Crystals A Brief History

Looking at history we find that although cut glass was around for 2000 years, it was only in the second half of the 17th century that pure lead crystal came into existence. George Ravensrcoft an English glassmaker was experimenting with ways to improve the luster and clarity of his glassware found that by adding lead oxide to his molten mixture changed the properties of glass very dramatically. It increased the clarity of glass and also increased the weight and the refractive index of the glass. The glass also became very soft and it was very easy to cut this glass without fracturing it. The popularity of this cut crystal spread so much that it led to a boom in the markets in Britain.

Eventually it spread all over Europe and America. History of crystal dates back thousands of years to the Mesopotamian times. Lead oxide was used to enhance the brilliance of glass as used today, but applied in different way.

This was an alternate to the popular rock crystal which was more expensive, harder to cut and less refractive. George Ravensrcoft in the year 1676 revolutionized the methods of adding the lead oxide, which brought lead crystal a major step closer to its mass production as of today. Daniel Swarovski, in 1892 invented a machine to cut jewelry stones perfectly. In 1895, he moved his company, known as Swarovski, from Bohemia to the Wattens, Austria where he used the Rhine River as a source of energy to run the company's machinery.

From here the name "Rhinestone" was born. Today the word "rhinestone" is used for leaded crystal coming from any country though. Swarovski is the highest quality crystal stone manufacturer in the world today. Stones are made in many other countries other than Austria as well, most notably Czechoslovakia, Germany, China, Israel and others. Swarovski was founded in 1895 by a Bohemian, Daniel Swarovski, who established a crystal cutting factory in Wattens (near Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria) where he could take advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes he had patented.

Moving through the pages of history we find crystals were in use for other purposes than jewelry. Crystals have been in use since ages for healing. When you hold a crystal or meditate with them, place them in special areas of your home, or wear crystal jewelry, you continue practices which are as old as humankind. Archaeologists have discovered prehistoric use of crystals both as jewelry and for spiritual reasons.

A striking example of prehistoric reverence for crystals is the solar temple, Newgrange. This ancient passage grave in the Boyne Valley of Ireland is older than the pyramids and was built in a fashion so as to allow the sun to stream through the 70-foot-long entrance tunnel on the Winter Solstice. Its roof was originally covered with white quartz, to symbolize the White Goddess.

Crystal skulls have also been found. The Egyptian civilization also used crystals. The original settlers of North, Central, and South America used crystals widely for spiritual, ceremonial, and healing purposes, and served practical purposes, as well.

Quartz was traditionally revered in the Far East, especially in carved form. Quartz crystal balls were considered to represent the heart or essence of the dragon. Dragons were thought to have great power, and a deeper meaning for "dragon" is that of a very wise and evolved individual.

The culture of ancient India is a rich source of information about crystals. The system of chakras (energy centers), which helps us to place crystals on the body for healing and meditation originated there. Astrological documents written as early as 400 B.C. contain detailed observations about the power of various stones to counteract the negative effects of planetary positions.

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