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Original Issue

Spirit of the Stones

California necklaces usher in a new aura in sports

AT THE press conference announcing his return as coach of the Lakers last summer, Phil Jackson (left) wore a dark suit, sandals and a necklace strung with specially treated black onyx beads that, the manufacturer says, provides "protection from negative energy." Jackson has been a fan of the Energy Muse necklace line since he wore a turquoise model designed to promote health while recovering from kidney stone surgery in 2003.

The Energy Muse line was conceived six years ago by Heather Askinosie, a former feng shui-er of Hollywood homes. There are now more than 100 pieces, ranging from $30 "romance" bracelets (rose quartz and garnet) to $700 sunstone necklaces, which allegedly "bring light and energy into the body." The company puts its imported gemstones through a secret "cleansing" process, then has them strung by a Buddhist workforce in California. "It gives focus," says Jackson, who owns six of the necklaces. "Power is the focus. It makes the [wearer] conscious of the aspect that is carried." Got that? Jackson adds, "You have to put them in salt or sunshine every once in a while to regenerate their power."

Energy Muse necklaces, now admired by celebs such as Britney Spears (below, left), Usher and Kristin Davis, have been used in the sports world since Mark McGwire hung a hematite and jasper number (it was said to be "grounding") around his tree-trunk neck about five years ago. McGwire later donned a bloodstone and tiger's eye necklace, which is meant to increase endurance. "Mark's a spiritual guy, and he was my muse for that piece," says Askinosie.

The Gemological Institute of America finds no evidence that the stones have power, but how then to explain that Britney was wearing a moonstone "destiny" piece before meeting husband Kevin Federline? Or that Annika Sorenstam (above, right) had on a "performance" piece when she won the 2003 British Open? Last week the U.S. women's hockey team won twice with some players wearing "amerICAN" necklaces of red, white and blue gemstones. A summer Olympian, beach volleyball bronze medalist Holly McPeak (right), owns seven Muse pieces. "As athletes we have conflicts with opponents or coaches; different energies combat within us," says McPeak. "Anything that focuses that energy and moves it in a positive direction can't be bad. Plus I like the way they look."