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

Hibiscus Moon Crystals, grounding, protection 130 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…

difference black obsidian onyx

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 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. 

Raw Jet. By Geni (Photo by user:geni) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Raw Jet – By Geni (Photo by user:geni) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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. 

obsidian sphere

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?

By Ji-Elle It feels nice and warm It feels like a ________ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Rough Obsidian – By Ji-Elle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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?

obsidian difference black obsidian onyx

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.

By Simon Eugster --Simon 20:06, 14 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativeco difference between black obsidian], via Wikimedia Commons

Apache Tear – By Simon Eugster –Simon 20:06, 14 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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.


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.

By Simon Eugster --Simon 14:41, 11 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Onyx – By Simon Eugster –Simon 14:41, 11 April 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

black tourmaline difference black obsidian onyx

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,

new signature graphic

Comments 130

    1. Post

      2. Wow, I love a site where I can come-away having learned a thing or two. So well done and easy to understand. Thank you for taking the time to help us to become informed.

        Yolanda Parham
        Baja California, Mx

      3. I have a new crystal it’s black obsidian. It’s amazing I feel so much better and I also have a black onyx in a ring that was passed down from my grandmother. I’ve never used them untill now but I am very pleased with them now.

    2. I second that Brother Bri!!! 🙂
      I haven’t been able to be around for ages but the magnetism of our magnificent mentor, guru & friend, drew me back to my crystal cohort & family!!! 🙂 Yaaaay!!! 🙂
      Love, light, limitless crystal blessings & gratitude to all you crystal hotties!!! XOXOXOXOX

      And especially to my Bro… :-* I miss & love you dearly!!! Hoping to catch up very soon! Know you’re always in my thoughts, prayers, healings & crystal grids! Love you to Gaia’s core & back again a squillion times Bro! 😉 :-* xox Namaste beloved 🙂

    3. I can’t figure out how to leave my own comment here, so I’m adding it to yours! Ty for the great info! Helps a lot. I need some Apache tears!

    4. I have a bowl full of these amazing black stones, not sure what they are. Black, metalic shine, with blues and gold and green hues in the shine. Very light weight, easy to break. I find them walking along the rocks next to the train tracks in northern Minneaota.

      1. Sounds like labordorite, but mine hasn’t broke and doesn’t strike me easy to break and not sure if labordorite is found around traintracks.
        💜LUV,N LIGHT,

    1. Post
      1. My son in law found Obsidian in his yard while preparing the soil for landscaping. He had no idea what it was but thought it interesting enough to bring it to my attention. At first glance coal was my guess. A couple days later I went online with a excellent discription and here I am. Good article, and I’ll be experimenting with the properties mentioned. I will be reading all the comments, love to know what others have to say

    1. Post
  1. You’re so right to warn emotionally vulnerable people against obsidian. I have bipolar disorder, and black obsidian always drags me down emotionally. I prefer to use onyx and black tourmaline. I appreciate all the distinctions you’ve made. Thank you!

  2. I mostly like to carry black tourmaline as it is subtler than the others. But after reading about Apache Tear, I think I will add it to my mix of stones I carry. Interesting facts on obsidian.

  3. Oh I’m still confused! lol We have these huge chunks of “rock” that we found on the beach which are black and I had thought they must be Obsidian, but they don’t quite fit your description. I don’t see any distinctive conchoidal fracture, but I’m curious if that’s because they’ve been rolling around the ocean for years. And in some areas, there’s a bit of purple rainbow.

  4. Along with everyone else I say:

    Thank you.

    Have been in the process of increasing my grounding stones, having only my intuition and a basic understand of the black and shiny.

    I added mostly tourmaline as I feel comfortable with this mineral.

    To which I have ordered 4 black obsidian arrow heads – am aware that I need some extra protection and intend placing these stones onto a small grid. I suffer depression/anxiety/fibromyalgia – will handle with care after reading your article.

    Have also done the basics, such as smudging my home, playing my Tibetan bowl and cymbals. My home felt better immediately while smudging – I don’t care if it’s just my imagination, my home is feeling like home again.

