Arthur Lim smiles as he remembers a recent exchange with a confused customer in Gems Awakening, the crystal shop he opened in November last year with his wife Carol Lim. Assuming the shop sold souvenirs, the visitor asked “which stone was from Macao,” laughs Arthur Lim, who hails from Singapore.
As the city’s first crystal healing shop, it’s to be expected. The Lims are enthusiastic about bringing crystal healing to their local community, but their work is cut out for them. The couple see the shop as their opportunity to educate people about the power of the practice.
“I’ve been collecting crystals since I was a little girl, but never actively worked with them,” says Carol Lim, who was born in Macao, grew up in Porto, Portugal, and returned in 2007, where she met her husband and started their family.
“They were so shiny and colourful, at the time I didn’t understand the science behind them. Over time I started to see things differently, I knew they were more than just pretty rocks.”
Proponents of crystal healing believe that crystals and semiprecious stones are conduits for energy, based on how their atoms and molecules move and interact. It is believed that when placed on or near the body, crystals can help draw out negative energy, while offering mental, physical, emotional and spiritual balance.
It may sound New Age, but there’s nothing “new” about the practice. Ancient Greeks and Romans used crystals for protection in battle and in medical treatment, sacred Indian texts mention their healing properties, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) still employs them to this day.
And while there’s no scientific evidence that crystals can remedy medical conditions, they could offer benefits via the placebo effect, a finding which has been supported by some research.
After Arthur Lim gave Carol Lim a Kunzite crystal bracelet – a lilac-pink stone said to be useful for anxiety relief – she noticed that she felt calmer and more focused. The experience encouraged her to study crystals more deeply.
“I started to read online about connecting with your crystal, meditating with it, talking to it and communicating your intention. In 2017, I started to feel a shift and that was the beginning of our crystal journey.”
A professional awakening
In 2018, she enrolled in the Hibiscus Moon Certified Crystal Practitioner Course, a US-based online course, on a recommendation from her best friend. Run by a former science teacher, Carol Lim found that the course provided more scientific insight into crystals than she had found previously.
She learned about concepts such as the naturally occurring electromagnetic fields in the human body, and how crystals may interact with them to produce different effects.
Modules included how crystals form, their relationship with chakras (energy centres in the body), and how to perform a crystal healing session on humans and animals.
The five-month online course took Carol Lim eight months to complete, after she gave birth to the couple’s second daughter during that period. Once she finished the course in May 2019, however, she finally had the knowledge and confidence in the practice that she had been looking for.
By 2020, the couple were ready to open Gems Awakening. They both gave up their jobs – Carol Lim ran an online crafts boutique, and Arthur Lim worked in hospitality – to focus all their efforts on running the shop.
“Crystal healing is not new to Macao, it’s been around for hundreds of years,” says Carol Lim. “When you see people wearing jade bracelets and necklaces, that’s crystal healing. Locals already believe in the power of crystals, but they are not entirely sure how or why they work.”
“Most Asian people see crystals as a symbol for prosperity and health,” agrees Arthur Lim. “With this shop we want to educate people about the thousands upon thousands of stones out there. Different stones have different energy, and that can help you in different areas of your life.”
According to the couple, red crystals such as red jasper have an earthy vibration, which is believed to help with stability and grounding. Yellow topaz provides mental clarity, and green aventurine is associated with the heart chakra, which affects love, compassion and connection to those around us.
When sourcing their crystals, Arthur Lim says two elements are key: a trusted supplier, and an intuitive connection to the stones once they are in his hand. “I feel the stones to test if they are legitimate or not before placing repeat orders,” says Arthur Lim. The couple run background checks and can take years of relationship-building before working with a new supplier.
They source their stones from regional suppliers in mainland China and Singapore, as well as internationally from countries including the US, Brazil and Madagascar.
At first, they felt like the “new kids on the block” in their shop, with visitors simply curious about the new addition to the trendy Calçada do Amparo neighbourhood of Senado Square.
Now, after five months in business, they say customers are interested in going deeper into the practice, and learning how they can use crystals in their daily lives. The shop owners say that they have a broad client base, 80 per cent of which are locals and aged between 18 and mid-forties, and it’s growing all the time.
Talking to visitors about crystal healing has allowed Carol Lim to share ideas and concepts that she believes passionately in. “I start by explaining that our bodies are a combination of many different vibrations; our liver and heart, for example, pump at different rates.”
“Crystals are perfectly structured; their atoms, ions and molecules are aligned, and therefore vibrate at a much higher frequency than we do. When a crystal is placed on our body, we try to match that vibration – and that’s how crystal healing works,” she explains. “We want to help people understand how crystals can help bring balance to the body.”
Finding your first crystal isn’t hard, says Carol Lim. “The very first thing to do in a crystal shop is let yourself be pulled in a particular direction, rather than thinking about where to go. See which crystal catches your eye, and pick it up to get a feel for it.”
”There’s no right or wrong,” she continues. “Trust that you will choose the right stone for you.”
The next step is connecting with your crystal by setting an intention, something that you’d like to change in your life. Focus on the intention that you have in mind – for example, “peace” or “may my heart be open” – while meditating. “Hold the crystal with your left hand as it is connected to your heart and also the feminine side,” suggests Carol Lim. “Let the connection happen, and listen to your feelings and emotions. Look out for tingles in the hand.”
It’s also important to cleanse your crystals of negative energy, which can build up over time, according to Carol Lim. She suggests lighting some sage or Palo Santo every month, or whenever it feels necessary, and letting the smoke waft over the stones.
“Try saying an intention along the lines of, ‘may the smoke cleanse my crystal of negative energy’ to reset its original frequency,” advises Carol Lim.
Which stones are most helpful for people in Macao? Poor sleep is a concern Arthur Lim frequently hears from his customers; he suggests placing a small amethyst by the bedside table, or under a pillow for better rest. “It’s also good for anger management,” Carol Lim laughs.
The couple’s long-term vision is to create a crystal association in Macao, with their own training and system of certification.
Until then, however, the Lims are happy to continue expanding their community via Gems Awakening. And Carol Lim is optimistic about the future, “We are trying to build a foundation and spread awareness that crystals are very much alive and can support you in every area of your life.”
Five most popular crystals at Gems Awakening
Amethyst: best for improving rest, relaxation and sleep, known for its calming and soothing energy.
Citrine: best for encouraging abundance and success.
Rose quartz: best for peace of mind, tranquility and promoting self-love.
Pyrite: best for stimulating action and willpower, known as the stone of manifestation.
Carnelian: best for inspiring confidence, vitality, ideal for pursuing goals and dreams.