Jia-Jia Zhu lives by some fundamental tenets: “Stay open, be kind to others, show gratitude to all and our Earth, set good intentions, be a part of a community, slow down, know when to let go.”
That’s good advice from the fashion world veteran, who left her former role behind—as a buyer for the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Gucci—and found her calling in minerals. After a life-changing trip to Bali, Zhu had a vision for supporting the greater good through crystal work. Ultimately, drawing on her deep healer lineage and upbringing between Shanghai and California, she launched her eponymous jewelry line “for people who care about the planet.”
Here, she draws the connection between Earth’s natural elements and our collective role as creators:
Live The Process: How did (and does) your lineage inform your interest in the idea of healing and a connection to nature?
Jia-Jia Zhu: My family is descendent from Chinese Medicine herbalists and healers, who blended Earth’s plants to make medicine and healed communities around them. People would travel to see them and they welcomed all who needed help. It didn’t matter if those people couldn’t afford to pay; if they needed help, they received it. My great grandparents had to shut down their practice to escape during the war and rebuild their practice in Shanghai. There was a sense of acceptance of impermanence around needing a physical space. They would practice anywhere. As long as they were supporting their community, their purpose was served.
The creation of my brand is a continuation of my lineage, in order to serve the greater collective through the beauty and medicine our earth provides. This is only the beginning and there is so much more we can do with this brand, as we grow in order to support and help our greater community.
LTP: What propelled you to transition from working in fashion to creating with crystals?
JZ: I had been in the luxury fashion space since I was in college. I loved it. I never actually took a break to stop and be with myself in those 14 years. I didn’t even know how important that was at the time.
I loved the practice of yoga and it helped me in the most rigorous and stressful times in my life. I went to Bali to dive deeper into my spiritual practice, become a yoga teacher, learn meditation—this then lead me to other modalities of holistic work and living. It was a heart opening and light-minded time for me, getting back in touch with the basics in life—consciously following my joy, heart and intuition, listening to my body and noticing all the synchronicities around me.
I was meditating with crystals; I would surround myself or place them in areas I wanted 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— like elements of our Earth—are vessels of energy. We do the work and daily practices to clear our vessel to ensure flow to come through.
This lead me back stateside and to learn more about crystals at the largest gem show in the world. When I got there, I was energized by the global community who all came to this desert town to share their love for minerals. The people I connected with there have now become great friends and teachers of mine. I wanted to create with the natural minerals of our earth and share the expression of love, connection, truth and beauty that we are all born with when we come into the world. Our planet is rooted in these expressions and I wanted to create a brand that bring us back to this pure energy of life.
This trip showed me that we are all guided, life is kismet if we allow it to be, take it easy and allow processes to unfold once in a while. There are definitely times where action is warranted, but we all know within us when the time is right, the person is right, that partnership is right, whatever it may be. Stay open, be kind to others, show gratitude to all and our Earth, set good intentions, be a part of a community, slow down, know when to let go. There are times where we can lead by following or being in alignment, being gentle with ourselves.
LTP: How does the inspiration process with your jewelry work? Which piece do you personally wear every single day?
JZ: I gravitate towards certain crystals depending on how I am feeling, the phase of life I am in. It shows up for me, I allow those crystals to reveal themselves and I start designing around them. Sometimes, I get a specific design vision—usually in the middle of the night.
I always wear my crystal quartz diamond bar necklace. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the collection, feels great to wear and goes with anything!
LTP: Why do you perform ancient purification rituals on your crystals?
JZ: Crystals can pick up energies as they travel. They carry ancient information, dating back to when they were formed. It’s not always necessary to do a purification process, but I like to do it with my crystals, so they can attune to the beholder at its finest expression.
LTP: For September, at Live The Process, we’re focusing on the concept of “The Elements”—all the ways in which nature’s core facets can impact our health, wellness, energy and more. How do crystals ground us to the Earth in essential ways?
JZ: Crystals come from all parts of the Earth—different environments, soils, climates, surrounding creatures. Connection to the natural elements is very important. It’s a reminder of where we come from and where we go back to. With overproduction and all the activity going on in the world, we can forget to be in connection with nature. Progress in creation and innovation is important, but we have to remember where we came from and where we are: without the Earth, we wouldn’t exist. Where would we go? Crystals can be that channel to take us back, get back into connection and be in gratitude.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
JZ: To “Live The Process” means “being” to me. Being is living. Living is creating. We are all creators in this universe and I believe that we are all here to live the process of creation. I am born through the earth, my work is to create while I am here and, eventually, I will go back through the earth.