    Would love to have more information on the most (for me) beguiling of the black stones: Nuummite



    1. Post
      1. You use either a streak plate (resembles a small tile) or a rock that you are sure of it’s hardness, and scratch either the rock you’re testing (if you think that it is harder than the rock you know) or scratch it with the rock you’re testing. Since rocks are on a scale that goes up to 10 (I think there’s an exception that is an 11) one will usually scratch the other unless they are the same hardness. When you scratch a rock with a softer rock, there is a streak left behind by the softer material. Streaks tell you more about the color composition of the tested rock and can sometimes give you the final clue to identify a specimen.

  5. Thank you Hibiscus! I love my black tourmaline also. I have been drawn to biotite black mica for awhile now. Not sure why. I love your posts. You are a breath of fresh air!

  6. yay! i have wondered how to tell them apart, and was guessing for the most part. i went through all my black coloured stones after reading your descriptions. i don’t have any jet or apache tear, but was able to quickly and definitively identify the other three. i started purchasing black tourmaline in the rough form to make it easier, the tumbled pieces i have do contain some divots that are not polished. the ones i ‘thought’ were onyx have some grey or white-ish blotches, so they are.
    thank you!

  7. Hello Sister I saw your analyse of black stone very interesthing but I found other one very power full and try to prouve its really this so its black jasper (lydienne jasper) I collect in lava or near lava near the sea very black only no white very hard around 7.5 This stone was cristal clear and melted whit lava but not mix because density differente follow the flow whit lava and carbon change the cristal black,40years collect stone specially jasper but first time found black for me is the most of powerful stone for protection Love and Light God bless you Shamannanda

  8. Hibiscus Moon, I think you brought clarity to the black stone differences. I did not know Apache Tear was Obsidian also. My favorite is: Black Tourmalene. Also, I consider my Smokey Quartz a black stone and great healer, but I guess it’s lighter than the ones mentioned. . Keep teaching and sharing, I teach folks about stones when they come to my home and look at my collection.

  9. Nice to see all that info grouped together.. Now maybe I’ll remember it!! Awesome job!! I’ve always known about Onyx and Tourmaline but over the last 30 years have forgotten the facts about the the others!! Most I could remember was that I used them for grounding… Hahaha. Thanks great article

  10. VERY helpful!!! I’ve always been confused by this and wondered when buying these stones if I was really getting what I thought I was buying, especially since people don’t always put things back where they got them. 🙂 Thank you!

  11. So helpful, thank you! Don’t remember where I stumbled across your site but glad I did. Love your easy to understand explanations & wit. What a fun place to be! <3

  12. very informative, im relatively new to this in a way. does the obsidian come in only black? i have this pink rock?, stone? that looks like glass, yet has rock formation.

  13. Thank you so much for that info.

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned in your article, though. When you consider buying black tourmaline, hold the piece up to a bright light. Sometimes it will actually be green tourmaline, but it’s hard to tell the difference. True black tourmaline will remain black, and usually opaque.

    Again, thanks for the info. Now I can tell the difference between black onyx and obsidian.

  14. I love them, thank you for making it a bit clearer to pick them apart. I am wearing Onyx the most right now. Just right for what I need going on. Love your work. xx.

  15. Thank you for this great information. It is helpful. Yet, I still don’t know what this crystal that I am so attracted to is. Any chance you can help me decipher what it is? I have a good picture, but I don’t know how to get it to you. Doesn’t seem to let me add a photo here. Thank you.

  16. Very interesting piece. I think I have either a very large obsidian or Apache Tear, although it does have a green tinge to it. We found it on the beach in Wales when I was 4, I am now 44 and I still have it.

  17. Very informative article!! Thank you. Do you think black tourmaline will also be the best one for electromagnetic polution, or will you reccomend a completly differnt crystal to help with electromagnetic sensitivity?

  18. This is SO helpful! Now I can identify a few of my black stones I’ve had for a while that haven’t been out in a while. Yay!

  19. I love me some dark grounding stones! This is a great post, thank you! I’ve always been drawn to tourmaline: the way its crystals grow in layers next to or upon each other makes me feel like I can hold the weight of what is brought upon me. Love your posts! Blessings.

  20. Have you ever worked with Tibetan Black Quartz? I bought a beautiful piece not too long ago. It sang to me and I love it. It seems to be a very powerful crystal for healing. I’ve had it verified by 2 different people in the field and would love your thoughts on this one. I too am fairly new (2+ years now) to the Craft, but get me near crystals or rocks and I go crazy!

