When to cut a crystal.

When I first began cutting quartz, there were those who protested that cutting compromised the integrity of the crystal. The point is well taken. There are those crystals that come out of the ground in such pristine condition that cutting them would diminish or disregard their magnificent endowment. These crystals are Nature’s wisdom in mint condition. The world of collecting these fine mineral specimens is a passionate pursuit for those seeking the “perfect” in an imperfect world.  However, most crystals come out of the earth in a damaged and eroded state. The millions of years of wear and tumble have scarred and reshaped them from their original (often pristine) formations.

By the late 1980s, miners in Brazil, Madagascar, and other countries realized that their harvest of crystals was more valuable when they were extracted and handled with great care. The industry was transitioning from mining quartz exclusively for industrial purposes to finding more collectible, aesthetic, and personal ones.

Chipping and disfiguring crystals was not a concern when crystals were mined for industrial purposes. After all, the crystals would be sliced into wafers for technology, so a few chips and dings were inconsequential. Current mining practices place a priority on preserving crystals as they are carefully plucked, like ripened fruit, from the earth. By and large, they are well cared for when shipped out of country for sale. Economic incentives help to maintain their safety in handling. Very simply, a well-preserved crystal is worth more than a damaged one. But even with the best intentions of the miners, the majority of crystals have incurred corrosively frosted skins and chipped, disfigured faces. Others have been so poorly cut and misshapen by lapidaries that, as when witnessing an abused animal, I feel sad for them.

It is a great feeling to take these crystals and retune them, by reestablishing their angles and faces in the cutting and polishing process, so as to reinvigorate their life force. They appear so happy with their makeovers; their appreciation is undeniable.

Some crystals are best left to the birthright of their natural forms. Others can be enhanced and activated with care in the artistic, reformative process.

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