You won’t be on your own either because, when you forage for sea glass, you become part of a special community. You can spot fellow sea glass hunters by what I call the ‘lumbago walk’ – people walking very slowly, upper back and neck hunched, examining every inch of sand, completely oblivious to what’s going on around them. Seriously, I once spent so long beach-combing like this that my back went into spasm and I couldn’t move for about a week. Collecting sea glass is a serious business!

Of course, there’s an element of competition – you don’t want someone else to find the very piece of glass which would have made a beautiful pendant, or a piece in that rare rich blue everyone hopes to find. And you may have to be restrained from mugging someone who is lucky enough to find a piece of especially rare and precious red glass just a few feet from where you’re standing. But there’s also a real sense of camaraderie – no-one can resist talking about what they collect, and what they do with their sea glass, whether they make pictures, models, jewellery or just put it in a pretty bottle on a sunny windowsill.

It was when I was out beach-combing for sea glass that I was reminded of the kindness of strangers. I was staying in the north of Northumberland and had decided to make the trip to Seaham, further south. The day I had allocated for this turned out to be thoroughly miserable – windy, grey and wet. But the tide was right and a mission is, after all, a mission.

A local chap, clad in waterproof jacket and shorts and out walking his dog, expressed some curiosity about why I was going down to the beach in such filthy weather. When I told him, he was kind enough to give me some tips on where to look for glass, before disappearing off in the opposite direction.

After two hours getting soaked and with very little to show for it, I passed the same man coming back in the opposite direction. “How have you got on?” he asked. By way of answer I held up my plastic bag, flapping pathetically in the wind with just a few fragments of glass rattling around in the bottom. “Well you’d better have this then,” he said tipping the contents of his own, very full bag of glass, into mine. “Can’t have you going home empty-handed!”


Welcome to 5 Elements Jewellery!

Rock pool

Thank you for joining me.

I really hope you enjoy browsing through my jewellery collection and reading the blogs I’ll be posting here. I will be writing about the gorgeous materials I’m privileged to work with, the inspiration behind 5 Elements Jewellery, and the people I meet along the way.

You may be wondering what the lovely rock pool above has to do with my jewellery – well, I’ll tell you. All semi-precious stones, sea shells and sea glass are linked in some way with the elements of earth, air, fire and water, and this beautiful, magical pool, in my favourite sandy cove, encapsulates all of them: earth is represented in spectacular fashion by this enormous boulder; air, by the breeze which gently ripples the surface of the pool; fire, by the heat of the sun on a glorious August day; and water – well, that speaks for itself.

People have been fascinated by semi-precious stones for thousands of years. From those earliest times right up to the present day, stones and minerals have been used as tools, carved, worn as jewellery, or collected simply for their beauty and mystique. They are rich in symbolism and vast tomes have been written about them. I read as much about them as I can get my hands on, from their structure, composition and hardness to their folklore, history and metaphysical attributes.

It is a fascinating, beautiful, magical world, and I hope you will come and explore it with me.