Catherine Turner on what her brightly-coloured chakra bracelets mean and why it's OK to lust after gems with megawatt style as well as substance

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Last week after yoga class someone asked me what the cotton bands around my wrist meant. Good question. We all seem to be sporting rainbow-coloured bracelets whether they're simple cotton strings tied in a knot like mine, right through to beautiful precious stone or beaded and bejewelled ones. So what could they mean?

It's thought that the tradition of tying cotton wrist strings began with Hinduism. I got my red and yellow ones while I was on my big trip to India, at a meditation and yoga centre in the Himalayas. As part of the traditional Hindu rituals called Pujas on the retreat, the priest would tie the strings around each person's wrist while chanting sacred prayers in Sanskrit to "seal" the blessing. You also see it in many other spiritual practices. In Buddhism, red cotton strings are worn to represent the union of body and soul; and in Kabbalah, fine red wool bands are protection and to ward off misfortune.

Beyond religious cotton tied strings, gemstones are widely known for their healing properties based on mineral content and colour. And colours themselves are thought to have vibrational energy, which is where the relationship with our chakras or energy centres comes in.

Do they "work"? Well, whenever I catch sight of mine, or touch them, I'm reminded of their spiritual significance, bringing me back to the peace and calm I experienced in India. They also make me feel connected to the group I was with, and I'll wear the bands until they fall off naturally as you're meant to. When they eventually do, I think I will feel a little sad, so I've made up my mind to treat myself to a new bracelet with meaning. The one I get might be style over spiritual, but it'll mean something to me. Here are the ones on my wish list:

Carolina Bucci Love Charm Bracelet, £550,

The über grown-up luxe version of a friendship band, this is woven in 18 carat rose gold and red silk with a gorgeous gold heart charm that makes it all the more precious.

Monica Vinader Mini Lunar Bracelet (in gold with carnelian stone), £95,

Lovely, delicate chain bracelet with a simple single precious stone – warm, orange-toned carnelian is thought to boost happiness, self-esteem and courage.

Monica Vinader Joy Fuji Gem Bracelet, £185,

Just the bright yellow of this will make you smile, plus it's set with sparkling orange sapphires, some believe that these stones have anti-depressant qualities.

Detail Gold Friendship Bracelet, £90,

These look great in all the colours – either wear lots or go for the one which resonates. At the moment, I'm drawn to blue which is the fifth chakra – the throat area – representing communication.

Aurélie Bidermann Set of Two Mother of Pearl Charm Bracelets, £75,

More playful and fun, this set makes a great gift. If you're the giver make sure you tie them on to seal the love…

Mulberry Zodiac Bracelets, £40,
With little charms based on Chinese horoscope and a choice of pink or black cord, these make very sweet presents. The year of the Rabbit or Tiger are super cute.

Satya Acceptance, Wisdom, Serenity and Confidence Bracelets, £38,
Wear these simple beaded bands together. Each one is made of stones with healing properties (Acceptance is made of smoky topaz for positive energy), as well as a symbol (Serenity has the lotus flower for new potential).