A Gem of a Service

LUXURIOUS, DECADENT, AND INDULGENT: These are all words that were at one time equated with spas. Now that there are nearly 15,000 spas in the U.S. alone and 32 million spa-goers (according to the International Spa Association), getting a massage isn't always the exclusive experience it once was. So how can you set your spa apart and enhance it with a bit of opulence without overhauling your entire operation? Try adding gemstone-inspired services to your menu. Nothing says special and distinct like showering your clients in rubies, emeralds, pearls, and diamonds. And with many people looking to spas for more than basic stress-relief, gemstone treatments also have the ability to turn your spa into a center for spiritual healing.

Gemstones have been used for thousands of years, by cultures scattered around the globe, to heal every imaginable ailment. There's evidence that gemstone and crystal healing was used by Native Americans, early Europeans, ancient Asian cultures, and in Egypt, where a papyrus dated prior to 1600 B.C. was discovered explaining the medicinal uses of lapis lazuli, a blue semi-precious stone. Exactly how gemstones work to heal the body eludes modern science, but there are countless ancient and contemporary texts that support their supposed beneficial powers. The main theory is that gems collect and emit electromagnetic energy. When that energy is directed to or focused on the body—whether by wearing a gem, placing it close to the body, or laying it on one of the chakras—it fortifies the body's ability to heal itself. To many, this healing modality sounds quack or fringe, but as other energy healing practices like Reiki and acupuncture enter the mainstream, so too does gemstone healing.

"We never try to convince anyone of anything that goes against their thinking, we simply encourage them to have an open mind and trust the benefits of the stones," explains Kevin Shaffer, spa director of The Spa at CopperWynd Resort (Fountain Hills, AZ), when asked whether guests must truly believe in gemstone healing in order to benefit from a gem treatment. The indigenous amethyst stone (from the spa, you can see the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine, which provides the gems for the service) is used during several phases of the CopperWynd's Amethyst Body Renewal Treatment ($195, 90 minutes). An amethyst elixir, which is made at the spa, is spritzed over exfoliated skin, and after a massage with amethyst-infused lotion, a raw stone is placed on the third-eye chakra, which is located in the center of the forehead. "In and of itself, the amethyst doesn't regenerate cells—only the body can do that," says Shaffer. "However, when the body is in a positive state, its abilities for healing and regenerating are going to be amplified." Besides bringing a local element to the treatment, the amethyst is used for its cleansing, sobering properties. (Amethyst comes from the Greek word amethystos, which literally means "not drunken.")

Turquoise stones are incorporated into the Turquoise Gem Stone Therapy treatment at Nidah Spa.
Turquoise stones are incorporated into the Turquoise Gem Stone Therapy treatment at Nidah Spa.

Turquoise is the stone of choice at Nidah Spa at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa (Santa Fe, NM). For centuries, turquoise has been regarded by Native Americans in the New Mexico region as a source of protection and a bestower of power. During the Turquoise Gem Stone Therapy treatment ($130, 50 minutes), spa-goers are massaged from head to toe with warm desert sage oil, then four turquoise stones are placed on the stomach, heart, throat, and third-eye chakras. "Our guests don't need to be versed in chakras, as their therapist will go over that with them before the service starts," says spa director Wendy Katzman. "But if someone is looking for just a hot stone massage, this is not for them. It's for people who are a bit more in touch with their bodies and their needs." Katzman has found that guests who are a bit hesitant about the benefits of the treatment walk out of the spa awed at how clear-headed and refreshed they feel. "This isn't your average treatment because it's so unique," adds Katzman.

When it comes to being one-of-a-kind, though, nothing tops gemstone-infused massage oils that have an actual semi-precious or precious stone right in the bottle. The Shiffa line of products, which is imported from Dubai (the luxury capital of the Middle East), is currently used at the Peninsula Spa at the Peninsula Beverly Hills (CA) and will be featured in the signature treatments at the soon-to-open Spa at Trump (Chicago). "In developing the concept for the Spa at Trump, we were looking for rare, luxurious products, but they had to have authentic healing benefits," says spa director Deja Goldstein. After researching the history of gemstones and their therapeutic properties, the spa's developers were sold, and they chose Shiffa as their signature brand. Guests will be able to choose from treatments that feature the line's diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire massage oils, depending on what they hope to achieve from their treatment. For example, if someone were looking for a calming, de-stressing service, he or she would be advised to try the Precious Sapphires Massage, as the blue stone is known for its cooling, clarifying, and peaceful properties. Each signature gemstone service at the Spa at Trump will be completed with a sampling of a carefully selected gemstone-infused elixir from the Daily Elixirs brand. "Typically, spa treatments end with a glass of water or tea," says Goldstein. "We'll be offering Daily Elixirs as a complement to our signature gemstone services, to really pull the gemstone theme together."

The Shiffa oils are used in similar treatments at the Peninsula Spa. "At the Peninsula, we have a sophisticated clientele who love that which is luxurious—and Shiffa is the epitome of luxury," says spa director Bonnie Kyle. The Peninsula's Precious Diamond Massage ($275, 90 minutes) uses Shiffa's diamond-infused oil to release blocked energy within the body and improve mental clarity, and it also incorporates hot stones and a scalp massage.

Lest you think gems only serve a metaphysical purpose, it's important to note that they work wonders in the down-to-Earth world of skincare as well. Pearls, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other stones can all be used in facials and body treatments to transform and perfect the skin. At Spa Radiance (San Francisco), the Royal Treatment ($1,000, 3 hours) is a combination of four high-end skin treatments. The super-pricey service includes a microdermabrasion treatment using a diamond-tipped wand, an Intense Pulsed Light facial using technology that's equipped with small sapphires to cool and firm skin, a 24-karat gold leaf mask, and a crushed-pearl powder décolleté treatment to gently buff away dead skin cells and leave the area luminous. "I needed gemstones in this treatment because they're the best of the best, and they do a beautiful job for the skin," says Spa Radiance's founder Angelina Umansky, adding "I couldn't charge as much for spiritual healing—people can go to therapy for that!"

Bring on the Bling
Bring on the Bling

At Spa Toccare at the Borgata (Atlantic City, NJ), jade stones are massaged over the skin during the Jade Stone Facial ($260, 100 minutes). The smooth stones help drive the Naturopathica products used during the treatment deep into the skin. As a bonus, jade is often associated with prosperity and good health. "We wanted to use a stone with bioenergetic properties that would appeal to our 'Lady Luck' believers at the casino, so it became the perfect complement to support our desire for a luxury facial," says director of spa operations, Brennan Evans.

You won't need luck to spread the word about gemstone treatments, as there are numerous ways to promote the addition of these services to your menu. The Spa at CopperWynd Resort, for example, has an arrangement with a local jeweler that allows the spa to do in-store mini hand massages using its amethyst lotion. At The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami, guests who try the Kundalini Journey ($340, 2 hours) are gifted one of seven gemstone pendants. If they come back for the treatment, they're given a different stone, and this continues until they have the full set. And the Peninsula Spa is working with a jeweler to create a fabulous wedding package, as brides-to-be and newlyweds are sure to enjoy diamond-inspired services. But really, who wouldn't? —Megan O'Connell