Matt and Victoria Forster are smooth-skinned, clear-eyed and radiate a happiness and harmony that most of us could spend a lifetime failing to achieve. Ask them their secret and they answer in unison: “Passion for crystals.” The husband and wife team (first picture) opened Notting Hill boutique Venusrox in 2011 – at 11am on November 11. “I’ve always found crystals and how they were used by ancient civilisations – for wellbeing, prosperity, strength in battle – fascinating,” says Victoria. “We were travelling extensively and would see crystals wherever we went, but not very good ones. And so our search for quality crystals with a high vibration and clear energy began.”
Today the auspicious light-filled haven glistens tantalisingly with an intriguing array of stones: a huge, 98cm-high cluster of Uruguayan amethyst (£32,500) is a dramatic centrepiece, and a polished 50cm “freeform” of lapis lazuli [second picture, £7,395] is such a pure primary blue that it almost glows. Smaller pieces, which line the many vitrines, range from a smooth pebble of Carnelian (£3) to a sphere of pretty pinky-red gem rhodonite (£2,200).
“People often associate crystals with a New Age aesthetic, but we’ve reinvented them,” says Victoria. Even the packaging is elegant: slim, white, beribboned boxes accompanied by information about the crystal’s properties. Amethyst, they say, gives a protective shield that wards off negativity, while rhodonite is “a stone of self-worth and self-love”.
“We’re supremely specialist and go to the nth degree to handpick every piece,” adds Matt. “We might travel 1,000 miles to see a pile of stones, but if we don’t find one that’s right, we won’t buy.” So when the Forsters are not in the shop they are traversing the globe – homeschooling their children, 13 and 15, as they go, seeking out cavansite in India (from £14), natural pyrite in Rioja (from £12), or uncovering a rare chunk of golden lepidolite with quartz (£27,000) in Brazil. Finds like these attract a large and varied clientele; Matt is too discreet to name names but says that film stars, actors, aristocrats and foreign royalty regularly cross the threshold. Some crystals have even been flown home on their own seat aboard a private jet. But while the appeal of Venusrox to the spiritually minded is obvious, what of the more cynical? “Men, particularly, can be reluctant to come in,” admits Matt, “but once they do, they often end up with stones all over their houses and offices.”
Even the most sceptical could be won over by the jewellery. Silk tasselled gemstone bracelets (£90-£1,400) come with gold, silver and clear quartz beads, while natural gems – a textural gold nugget (£975); a shimmering multicoloured boulder opal (£560) – are wrapped in gold to create stylish pendants. All are handmade by Victoria, who sports several of each. “People always want what I’m wearing,” she laughs. “It’s about the stone, not the setting, so I keep it elegant and simple and allow the crystal to dictate the design.”