Long a treatment element in mystical circles and alternative healing practices, jewels and gemstones add therapeutic benefits—not to mention a colorful, luxurious note—to modern-day beauty products and spa offerings. From diamonds and pearls to sapphires and rubies, there’s nothing like a bit of bling to make clients feel like royalty.
Gemstones and minerals have been used for centuries in traditional eastern medicine, according to Själ Skincare president and cofounder Kristin Petrovich, who says that her company’s products marry those ancient rituals with the latest western biotechnology. “Each stone has a different type of frequency or vibration, and we choose each for its unique properties as well as the enhanced benefit to the skin,” says Petrovich. “Precious gemstones such as amethyst, blue sapphire, citrine, diamond, rose quartz, and tourmaline promote microcirculation, clarity, and repair. They naturally vibrate at a higher frequency and constantly adapt to the skin, allowing for maximum performance and benefits under any condition,” she says, adding that gemstones also assist with deeper product penetration.
Cornelia Spa at The Surrey (New York City) has developed its own jewel-studded product line, called Lumina, in which precious gems work with anti-aging ingredients to brighten skin. “The gemstones are micro-ionized to an infinitesimal size, which activates their skin-energizing and microcirculation properties, helping to improve skin’s radiance and imparting a luminous, healthy glow,” says Cornelia Spa principal Ellen Sackoff. “Unlike products that utilize precious stones strictly for their cosmetic effect, Lumina products supplement energizing crystals with advanced ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, oligopeptides, pentapeptide-3, and vitamins, that work in concert with the chemistry of the skin to repair and maximally hydrate it.”
Another company harnessing the positive attributes of jewels is Elina Organics, whose Gemstone Collection features diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire infusions blended with herbs, mushrooms, and other organic ingredients. These formulations, such as the Ruby Lip Reviving Elixir, which uses the bioenergetic patterns of rubies to help boost circulation and plump the lips, star in the Gemstone Facial ($110, 70 minutes) at Elina Advanced Skin Care (Chicago). “Clients say they feel deeply relaxed and uplifted,” says CEO Elina Fedotova. “This facial not only improves the tone and texture of their skin but also helps to balance the energy of the entire body.”
From a strictly scientific perspective, however, the subject is a bit murky. According to Karl Lintner, a biochemist and cosmetic-industry consultant, well-documented, credible studies on the skincare benefits of gemstone preparations are few and far between. Stones such as diamonds “do not dissolve into biological fluids, so there is little chance of interaction with cells, proteins, or DNA,” says Lintner. New York City dermatologist Sherry Shieh, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University, agrees that the hard data to back up these claims may not exist. “To my knowledge, there is no evidence to support skin benefits,” she says, “but they may be similar to those of microdermabrasion with the removal of dull skin, giving some improvement to the texture.” There may not be a consensus among the medical community, but one thing is certain: Clients love the upscale, extravagant nature of these treatments.
By cultivating that sense of exclusivity and opulence, spas can tap into one of the best selling points for gemstone-oriented services—the feeling of pampering they convey. Not surprisingly, diamonds are one of the jewels used most often for this type of treatment. They may be a girl’s best friend, but, according to Fedotova, they are also beneficial for all skin types. Diamonds are the centerstone of Orogold Cosmetics 24K Cryogenic Collection, designed to tighten skin and contour the face, eyes, and neck for a vibrant complexion. The product line, which includes a Diamond Mask and a Pearl Revival Elixir, counts diamond dust, gold, and crushed pearls among its ingredients. “Diamond is a very hard material, which makes it an excellent exfoliant to smooth, soften, and brighten the skin,” says marketing manager Stephanie Marks. “Diamond dust has the potential to be a reflective agent to boost skin’s radiance, giving skin the appearance of youth and vitality.”
The rocks also feature prominently in the Diamond Perfection ritual ($275, 90 minutes) at the Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie (Los Angeles). The treatment uses La Prairie’s Cellular Mineral Body Exfoliator, a combination of densely packed exfoliation beads with pure diamond and amethyst powders, to refine the skin’s texture, leaving it smoothed and primed to absorb the benefits of a body moisturizer. “The Diamond Perfection is one of our most frequently booked body treatments,” says Helen Storer, director of spa sales and operations. “Our clients appreciate the luxury element of the premium La Prairie products and love the results—a visible softness and all-over glow from the mineral-rich diamond powder.”
Diamonds and their four Cs aren’t the only stones getting in on the act—today’s skincare products and spa menus offer a veritable rainbow of treatment options. Inspired by ruby laser technology, Glow by Dr. Brandt Ruby Crystal Retinol Hydracrème is a skin brightener that combats lackluster, dull skin. It calls upon ruby crystals to boost the skin’s ability to reflect light and a low dose of time-released retinol to improve texture and tone; Hydra-Balance, which regulates water flow through cell membranes, replenishes the skin’s moisture levels. “Micro-ruby crystals work synergistically with skin illuminators and optical diffusers to provide a full-spectrum glow, infusing skin with luminosity while reducing the appearance of lines and shadows,” says New York City- and Miami-based dermatologist Fredric Brandt, M.D. “Patients feel that these jewel-based products tend to make their skin look more luminous and their complexion more even.” In-office, Brandt uses the product in conjunction with a Q-switched ruby laser, which emits short pulses of red light that destroy pigment.
On the other side of the color wheel is Lumina’s Emerald Smoothing and Concealing Eye Crème, in which collagen-encouraging pentapeptide-3 accelerates the formation of new cells, and emerald crystals, pure colloidal gold, and pearl powder counteract dark circles with a hint of green. “The green stone is highly effective in cosmetically concealing dark undertones while improving circulation, flushing away the coagulated blood from broken blood vessels that contributes to this all too common problem,” says Sackoff. “Fine lines, crow’s feet, and dark under-eye circles are dramatically diminished.”
For those feeling blue, the anti-aging Sapphire and Pearl Illuminating Facial (starting at $150, 50 minutes) at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Austin (TX) uses Själ Skincare products to promote inner balance, energy flow, and clarity and improve the skin’s hydration, luminosity, and texture. It also employs gemstone placement over the chakras and uses amethyst, hematite, and rose quartz to massage the skin. “We have had a wonderful response,” says spa director Mary Kate Piotrowski. “All of our guests who have received this facial find it to be indulgent and special, but, most importantly, deeply relaxing.” Sapphire also comes into play at the Spa at Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, where the Precious Gems facial ($165, 60 minutes) detoxifies and resurfaces the skin via manual microdermabrasion with both ruby and sapphire crystals, targeting common skin concerns such as rough, oily, or asphyxiated skin.
If guests prefer to flaunt their jewels but don’t want to spend a mint on the real thing, The Spa at the Modern Honolulu (HI) offers the Swarovski Crystal Pedicure ($250, starting at 90 minutes). A seasonal special for the month of January, this foot treatment uses Trump hard gel to adhere Swarovski sparklers to the toenails. “Everyone wears pretty dresses, heels, and jewelry, but not many of us wear jewels on the toes,” says spa manager Makiko Braxton. “It’s just uncommon and extravagant.”
Whether or not the stones are faux, little will get clients ooohing and ahhhing like one of these high-carat indulgences. Thanks to services and products fit for a monarch, jewel essences bring a nurturing, splurge-worthy note to the spa kingdom