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Crystal alchemy

6th July, 2016 Miscellaneous

Ancient Egyptians considered glass to be in the same league as precious gems and metals, that the process of creating glass stimulated special and priceless magical powers. []

glassI recently came across a fascinating paper on faking crystals. A process with which I was familiar in the modern world, but this was written back in ancient Egypt. I knew about faience, of course. Fake turquoise made from crushed quartz with added colouring. There are literally thousands of artefacts made from this material in museums all around the world. ‘The process of creating faience was perceived as inherently stimulating power to the material, in particular a kind of super-fertility power, thus making it a favored material for the creation of amulets.’ [] Artefacts were also made from a coloured cement-like material covered with transparent quartz glaze to simulate the much prized but so expensive lapis lazuli. But there were recipes in the ancient papyri for creating emerald, ruby, beryl, amethyst, sunstone. Even carnelian, that stone so beloved of the ancient Egyptians amulet makers but which in its natural raw state was in plentiful supply in the country. So why fake it?

In one papyrus alone there are seventy one separate instructions for the creation of imitation ‘precious’ stones – and instructions on how to cleanse and prepare other stones. Most of those stones were what we today call semi-precious. King Tut was buried with what is mostly glass jewellery – set in pure gold.

Fabulous fake

Fabulous fake. King Tut’s winged scarab (centre) is Libyan Gold Tektite, but are those real carnelians and lapis lazuli or fake? Actually it appears they are glass. But does it matter?

Egyptian jewellers used one of nature’s own ‘fakes’. Libyan Glass Tektite, impact glass most probably created when a meteorite slammed into the earth fusing with sand creating a vast strew field in the remote desert.

The strewfield recreated

The strewfield recreated.

‘Analyses of both major and trace elements of the glass and of the Nubian Sandstone upon which it rests, together with the stratification visible in numerous pieces, have revealed that the Nubian Sandstone is a suitable parent material for Libyan Desert glass and suggests that the glass could be of impact origin. What is not yet understood is the mechanism that produced, momentarily, heat intense enough to melt surface rock or weathered debris. For the quartz-rich Nubian Sandstone, the melting temperature would be about 2,800°F.’    [dailytimewaster.blogspot]

Simulation of the event

Simulation of the event

Ancient recipes from the Stockholm papyrus

14. Preparation of Carnelian

Dissolve alkanet in oil. After that, put in the blood of a pigeon, and fine Sinopian earth and a little vinegar in order that the blood does not coagulate. Place selenite in it, close the vessel and place it amidst the dew for ten days. If you wish to make the stone very brilliant, arrange it so as to wrap it in horse hair, tie this on, and put it in the dye bath.

Alkanet is a Eurasian plant of the borage family, typically having a hairy stem and blue flowers. It is often used in the process of dyeing and is one of many plants named in the Leyden and Stockholm papyri. Selenite would presumably have been used as a base material because it is a very porous stone that rapidly takes up dye although some of the stone would have dissolved in the process.

15. Preparation of Lapis Lazuli

The lapis lazuli employed is first dipped in the bile of a tortoise

and then placed in the dye bath for amethyst.

A relatively simple process that may have enhanced the colour of inferior quality, poor colour natural lapis lazuli or lazulite. The preparation of emerald was a much more complex process that involved first creating verdigris from copper. The stone was then gently heated, mimicking a natural crystal production process.

17. Preparation of Emerald

Take and put so-called topaz stone in liquid alum and leave it there 3 days. Then remove it from this and put it in a small copper vessel in which you have placed pure unadulterated verdigris along with sharp vinegar. Put the cover upon the vessel, close up the cover, and gently keep afire under the vessel with olive wood for 6 hours, otherwise the longer you maintain the fire, the better and deeper will the stone be – only, as I say, with a gentle fire. Cool and lift the stone out. Its condition will show whether it has become emerald. That is to say, you will observe that a green film has formed upon it. Let it become slowly cooled, however; if not, it soon breaks. Put oil in a small box-tree vessel many days beforehand so that the oil is purified and the product from it can be taken off. Put in the stone

and leave it under cover 7 days. On taking out you will have an emerald which resembles the natural ones.