  21. Great article! Very helpful.
    What about Black Agate and Kyanite. Hemitite can be dark too. Not sure if it has brown in it.

  22. I had wondered how I could be certain the black stone I was contemplating bringing into my collection was indeed what the label said it was…. people tend to pick things up and put them down [wherever] without much thought whether it is the right place or not.

    Obsidian and Apache tears are stones that are personally very important to me and my work. I find it interesting how I was always drawn to these from very early in my life. I also use tourmaline, and now that I know it USA piezoelectric energy, I will be using it for more applications. I use onyx to a lesser degree.

  23. Thank you for sharing another informative post.

    I find obsidian difficult to be around sometimes . . . I used to be with a large chunk of it weekly (when volunteering at the “rock cart” at our local museum) but maybe some of the discomfort of the frequency of our visits was due to it being from a supervolcano. Perhaps obsidian from a different source would be less intense and easier to be around. I have had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of black tourmaline in the past few months and we seem to get along well. 😉 (Seems I’m starting this journey by embracing the value of grounding minerals.)

    1. Great site and great resource for exploring crystals. You instill the knowledge, in your readers, to make their non-precious gem stones “precious”. Truly a beautiful gift you are sharing. You conceptualise beauty and purpose in all that exists below the earths mantle and above it. The maxim “as it is above so if is below” resonates strongly with your life work. Your love of sharing the knowledge you have “dug up” so to speak, and in this current life time, reveals your own energy and true alignment as a sojourner and a beautiful child of the universe.

  24. Thanks for the information. But, I have this black sphere in my me for years and don’t know what is it? I thought it is a black obsidian. Seems shiny but there are couple of stratches..color is white. I can see one tiny blue color on the black area. I wish i can send the photo to you for advice. I hope this is not fake.

  25. Maria, there is such a thing as “rainbow obsidian” that displays blues and purples in certain lights. I have a piece of it that shows sort of oil slick colors in certain lights, and I got it from a reputable dealer. Hope this helps.

  26. Wow, this was very helpful indeed. I’m still a little confused about one crystal that I bought today which at the time I was told the name but somehow thinking I would easily recall later, I have now forgotten. I went online to see if I could figure it out and happily found your site. It has helped me a great deal, since I actually have Tourmaline and other crystals – so your tutorial does help. But, I still can’t seem to figure out what this name escaping crystal is!
    I thought based on descriptions and looks that it was Obsidian, but now I’m not so sure.
    It has silvery scratches which I can see despite it being tumbled. It has a look to it which makes me think of hematite on it’s one side (it has an irregular shaped stone look) – in the light it has a silvery shimmer. It seems a little transulcent (on that one hematitle looking side). It’s pretty weighty, for it’s size of about 2 inches. The silvery scratches which run throughout it, don’t only run one way. They seem to run both vertically and horizontally. In the dark, it looks black. In the light, you can see it has very silvery shimmery lines. It’s interesting though, on only the one side, it has a full on “Hematite look”. But, none of the other sides have that Hematite look.
    Can you or anyone tell me what you think it could be? And also, if I can show a picture of it? Not sure it will help, since I realize that it’s hard to capture the transluency or silver shimmer in a photo.

    1. Hey Sandi… You’ve probably already figured out what it is by now, but if not… maybe it’s ‘Silver Sheen Obsidian’? Kind of sounds like it…

  27. Thank you and very informative. I’m still not quite sure. I have a black turtle with an abalone shell that I bought from a Native Reservation. I thought it was obsidian but it is very heavy…..thinking it may be tourmaline.

  28. Thank you very much : very useful!

    As a chemist I’d like to say that if Obsidian is not crystalline it is nevertheless mineral (silica) and not at all organic. I love Obsidians, immediately warm in my hands and I stand up for
    them! This is just to make you smile…

    1. Ach… just had to scroll down a bit for your answer. lol.

      So.. not Silver Sheen Obsidian then. Cool.. glad you found out! 🙂

      I’ll have to check out Hypersthene now!

  29. You should edit this to include shungite. It’s one of my absolute favorite of the darker variety. ❤️⭐️ Shungite has so many great properties. I use it more than black tourlimine in my daily practice.

