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Image / Style / Irish Design

Jewellery designer and crystal healer Merle O’Grady turns healing stones in jewellery

by Melanie Morris
02nd Feb 2021

Read time: 6 minutes

From the IMAGE Annual issue, Melanie Morris meets jewellery designer and crystal healer Merle O’Grady to find a woman who’s put a very fashiony feel to the ancient practice.

Last autumn (September 2019), I attended the first birthday of Reformation, a cutting-edge yoga and Pilates studio in Dublin 4. We celebrated the founders Annie Kirwan and Lee Tracey’s success with vegan treats and a sound bath (meditation with gongs)… all very Goop. We were also given an excellent goodie bag on departure, and that’s where I found the little black velvet bag containing a sparkly piece of rock – pyrite – and a card from someone I knew as a very successful Irish jewellery designer, who has since become a crystal healer.

Merle O’Grady is a petite, very cool individual with a distinct sense of style. She’s gently-spoken with sparkly eyes and a penchant for beautifully-patterned midi dresses and chunky statement necklaces. The latter is a reference to her initial career, as a successful jewellery designer in Ireland, and then for ten years the UK. In fact, she was so in-demand, working from her London Bridge flat, that at one stage, her courier account was put on hold, due to a suspicion that she was dealing drugs. Actually, she was biking out huge volumes of one-off pieces to stylists and celebrities for red carpet events.

Merle could have carried on in London, expanding her successful career, but she wanted to come home to Ireland. So, she took a huge gamble and returned to Dublin, leaving her then-boyfriend behind. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending: Matt followed Merle, they bought a cottage in Donnybrook, and shortly after, Vega (now aged five) appeared. “I did the typical Irish salmon thing, and came home to breed.” As Merle juggled her new life, along with the demands that a particularly active baby girl brought, the crazy hours she had been putting into jewellery making were no longer possible. In truth, she was exhausted. “I thought I was doing everything I had to do to be successful, but in fact, I was burning myself out.”

By the time Vega was one, Merle was exhausted with postnatal depression and decided things had to change. She sought help through counselling, and devoted more time to herself and her creativity, and this is where her interest in all things mystical and spiritual appeared. “I had to believe in something bigger than myself to get out of the hole I was in.” And hence the discovery of crystals and things mystical, which became a portal to a whole new world and, Merle found, a kinder way of thinking about herself – less about the linear success model and more holistically-oriented.

Already familiar with crystal stones through her jewellery making, Merle studied online with Kate Mantello at Evolve Healing, based in Australia. “I loved Kate’s unique, very active technique of crystal healing, involving a lot of movement and directing energy using quartz wands with crystals in place on the body. I spent months doing case studies and learning everything from elixirs to grids, but at the end of the day, building your own relationship with crystals is where the magic lies – just introduce one to your life, meditate with it, put it under your pillow, keep it in your bra or pocket.”

“I’m always so inspired and uplifted by my beautiful astrology teachers (and crystal lovers) Brandon Alter and Angel Lopez, aka The Spiritual Gayz (@thespiritualgayz) and tarot goddess Melinda Lee Holm (@melindaleeholm). I love artist Lauren Spencer King’s beautiful minerals and breathwork meditations (@fields_of_study), and I really admire Colleen McCann (@style_rituals) for fusing her fashion stylist background with modern shamanism and crystal wisdom.”

Before you start thinking this is all very LA, you’re right. Merle’s favourite crystal store, @spellboundsky sits right on Santa Monica Boulevard. “I absolutely fell in love with LA. It felt like I was both Dorothy in Oz and coming home at the same time.” Back in Ireland, Merle loves Amy @empressandstar for weekly readings and a monthly reiki circle.

“I’ve realised you really don’t need a lot of crystals – intention is everything. Although they’re becoming so much more popular, it’s important to really be mindful of buying lots and not actually working with them or connecting with them. A single piece of clear quartz can be an absolute workhorse for you when you really set an intention for it. Crystals are not some magic cure-all pill, but they are a really powerful tool to help you to shift your energy – maybe to help you feel confident when moving in a new direction or to support you and bring you comfort when going through a really hard time. And helping people feel like they can easily incorporate them into their lives is a joy.”

Photography by Anthony Woods.

This article originally appeared in the IMAGE Annual issue.

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