Fake it till you make it?

It brings up the interesting question of whether a ‘fake’ can have the same protective or healing qualities as a ‘real’, natural stone, something we’ll take a look at in a moment. All the ancient Egyptian simulations were products of sophisticated chemistry or should that be alchemy? They were highly valued. According to Richard Wise, the idea that any material is innately valuable is a comparatively recent one. The word semiprecious does not appear until the 19th century. So it is only in modern times that gemstones have been divided into precious and semi-precious categories. Crystal healers prize both equally of course. As Wise points out, the Egyptians made exquisite, high class jewellery from these simulated stones which were the equivalent of our modern paste diamonds, cubic zirconia, heat amended ‘citrine’ and laboratory grown crystals.

This seems odd to us today with our preconceived notions of what is precious and what is not. Would Cartier or Tiffany consider offering gold jewelry set with glass, plastic, or synthetic gems? Yet the glassmakers of ancient Egypt enjoyed royal patronage. The point is that preciousness was not an idea tied to the use of gemstones that today are called precious. The popularity of gem materials has waxed and waned over the millennia. The truth of this becomes clear when we consider that much of the gem wealth found buried with the pharaohs of Egypt, at Babylon, and in the royal tombs of ancient Sumer is what many today still label as semi-precious.    ‘Precious Gems: The History of a Concept,’ Richard W. Wise

The ancient Egyptians appear to have been more interested in colour, correspondence and symbolism than in the actual material. Most of the jewellery we see today comes from the tombs. It was decoration for the dead. You might almost think that it didn’t matter that it wasn’t genuine stones, or was what we would categorise as a semi-precious rather than a precious gem. That it was merely ‘costume jewellery’. But you’d be wrong to regard it in that way. Jewellery was a very important part of the rituals for continued existence in the afterlife. Each stone had its own intimate connection with a god and its own unique value. Hematite belonged to Horus, Emerald with Venus, Sunstone and Lapis Lazuli with Ra, for instance.

Egyptian adornment

Egyptian adornment.

We can see from contemporary wall paintings that jewellery was worn daily. This was not merely for decoration. It was protective and the Egyptian hieroglyph for bead also meant ‘luck.’ These necklaces were power-full. I once gave an academic lecture wearing a 5000 year old Lapis Lazuli bead necklace from Mesopotamia. As I read the tale of the descent of Innana (Venus) into the Underworld realm of her dark sister Ereskigal I felt like an ancient priestess conducting a ritual – something I have since replicated in many a workshop to great transformational effect.

The necklace together with a jasper ‘eye stone’ amulet dedicated to Marduk (Jupiter) that I had also been lent had an extraordinary effect, not only on me but on the academics to whom I was speaking. We could all feel the power radiating off it. A magnifying glass was needed to read the tiny gold lettering inserted into the amulet. It was one of the most beautiful objects I have ever seen. An incredible tribute to the ancient goldsmith’s art. Its request? ‘The Lord Marduk protect me.’

engraved eyestoneAn engraved eyestone amulet but minus the gold casing and gold inset into the lettering. Nevertheless, this four thousand year old amulet is a work of art in itself. Agate is an extremely hard stone to carve but note the precision of the cuneiform symbols.

So, we should not view these simulations as of no intrinsic worth. The making of glass would have been visible alchemy that magically converted base material into brilliant jewels. It is no wonder the gods were invoked to assist. The recipes in one of the magical papyri are from a late period in the civilisation. But the processes go back thousands of years. Solid glass beads have been found in Egypt dating from 4000 BCE. But simple beads with a glass glaze over a clay or stone core have been discovered dating back to 12,000BCE. The process itself was time consuming, labour intensive, and, it can be surmised, not cheap.

Sieving and grinding materials

Sieving and grinding materials

Egyptian jewellery making

Egyptian jewellery making. Blow-pipe furnaces are shown at the top.

