How to tell the Difference between Black Onyx, Jet, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline & Black Obsidian

Hibiscus Moon Crystals, grounding, protection 57 Comments

A common question I get from my students in my Certified Crystal Healer Course is:
How to tell the difference between our many shiny black tumbled stones.
There are several common ones that all polish up pretty shiny, making it almost impossible to tell them apart; both physically & sometimes even energetically.

But there are slight differences & I’m going to tell you what to look for right here. 

I’m going to focus on the 5 most common ones:

  • Jet
  • Obsidian
  • Apache Tear
  • Onyx
  • Black Tourmaline

As most black stones usually are, all 5 of these are considered to generally be energetically grounding, protective & usually resonating well with either the Earth Star Chakra or Root Chakra

Now let’s get into the subtle differences…

Non-Mineral Stuffs
I’ve divided the stones into 2 sub-groups of “non-mineral” & “mineral”.

The non-minerals, although usually lumped in with the rest of the crystals, are not technically minerals, b/c they don’t have 1 very important aspect that all minerals must have: a crystalline atomic matrix, a repeating geometric pattern among their atoms.
Jet
Jet is not a crystal/mineral…it lacks a crystalline structure. Why? B/c it originates from a once living thing; a tree.  So it’s organic & not a mineral at all.  It’s actually considered to be coal & forms when pieces of wood from a tree get buried in sediment and get “coalified”. This is a process that took place a looooong time ago; we’re talking literal Jurassic Period here. 

[caption id="attachment_18763" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Raw Jet – By Geni (Photo by user:geni) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Under a microscope you can actually see the old tree’s cell walls! Pretty cool.

B/c of this cell-wall kind of structure it’s very lightweight & that’s one of your clues when comparing it to their black stones. Pick it up & compare its weight in your hands. It almost feels like plastic, it’s so light.

Although it’s usually pretty dull in its raw form, it can be polished up to a high luster & be quite shiny (as you can see in my above picture where its shown compared to other black stones). Another tell-tale clue is that jet can sort of look a bit dark-silvery-metallic (sort of like a really dark hematite).

Energetically, jet is known to be safely grounding + purifying while also being protective…in a gentle, non-forceful way.
Black Obsidian
Obsidian, another non-mineral, is a volcanic glass, born literally of forceful fiery energy.

Birthed in a volcanic eruption when molten lava spews up from a volcano, obsidian flies out & then cools quickly once it touches the cooler land or much cooler water, sometimes forming teeny bubbles within…and cooling much too quickly for its atoms to arrange themselves in the necessary crystalline atomic structure to qualify as a mineral. This makes it a glass & not a crystal. 

So your clue here is that all obsidian (not just the black variety) will be very smooth, shiny & glassy-looking.

If you’re looking at a rough natural piece as in my above photo (where I’m comparing all of these black stones), you’ll notice that obsidian usually has a conchoidal fracture: a geeky-geo-term for a curved break off point when the obsidian gets chipped away.

Can you see that conchoidal fracture in the below pic?

[caption id="attachment_18764" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Rough Obsidian – By Ji-Elle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]If you’re comparing obsidian to onyx (2 that are quite often confused), obsidian will be the lighter weight of the 2 b/c it’s less dense than onyx (due to the lack of crystalline structure & interior air bubbles) and can even be translucent in spots if you hold it up to the light…something really hard to capture in a photo for me…but I tried in the below photo. See how the sunlight can shine through it & you can even see some layering on the bottom right?

Remember that obsidian is volcanic glass so it has a direct fiery energy to it. Perhaps due to how it originates, I feel it’s not gentle in its ways at all. Generally, it’s a pretty powerful stone.

CAUTION: If you feel that you’re very emotionally fragile or vulnerable, I recommend you try another stone choice instead. 

Now this may not be true for everyone, so it’s not a blanket statement.
You really need to work with it yourself to know EXACTLY how it will affect you.
Obsidian is great for quick & powerful grounding, cleansing away deep or stubborn negative feelings & when you need POWERFUL psychic protection. Again, I do caution people to only use it when you need a really powerful punch & not to work with it for too long…unless you already know that you can work with it safely with no adverse effects. 
Apache Tear
Apache Tear is really a sub-group or type of obsidian; essentially the same stone, both made of volcanic glass and black in color. However, Apache Tears are black obsidian that formed by being thrown up into the air giving them a much less glassy & more rough appearance.

[caption id="attachment_18765" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Apache Tear – By Simon Eugster –Simon 20:06, 14 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Whereas black obsidian is known to be a very powerful stone, Apache Tears are gentler in their energy & good for less forceful emotional cleansing like working through grief… b/c it’s much lighter & gentler in its energy it’s great for emotional clearing while also being grounding & protective.
The Inorganic Stuffs – True Minerals
These next stones are the real-deal minerals. All minerals have a crystalline structure at the atomic level where their atoms are stacked in a precise repeating geometric pattern. So these guys are more stable & can more efficiently influence your energetic field.
Onyx
When you hold a piece of onyx, one thing you’ll note is the density & “weighti-ness” of it. Between 2 similar sized pieces of onyx & obsidian…which can look very similar, the onyx will be heavier b/c it has an actual crystalline structure, whereas obsidian does not…with its random molecules & air bubbles. 

Onyx tends to have a slightly duller finish, but can polish up to be quite glassy! So don’t rely on that alone. Onyx may also have some banding & white-ish or grey-ish spots, but usually no translucency.

[caption id="attachment_18766" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Onyx – By Simon Eugster –Simon 14:41, 11 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Onyx, being a true mineral, does indeed have that crystalline structure at the atomic level. Why? Well, it had the time to form one, growing slowly underground, as crystals do.

