Prospector Brian Busse climbs upslope on loose rocks at his 11,500 foot high aquamarine mining claim on Mount Antero, Colorado.

The Crystal Boom

Photographed and contributed reporting for The Guardian.

"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." Written by reporting partner, Stephen Robert Miller.

Busse drives along a dirt road in the mountains on his way to one of his mining claims outside of Salida. 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.”

Busse rests after climbing upslope, surface mining for aquamarine crystals, mine on Mount Antero. The crystal is currently in high demand due to 202's pandemic and political anxieties. “People are looking for healing in trying times,” he said.

A worn out shovel lays on the rocks on Mount Antero.

Busse's bootprint was made in a patch of snow on Mount Antero.

Busse battles the wind at close to 12,000 feet high on his Mount Antero mine. 

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

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. Grids help balance different energies and perceived healing benefits of metaphysical crystals, said Prado.

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 shop in Denver.

Vargas looks for crystals that "call her" in the shop.

She holds a moonstone she decided to buy, which has a variety of perceived properties, including its ability to bring emotional control and balance hormones.

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 "felt compelled to embark on a spiritual journey of metaphysical practices in the wake of a sexual assault and the pandemic.”

Brabo wears a dendritic agate ring during the session. The crystal is seen as a stabilizing stone that helps with examining limiting beliefs.

Quintana closes her eyes as Brabo works to heal her while wearing rose aura quartz and dendritic agate rings.

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

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