As points out:

‘From their earliest roots, regardless of location, beads have held a spiritual and magical component. The English word bead, for instance, derives from the Old English bidden, meaning, “to pray.” Glass making eventually evolved into a sophisticated art in Egypt, with shapes and hues becoming increasingly intricate. To the basic formula of sand (silica), soda and lime, cobalt was added to create a blue shade, copper for green, tin was used to produce a milky white while the addition of gold created red. The willingness to incorporate gold into a formula to enhance the beauty of glass indicates that glass was not merely considered a substitute for something precious, but was valuable in its own right…

Certainly great care was taken with the glass jewelry. It is painstakingly handcrafted: a tremendous amount of workmanship and effort went into the creation of Tutankhamun’s necklace and collar, for instance. There is nothing careless, haphazard or remotely disrespectful about the glass pieces. The craftsmanship is as detailed and patient as that given to any work of gold. Furthermore, while Tutankhamun’s vulture necklace is encrusted with red and blue glass on one side, the body of the necklace is solid gold. Even considering that substituting glass for gemstones might have decreased economic value, the piece still remains a priceless and beautiful luxury.’
[Read more:]

The efficacy of ‘fakes’

But, once again, this brings us back to the question of efficacy of ‘faked’ stones. The ancient Egyptians were keen on their crystal healing as well as their amulets. Instructions for healing with crystals are found in the medical papyri, Malachite for eyes, Bloodstone for the blood and so on. Unfortunately it doesn’t say whether these were genuine or manufactured. But given that Malachite for instance was ground up to a paste, it would appear that they were ‘the real thing’.

The splendid stones! The splendid stones! The stones of abundance and of joy.

Made resplendent for the flesh of the gods.

The hulalini stone, the sirgarru stone, the hulalu stone, the andu stone, the uknu (Lapis Lazuli) stone.

The dushu stone, the precious stone elmeshu (Diamond/Quartz), perfect in celestial beauty.

The stone of the pingu is set in gold.

Placed upon the shining breast of the king as an ornament.

Azagsud, high-priest of Bel, make them shine, make them sparkle!

Let the evil one keep aloof from the dwelling!

[La Magie Assyrienne translation by Fossey, 1902]

And amulets? Well, the formulas for making protective amulets are even more detailed and the key component seems to be intention. The gods were petitioned, invited to take up residence in the amulet, begged to remain and to do the work required.

Which is exactly what we do today when we use Goldstone to attract abundance. We imbue the stone with our intention. Goldstone itself is the product of alchemy, 17th century Italian this time. A glittering glass with copper inclusions made in a low-oxygen reducing atmosphere, it is often passed off as natural Aventurine. But it is not. Nevertheless, it is very effective for its purpose.


Goldstone, man-made aventurine glass often used in abundance rituals

So, it would seem that simulated stones might well take up an intention and a program even better than the ‘real thing’. After all, they are the product of magic.

A home for the gods

Blue Obsidian skull

Blue Obsidian skull, c. Jeni Campbell,

The gods of ancient Egypt were believed to inhabit statues of themselves and to be in the stones from which those statues were fashioned. The nearest equivalent today is probably the crystal skulls. I’ve found that crystal skulls moulded from man-made stones such as Blue Obsidian, Opalite and fake Amber actually work surprisingly well as a receptacle for crystal skull consciousness. It is clear that such inert materials do not have their own innate ‘crystal oversoul’ which work in harmony with the consciousness that takes up residence in crystal skull. But that does not seem to matter. Skulls crafted from natural materials have to harmonise their vibration with the inhabiting presence and it may take awhile for the two to become compatible, or to find exactly the right tenant. Skulls that have been fabricated are empty vessels, awaiting activation. Anyone can take up residence. So do check their references – see my Crystal Skulls book coming soon – and don’t hesitate to evict an unsatisfactory tenant. There will always be a wiser one waiting for an invitation.

Modern day crystal alchemy

Aura Quartz

Aura Quartz, c. Jeni Campbell

We are all familiar with aura quartzes. Gold, titanium and other precious metals are electrostatically bonded onto Quartz or other crystals, creating the most wonderful glowing colours. Simulating and sometimes surpassing those created by nature herself. Although when Mother Nature turns her hand to it, the results can be pretty stunning as Rainbow Mayanite demonstrates.

