In ancient times, rock crystal was believed to be a permanently frozen piece of ice thanks to its clear, colorless purity—even the name “crystal” derives from krystallos, the Greek word for ice. This fanciful fascination reveals how this versatile stone has enchanted humans for centuries. A transparent variety of quartz, rock crystal has unique physical properties that allow it to be cut, carved, and polished in myriad ways to achieve a striking, glassy clarity.
In the Victorian era, rock crystal cabochons were painted to create bejeweled intaglios (an intricate style of engraving still popular today), and during the Art Deco period they were carved into bold, geometric designs that were contrasted with colored stones and enamel. Because of its transparency and the magical way it refracts light, rock crystal is believed to be a powerfully cleansing stone, absorbing negative energy and providing mental clarity. Such spiritual powers are up for debate, but it’s an ideal sentiment for starting off a new year. As these six pieces prove, rock crystal is still as cool as ever.