Crystals have been around forever and our obsession with them has been further elevated by celebrities like Victoria Beckham professing their unexplained abilities to bring a certain kind of energy to her life.
JIA JIA is the latest jewellery brand to put these natural gems at the core of each collection with its founder and designer Jia-Jia Zhu has long been fascinated by the certain energies these stones hold.
She created the fine jewellery and crystal specimen brand for “all the lovers of the planet” and the journey of each piece begins with hand-selected crystals, which are uncut and untreated, and each piece is a custom set with gold, diamonds, and semiprecious hand-carved stones in the New York workshop. Each crystal goes through an ancient purification process to reset and detox unwanted energies that may have been picked up over time.
Each crystal used has its own meaning and serve as a vessel of energy ready to come through to support the intentions of the wearer.
Below, Zhu further explains the metaphysical meaning of the crystals she uses in her collection and how certain stones can bring a sense of calm we all need right now.
There has been an increased interest in crystals, why do you think that is?
There is a focus now more than ever towards personal wellbeing and the planet. I believe crystals embody beauty, love, truth, and a sense of history. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own way just like us humans. With many people spending more time at home and all the changes happening in the world, we are looking to focus more on personal and collective well-being –crystals are a vessel to that energy.
Do you believe the idea that stones are silent protectors?
I believe that we are drawn to certain energies in our universe. Crystals have been around forever, they innately carry the distant past. Every culture has been drawn to them, using them as jewellery, décor, currency, and medicine. In modern times, we use them in similar ways to previous times and now even in electronic devices and skincare. If treated with care, crystals can support us in our daily lives. We are all here to create something, I think crystals can aide us in channelling positive creativity.
Tell us about your journey with crystals.
I started collecting minerals since before I can remember! I would collect them on the beaches in California. My first official encounter with healing crystals was through my spirit guide, she sent me one in the mail for protection many years ago. I still have it and carry it with me. In 2017, I left my corporate job as a buyer to live in Bali for the year. It was an important, heart opening, and light-minded time for me, getting back in touch with the basics in life – consciously following my heart and intuition, listening to my body, and noticing all the synchronicities around me. I was meditating with crystals and I would surround myself or place them in areas I wanted to support. I received a very clear vision to work with crystals during a meditation. In my vision, it became clear to me that we are all creators and we just like elements of our earth (in this case crystals) are vessels of energy.
How has your background helped shape the brand?
I have a fashion and merchant background spanning 14 years. Before creating JIA JIA, I was a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. I’ve held positions in different categories including jewellery, womenswear, and menswear – connecting to incredible mentors and people along the way. As buyers, we were always challenged to bring the best brands from the marketplace and continuing to edit down on each piece that reflects both the designer and the store’s DNA to deliver to the client. I loved the edit and having a purpose behind each piece. In creating the brand JIA JIA, my background influences the intention I put behind each piece that enters the line – each piece is meaningful and has a purpose. I enjoy creating collector’s pieces at multiple price points, where it is inclusive to women who want to carry a piece of earth’s beauty that feels good and inspires them when they wear it.
Were you always interested in jewellery?
Yes! I have always loved jewellery. I remember going to flea markets in whichever city I was in collecting jewellery when I was younger. I specifically remember one I picked up in high school in Spitalfields market in London and it was a big mineral ring encased in twisted metal. When jewellery was added to the categories of business I was running at Bergdorf Goodman, I got to dive into it.
Talk us through your latest collection how you source the crystals?
The collections launching with NET-A-PORTER include Crystalline which is a fine crystal precious gold jewellery. Each piece is one of a kind, not one stone will ever be the same. The crystals are ethically mined, they are not cut, polished or treated. They have natural clarity and shapes and are cleansed with water when they come out of the earth. Crystalline is a collection that showcases the natural minerals in its purist crystal form. I handpicked and chose each crystal that is then custom hand set with gold, diamonds, and Italian chain in our workshop in New York City. The hand-beaded colourful pieces are from the collection Arizona – I fell in love with the deserts of Arizona. The extreme weather, a variety of unique creatures and plants, and the colours of all its surroundings. It reminded me of a rainbow array of colours of gemstones from our marvellous earth.
Which piece is your personal favourite?
My favourite piece is the crystal quartz hand set with a diamond bar. It’s simple, beautiful, energetic and goes back to anything. It looks and feels great on its own or layered with other charms.
Your pieces use uncut crystals, how do you elevate the raw look of crystals?
I hand select each crystal that goes into a piece and intentionally choose where each setting goes. The craftsmanship in our workshop goes a long way with how they carefully custom hand set the gold and diamonds into each piece to honour the shape of the crystal.
For those new to crystal jewellery, where should we start?
Go with your gut instinct. Whichever crystal you are drawn to first is the perfect one for you. There is a special energy that draws the crystal and its beholder to each other.
What is your most treasured possession?
I try not to be too attached to things. My biggest treasure is our growing family, my partner, my dog Mckenzie, and our baby girl that is due soon.
Do you have any calming rituals that you follow?
I love taking lavender baths. Nourishing my body with great food – enjoying meals without technology and simply being with the food and the people around it. I write down five points of gratitude daily and send it to a buddy. I practice mantra-based meditation or journalling in the mornings – it’s a great way to check in with myself.
In these uncertain times, we all need to have something that makes us feel calm and protected, which crystal would you recommend for soothing anxiety?
Smoky Quartz is the master of all grounding stones and I have been drawn to it immensely this year. Smoky Quartz works hard to identify and neutralize electromagnetic energies that surround us in our modern technological world – which is very supportive during this time as we are spending more time on our devices, on Zoom – encapsulated by technology as we have entered a work from home culture. Smoky Quartz is a great crystal to help neutralize our technological surroundings bringing us back to the natural elements in our space. It has the power to lift negative feelings associated with fear and anxiety, that may detach us from our joy or a place where our true essence thrives.
What advice do you have for budding jewellery designers?
Follow your instinct. Connect to your heart. Ask questions. Be curious. Work hard. Be kind. Stay humble. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
How do you hope to evolve the brand further?
I see this as a full encompassing lifestyle brand to support people. From charmed jewellery, home crystals, and a truly inclusive holistic centre to support the people that find us. I’m constantly learning and I find it best to stay in alignment with our evolving world, to see how I can support others.
JIA JIA is avilable on NET-A-PORTER now
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