Brian Busse, a prospector, drives along a dirt road in the mountains on his way to one of his mines outside of Salida, Colorado. While he's not a metaphysical enthusiast, he's seen crystals "put a smile on thousands of faces. If that’s not good medicine, I don’t know what is.”

American anxiety fuels a crystal boom

"Amid the twin anxieties of the coronavirus pandemic and a bitter election season, sales of crystals and other ritual goods associated with metaphysical healing – the perceived power of natural objects that can be harnessed to a user’s benefit – have soared. At a time when many people have cut back on superfluous expenditures and even the diamond industry has taken a hit, Americans still account for 35% of the growing global market for gemstones, and metaphysical retailers cite current stresses for driving as much as a doubling in sales." from writer Stephen Robert Miller.

We followed the supply chain of these crystals from origin to use.

Pitched, photographed and contributed reporting for The Guardian.

Busse shows an aquamarine crystal he found by surface mining. Aquamarine has many purposes in metaphysical spaces, like promoting fearlessness, protection and stress reduction.

Busse climbs upslope on loose rocks at his 11,500 foot high aquamarine mine on Mount Antero, Colorado.

On his hands and knees, Busse searches for peridot along the road on a rainy day at one of his mines. Peridot is a deep green crystal that, in metaphysical spaces, is said to bring positivity and light.

Diana Prado, co-owner of Zen Babe in Longmont. "Sales have increased as if it was Christmas time. That's a lot for a little store like ours,” she said.

Prado holds fluorite, one of her favorite crystals. Fluorite has a perceived ability to put you back in touch with your desires and dreams.

Various crystal grids from Zen Babe made by Prado. She says that grids help balance different energies and perceived healing benefits of metaphysical crystals.

Kyiana Vargas, who’s recently become interested in crystals and metaphysical healing because of increased anxiety during the pandemic, looks at different crystals in at Herbs and Arts, a metaphysical shop in Denver. Vargas only purchases and uses crystals that "call her".

In the sage-filled back room of Alchemy Ritual Goods in Denver, Charmaine Brabo, a spiritual alchemist, works to heal a newer client, Vanessa Quintana. In the wake of a sexual assault and the pandemic upending Quintana's life, she began exploring metaphysical practices.

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