CRYSTALS have been used by humans for thousands of years.

The first known historical references to their use date back to the ancient Sumerians, who used them in magic formulas.

Ancient Egyptians also used crystals in grave amulets and jewellery - often for protection and health - and cosmetically.

The ancient Greeks attributed many of the properties and names for crystals which are still used now.

The popularity of crystals has skyrocketed in recent years, with more people taking an interest in the geology and spirituality associated with crystals

A crystal shop recently opened in Cwmbran, and in Newport city centre people can buy crystals from Sharon McKinley Designs and New Pastures Home in Friars Walk, plus Younique Essentials in the market.

Sharon McKinley - of Sharon McKinley Designs - has worked with crystals for more than 35 years and believes that people are taking a more holistic approach to mental health and the stresses of life.

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“Mother Earth has an abundance of gifts,”

said Ms McKinley.

“Before Covid people were already becoming more aware and inquisitive with more interest in the metaphysics of crystals.

“Then with lockdown people had more time to step back and look introspectively.

“It’s lovely that more and more people are becoming aware and learning more about crystals – they take more interest in the geology too.”

Crystals are believed by some to have a range of spiritual uses which vary based on the type of crystal.

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“It’s interesting to watch people choose,” added Ms McKinley.

“I can pick up on their energy, but it has to be their choice – I’ll ask which they are drawn to and they take that leap of faith.”

She added that crystals are also popular as a gift showing an “awareness of one another”.

Dean Carbin, who runs crystal and gift shop New Pastures Home with his partner Hywel Jones, has also noticed crystals growing in popularity - both as gifts and for people's own spiritual journey.

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He has been around crystals his entire life; his aunt is a reiki and crystal healer and would give him them as a child.

“There is a new wave of people looking for holistic healing,”

said Mr Carbin.

“Obviously if you need medicine use it, but crystals can complement mental health.”

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While crystals are often admired for their beauty,he believes that the majority of people are drawn to them to set intentions (simply put giving the crystal a purpose). Crystals are believed by some to help manifest luck, love, money, and more.

“There are more people than we expected looking for crystals – often to set intent and mindset,” added Mr Carbin.

“People tend to get them for friends; they’ll come in and say ‘my friend is stressed – is there a crystal that can help?’”