Over the past few years, the market for healing crystals has grown exponentially. It seems you can’t step foot into a flea market or street fair without a slew of tables offering a variety of gemstones in all shapes and sizes. The crystal craze has become mainstream, replacing crucifixes and pictures of Jesus with natural formations found beneath the earth’s crust. Currently, the hashtag “crystals” has over 11 million posts. “Crystalsforsale” has over 500 thousand. With all these retailers online and in person, how do consumers know who to buy from? 

People buy healing crystals to surround themselves with positive vibrations. Unfortunately, the method in which many crystals are mined is so unethical that it’s hard to believe they can carry any healing abilities. Crystals are supposed to magnify intentions. But what kind of karma is carried in gemstones that are unearthed by exploitation? 

Most, if not all, crystal lovers have positive intentions, yet we unintentionally contribute to unethical mining tactics. Internationally, environmental destruction is a key concern. Land degradation and contamination of resources continue to worry environmentalists and must be addressed by regulated mining companies. Deforestation, erosion, soil contamination, groundwater, and air pollution make it so areas can become uninhabitable for animals and humans alike. 

While small scale crystal mines do exist in the United States, many healing crystals are the byproduct of metal mining. Some of the largest copper mines are in the spotlight for damages to water and wildlife. Thankfully, these mines must adhere to regulation and restorative practices. 

For some mines, like the Berkeley Pit in Montana, the area is so decimated there is nothing left but toxicity. Without restorative practices to reduce the carbon footprint left by mining, this particular pit remained a health hazard to all life forms for 37 years. Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency forced a clean up. That’s more than can be said for the rest of the world. 

Between Thailand and Bangladesh sits an area in Southeast Asia called Myanmar. Formally known as Burma, Myanmar is the number one producer of jade, a highly sought after source in China and in the United States wellness industry. It also fuels a civil war between the Burmese military and Kachin guerrillas. The jade has been attributed to the “blood diamonds” of Africa and is responsible for environmental disaster and social unrest. 

In Myanmar, children as young as 7 years old work in extremely dangerous conditions for pennies on the dollar. They toil next to drug addicts who get narcotics from the swirling cesspool of corruption that ties back to government warfare. People die from disease, avalanches, addiction, and violence daily. The fight for dominion over jade, a resource responsible for almost half of Myanmar’s economy, has left a trail of devastation for the Burmese people. For a healing crystal that is supposed to support harmony and good luck, the jade out of Myanmar only fuels pain and suffering.

Another area under the microscope is Madagascar. Here, child labor accounts for too many of the low-cost crystals on the U.S. market. According to The Guardian, “the US Department of Labor and the International Labour Organization estimate that about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s mines.” And these areas are a severe health hazard. Some mines are so tight it’s hard to breathe; others are a rockslide waiting to happen. Boys dig for hours, days, weeks, with curved backs and cramped hands to find crystal compensation that equates to a cup of rice. And where do all these back-breaking, lung impaling crystals go? They are exported around the world. Many of which wind up at the Tucson gem show in Arizona. 

The Tucson gem show is a well-known event in the crystal community. Unfortunately, it does not discriminate or ask questions, so many sellers don’t realize this is a breeding ground for international corruption. Since healing crystals have become a billion dollar industry, traders from all over the world fly into Arizona to sell their crystals to unsuspecting retailers across the United States. Middle-men from China where jade is smuggled in from Myanmar sell the beautiful green crystals tainted with corruption; traders from the mines of Madagascar carry in quartz energy smeared with slave labor. And since many mines overseas are unregulated, there is no way to track who or where the crystals originated. Even the regulated metal mines where crystals become a byproduct, a happy accident stumbled upon while they pump pollution into the earth, are sold here at rock bottom prices to please the masses. 

In this way, we contribute to the very actions we are against. That is why it’s so important to know the origin of the crystals you purchase. The point is clean, clear energy. The vibration a crystal emits is only as good as its source.  

High vibration is at the forefront of my mind when purchasing crystals for the shop. If I want customers to benefit from the magic of healing crystals, then the quality and energy must be present, not just the best price point. Sure, I could find cheaper, duller colored crystals, but at whose expense? Crystal sales shouldn’t be about the money. It should be about healing. 

That is why all of the fouram’s healing crystals are ethically sourced out of Brazil where the government upholds very strict mining regulations. Mines must be registered. They are inspected throughout the year to ensure safe working conditions and are required to pass a comprehensive environmental plan to maintain legal status. The environmental plan also includes a extensive land restoration arrangement after the mine becomes obsolete. These practices vastly reduce the carbon footprint left from mining the land, eliminating the chances of toxic pollution like we’ve seen in Montana’s Berkeley Pit. 

The miners are paid the government salary amount at minimum. In addition, they have health benefits! Employee health and safety come first, which ensures high standards and high vibratory energy in the earth’s gift of healing crystals.  

Furthermore, crystals for sale in Brazil and exported out of the country must have complete documentation. This includes the certificate of origin for the specific mine, and a fiscal paper trail showing each time the material was purchased and subsequently resold. These standard practices greatly reduce the amount of black market crystals sold within and outside of the country. 

While there will always be black market smugglers finding ways around laws (if there are any), it is imperative that retailers and consumers ask questions about the origin of the crystals they purchase. The Guardian’s Tess McClure laments, “While the crystal business is booming, and largely among consumers who tend to be concerned with environmental impact, fair trade and good intentions, there is little sign of the kind of regulation that might improve conditions for those who mine them.” There may not be signs of streamlined international regulation, but we as light workers and good-intentioned people can be more mindful about the crystals we possess and sell. We owe that to the earth and to humanity. After all, can we tout love and light while turning a blind eye to the atrocities of unregulated mining?

Check out some of these energy scrubbing crystals available in the fouram shop!

Clear Quartz

Black Tourmaline