By  on January 2, 2002


While wearing a beautiful bauble might bring a sparkle to your eyes -- or your finger -- it won't necessarily cure what ails you. But these days jewelry designers are turning to gemstones known for their healing powers -- though, it's admitted, they may only exist in the psyche of the beholder.
New Jersey-based designer Tina Segal, who has designed her own line for 20 years, discovered gemstones last year when a friend came to her in search of emeralds to wear. According to the friend, a follower of Indian astrology, the emerald possesses a mysterious power that fosters good communication.

"She couldn't find anything to wear that wasn't ugly and cheap or didn't cost a million dollars, so I did a collection, called GemEnergy, around these stones," said Segal. The line, sold at Lord & Taylor, consists of silver or pearl-studded chains to which the wearer can attach various gemstone pendants, each of which corresponds to a planet that allegedly transmits its energy to the wearer's body via the stone. For example, turquoise helps maintain the wearer's equilibrium and coral boosts endurance. The chains retail from $150 to $1,200; the pendants, from $64 to $244.

"I think I sell them more because they're pretty than healing," said Segal. "But women are thrilled that they do whatever they do -- especially at this time, when people need extra confidence."

San Francisco-based designer Alana Leigh discovered many of the same stones on her travels to Nepal, India, Africa and Egypt.

"I started reading about them and I realized they were used in ancient times for medicinal and healing purposes," she said. "When I returned to the States, I decided I wanted to start a jewelry line using these stones. Each season I gravitate toward a certain color. Then I look it up, and it always has this meaning that corresponds to what's going on in my life."

She admits that her jewelry's power is subjective.That hasn't stopped customers like Uma Thurman, Madonna, James King and Rita Wilson from snapping up the chunky stone, pearl and silver-beaded pieces. Necklaces, featuring stones like aquamarine and rose quartz, which range from $190 to $3,500, are mostly adjustable and all can be worn in multiples, a look many of her fans favor. Bracelets retail for $150 to $350 and earrings from $60 to $300. "If you believe just a touch in how much power they really have and how they make you feel, then it's an empowering piece," she said. The line is carried by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Henri Bendel.Gemisphere's MO is to provide stones for general self-healing, not necessarily adornment. The eye-catching, polished gemstone strands are just a by-product, said Pauline Crouch, a partner in the company.

"At first, I was incredibly skeptical, but after I experienced them, I found it to be true," said Crouch. "The beauty in itself is healing," she said. "Looking at a ruby is not same as looking at red glass. People sense that spiritual power behind it."

San Francisco-based designer Ruchi Kothari's line, Sunhera is also inspired by Indian mythology.

One of its signature pieces, the navaratna, is a pendant with a circular grouping of stones that's said to bring the wearer luck and inner peace and ward off negative energy. "The ruby, which corresponds to the sun, is always in the center and brings self-confidence, and the pearl brings inner peace," Kothari explained. "The navaratnas have always been good sellers -- Sharon Stone and Ann Getty are fans -- but their popularity has increased after Sept. 11, because people are turning more toward spirituality and faith to try to make sense of what happened," she said. "I wouldn't call my pieces healing in the sense that it's physical. I would call them mentally and emotionally healing. I think these days we need that more than anything."

The pendants range from $1,100 to $1,850 and are sold at David Orgell in Beverly Hills and Tigges Jewelry in San Francisco.

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