What Are Crystals and Why Are They Shaped?

Crystals are the result of perfectly arranged atoms at the microscopic level that form flat surfaces and geometric shapes when they solidify into crystals. The shape of the resulting crystal is called its habit and tells us more about the atoms that make it up, as well as other environmental factors, like the temperature, pressure, or chemical composition at the time the crystal formed.

There are seven basic crystal shapes, or lattices: cubic, trigonal, triclinic, orthorhombic, hexagonal, tetragonal, and monoclinic. But even within these recognizable forms, the crystals are unique. For example, snowflakes, which form in clouds as water freezes and falls, have six arms or sides—every single one is different.

Harnessing the Power of Healing Crystals: A Comprehensive Guide

A crystal’s shape can also vary as it grows—even though a salt and sugar crystal might look very similar, they will grow into different shapes because they are made from different elements. This type of change happens when a space in the crystal closes and then reopens, creating different mineral layers inside the same crystal.

In addition to their scientific value, crystals are often considered to have healing properties by some people. While there is no scientific evidence for this claim, researchers have found that many people who believe in crystal healing experience physical and psychological effects when holding a crystal.