Onyx’ energy for me, while protective is more about grounding & strengthening. It’s also wonderful for boosting your willpower & discipline
Black Tourmaline
Black tourmaline is a fav of mine & 1 of the crystals I use in my sacred grounding trio.

In it’s natural form (as seen below), black tourmaline is hard to confuse with the others I’ve listed here.

But when it’s tumbled it can be hard to pick out b/c it polishes up relatively well…but usually not perfectly & that’s how I usually tell it from the others. You’ll often see some divots & possibly some rust from its iron content too.

Energetically, black tourmaline is a go-to negativity neutralizer for me. B/c it has piezoelectric & pyroelectric proprieties it’s able to transduce energy quite effectively! If you’re looking for a great crystal for protection & purification that isn’t too intense…this is the one.

So there you are.

I hope you find this info to a be a helpful resource that you’ll be able to refer back to when needed!

Can you tell the difference now?  Do you have these stones in your crystal collection and now you know how to identify them on the fly? Talk to me in the Comments below! I’d love to hear about your favorite black crystal. 🙂

Crystal Blessings,

What are the best Crystals for Busting Bad Habits?

Hibiscus Moon amethyst, Crystals, healing, health 12 Comments

Bad habits.

We all have them.

They say it takes an average of 66 days to break a bad habit.

And 21 days to create a new one.

Hey! That totally works in our favor: It only takes less than a 1/3 of the time to create a new good habit than it does to break a bad one. 🙂

Annnnd, you’ll probably be happy to know that we can use crystals to help us along with that task.
So let’s get to talking about crystal suggestions for breaking our bad habits:

A lot of times people will say something like:

  • I need to quit smoking 
  • I need to stop biting my nails 
  • I need to get into a habit of not eating junk food, or stop being lazy and “couch-potatoing” when I get home from work and get to the gym

Whatever it is that you consider to be a bad habit that you want to break out of, any bad habit you can think of…I’ve probably heard it before & have partaken in a few myself.

Of course, I’ve had my own bad habits that I’ve had to kind of bust out of.  Not exercising, eating poorly, gossiping. I used to drink Coke all of the time.  Then it was Diet Coke all the time.  Yes, I have used crystals to help me quit. 

As always, I’m not saying that crystals are the only thing you should do.  There are lots of ways, methods and all kind of things you can use to help you quit, break the bad habit & train yourself out of that habit & I feel you should use all that you have at your disposal, not just rely on the crystals alone, however, crystals can be a really powerful healthy ally, tool & support in helping you to break out of these bad habits.

Having said that, here in this blog post, I’m going to only focus on the crystals.

Crystals for Bad Habits
Amethyst:

It’s, like, the most well-known crystal for helping us to break out of bad habits.

Since ancient times, Romans used to create goblets made of Amethyst because it was well-known as an anti-drunkenness stone.  They would make the goblets of Amethyst so that the rulers & leaders could just drink and drink and drink; get everybody else stinkin’ drunk & incapacitated, but they wouldn’t be drunk themselves, thereby able to take total advantage of situations!

I haven’t tested this method out myself. 😉

[caption id="attachment_17979" align="aligncenter" width="595"] Trying to climb into my amethyst geode. ;)[/caption]

Then this anit-drunkiness reputation kind of morphed into a stone that would make you not want to drink.  Of course, we know that alcohol can be addictive.

More addictive for some than others.

I am told (have heard this from others so please correct me if I’m wrong) that in A.A. Meetings, they suggest carrying a little Amethyst with you to help on the path to sobriety.

Even if it is just for a visual reminder; like a tangible object to remind you of the path that you are on…Hey, if that’s all it is for some people, then fine!

I know & you probably know it too; Amethyst indeed has those kind of “will-power-boosting” properties, so that you don’t want to do those things you’re trying to break free of: whether it be soda, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol…whatever it is that is bad for you, that we consider a bad habit.

[caption id="attachment_17978" align="aligncenter" width="595"] Surrounded by amethyst at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show![/caption]

We all have bad habits of 1 kind or another we’d like to release. Right? It’s part of our human experience.  
Amazonite:
Another stone that’s really great to help you kind of look for the root cause of what’s holding you back, or what’s making you rely on these bad habits is Amazonite.

It’s a good reminder of your goals, and what you’re moving towards…breaking those bad habits

[caption id="attachment_10677" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Amazonite (photo credit: Rob Levinsky of irocks.com)[/caption]
Chrysocolla:
Chrysocolla is gorgeous & sometimes looks like the planet Earth. Doesn’t it?

Just beautiful.

This stone allows us to express our sacred selves while experiencing our power…yet with gentleness. It assists us with releasing fear-based actions & patterns; such as bad habits.

Staurolite:
Staurolite (aka Fairy Cross) is actually great for helping us get rid of things…including bad habits!  Sometimes you’ll find little sparkly red Garnets in there with the staurolite. Luscious!

[caption id="attachment_17976" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Carptrash at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
Black Onyx
The Black Onyx is also wonderful for boosting will-power.  That’s what you need; lots of will-power when you’re trying to break your bad habits, until the new GOOD habit becomes…well…a habit!

It also boosts inner strength.

[caption id="attachment_17977" align="aligncenter" width="600"] By Simon Eugster –Simon 14:41, 11 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]It’s not as powerful or forceful of an energy as Black Obsidian, although they look very much alike.  Black Onyx & Black Obsidian are both shiny & they’re both black.

How to tell the difference? Obsidian is usually shinier. Onyx is a bit more dull & may have white, gray or black spots or bands (see above).

Have you used crystals to support your journey towards positive change, to bust out of any bad habits you’ve held onto?  Which ones are your favs? Please share in the comments below.

Crystal Blessings! More power to you, Sparkly One, in breaking your bad habits!