Natural alchemy

Natural alchemy: Rainbow Mayanite with iron-staining rainbow coating.
c. Jeni Campbell

Aura Quartzes have profound healing properties from the alchemy that has taken place. But, the practice is growing of merely dying the stones to create the glowing colours. Something that, I can tell you from personal experience, may have a detrimental effect. I used beautiful purple Tanzine Aura Quartz to kickstart my thyroid when it stopped working. Tanzine Aura has gold and indium electrostatically bonded to give the dazzling purple colour.  I wore a Tanzine Aura Quartz ‘flower of life’ pendant from Exquisite Crystals for several months. The combination of the aura quartz, the geometric shape of the crystal, and the homeopathic treatment I was receiving at the same time brought my thyroid alive again – despite my conventional medical doctor saying that was impossible. But when I recommended it to someone else, she bought a crystal from a different supplier. She immediately came out in big red blotches and felt very ill indeed. ‘Oh that’ll be the dye’ was the response from the supplier. So buyer beware, buy from a reputable supplier who can confirm that the process has been carried out correctly.

Aura Quartzes

Aura Quartzes from

The shape of an alchemicalised stone can also have a powerful effect. I have a couple of Tangerine Sun aura quartz tumbles that do little for me – although they work well for other people. But put a Tangerine Sun octagon on my third eye and it explodes into incredibly sharp psychic sight, taking me down to see the tiniest particle in the universe and the vastness of the whole. Alchemy indeed!

Tangerine Sun octagon

Tangerine Sun octagon

Crackle Quartz has long been created by heating and then thermally shocking natural Quartz. The points may, in addition be dyed into bright colours. Children love them. But they rarely have much in the way of healing energy. So when I was handed what appeared to be a large clear Crackle Quartz point I was in no way prepared for the shock that ran up my arm. This was Fire and Ice Quartz, the stone I now use to take the power of the sun to fertilise the heart of Mother Earth. It was created from incredibly high vibration Quartz that comes from the same seam as other high vibration Quartz finds from Brazil. Its rainbows are amazing. Its power truly awesome. There are times when nature can be improved upon!

Fire and Ice Quartz

Fire and Ice Quartz, c. Judy Hall

And outright fakery

But then, again there are times when the basic crystal is not high vibe and the amendment does not appear to be beneficial. The Chinese have been particularly active lately in simulating stones. ‘Chinese Nuummite’ is nothing like the real thing and a supposed Amethyst ball was simply glass. What properties it did have came from its intense purple colouring. Which was why I’d bought it in the first place. I’d felt in need of some purple light and this one in the window supplies exactly that, but no crystal vibes at all.

A few weeks ago my attention was caught on line by an ‘Amethyst’ that appeared to be like Dreamsicle Lemurians (which I am assured by the supplier are totally natural) with their sand-like coating. This ‘Amethyst’ looked like sugar had been sprinkled on it. Ground up Quartz would be my guess. It was being sold as ‘natural’ – until you read the small print. Further down the page, a gaudy lime green version made me shudder. Nevertheless, wanting to check it out, I bid on the Amethyst and fortunately it was very cheap.


‘Yuck’ said crystal healer Jeni Powell when she saw it on my dining room table soon after it arrived. ‘What’s that?’ She poked it with her finger and recoiled. ‘I don’t like that at all.’ By this time we were both more than a little reluctant to tune in. ‘Blood,’ said Jeni, ‘something nasty in the blood.’ ‘Blood cancers?’ I wondered. I shall report further in due course.

Want to know more? Take a look at these:

Excellent site for understanding the principles behind simulating gemstones:

Brilliant site on how to spot faked crystals:

Useful site for spotting fakes: vs Gemstone:
‘An old test was to put the piece in the mouth. Glass will soon feel warm. Gemstones feel icy for a lot longer because they have higher thermal conductivity than glass. They take heat from your mouth so they themselves feel cold.
The other giveaway about glass is the presence of tiny air bubbles – if you can see them without the aid of a loupe [but be aware that some natural crystals such as Brandenberg Amethyst have bubbles within them]. Pressed or molded glass beads may have visible seam lines.’

Exquisite Crystals has, as always, a great selection of fine quality aura quartzes

and see


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