  30. I always thought apache tear had red “tears” in it. Something about the tears of blood the apache shed. I’m probably mixing up my stories so if you can shed some light……..thank you,Hibiscus❤

  31. I’m still having trouble deciding what this ring that was a gift from my daddy, who passed last year is. I think he said it was onxy… Would love to find out. Please💔

  32. Hi! I’m a very emotional person (gets teary easily) and lack of self confidence, got difficulty communicating with others. Can you recommend something that suits me? Thks!

  33. Is it possible to tell a black stone they has been polished and set in a sterling ring?

    My sense is that it is either jet or onyx, and from your description I feel it’s jet.

    I can see the back of the stone in the setting, which looks dull and feels rough. I see no sign of any translucency, striations or differences in color

  34. I have apachectearxshich looks as you described. I also have obsidian. I just received *polished* apache tear and they look identical to my polished obsidian! Is this common?

  35. So blessed to have found you, Hibiscus Moon!

    I have had great success wearing my black onyx…which was believed to be jet. The jeweler quickly contacted me to correct the miscommunication she was given and sent me the jet pendant that I thought I was actually wearing.

    Question: can I wear both the black onyx and jet together? I love both of their offerings.

    Sending you blessings!

  36. Hi. I just got some Apache Tears that are ‘naturally polished’. They are nice but had a question. They are very light in weight, and are translucent with a back light. Is this what they are like? They seem way too light, but that may be right.


  37. Great article first off. 🙂
    i have a question though,
    I see that the obsideon is translucent a little in the light. Is Jet at all translucent in light?
    Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully answering that question.

  38. I’m pretty sure I have an apache tear however in the light it becomes quite interesting and transparent. What do you think of this?

  39. I found black tourmaline to me so grounding that I can only have it near me for a short period of time! It makes me extremely tired if worn for too long but it’s also protective. I love black obsidian. It helps me get the truth of an issue quickly and clears my aura in minutes. It seems fast acting. Great post!

  40. Reading your page I believe you can help me. Can you tell me something about SHUNGITE? I want to use it for health and read something about it containing fullerines??? Is it healthy to say…put in a glass of water as they say then drink the water- I want to be safe and know what I’m dealing with here. Thank you very much 🙂

  41. A girl friend of mine was in a rock shop, and was given a black stone by a woman whom I believe may have owned the store.we believe it to be black tourmaline. Based on your description. But she told my friend I think you need to carry this in your pocket for a while, and said I don’t know what’s happened to her but said she sensed something bad and told her to I think to rest or something and to carry the stone with her for awhile. That was sometime between thanksgiving and December. The reason I’ve explained all this is because it seems to have changed almost, it was very shinny attractive stone . But it has become very brittle, and has just deteriorated to a dust but still has some shine in its long striations, has now lost about half its size. We are just curious about this behavior, could any of this mean anything, or may it have lost its power?

  42. My black stones, I seem to go for,Are #1,psilomelane, the crown silver mine variety,sometimes called black merlinite.Seriously protective.Aegirine,a negativity sheild. Nothing gets through. Astrophylite, and Nuumite, are up there too. but For grounding, always carry or wear hemitite.

  43. This is SUPER helpful as I like black stones because of their grounding, protection and absorbing negativity. However, I get them mixed up in my mind (now which one was good for that?) and in my eyesight because the polished stones can look so similar, though they do feel and weigh differently…. So I appreciate the physical and metaphysical descriptions. When I buy a new black stone now, I keep it in a marked baggie, LOL.

  44. I found this very interesting and some of these crystals are also my favorites for staying grounded and protected, especially black tourmaline. Would you also included shungite in this group?

  45. Thank you for helping me differentiate between the 4 stones! I love your energy and your knowledge.

  46. Thanks for this article it has given some clarification for me.
    I find black agate and black onyx very hard to differentiate, aegerine might prove a problem but is not often tumbled and the crystals are a tad different from Tourmaline, I call the latter the Mercedes Benz stone, because of its termination being like the MB logo! Glad I found your site.

  47. My Black Obsidian find was on camera. I was working My Name is Earl. We were at Mira Loma Prison yard in Lancaster, CA. I was in the “yard” walking alone, bent down and pulled a Black Obsidian from, basically, a ground of silica dust and brown clay. It’s quite rounded, naturally, and palm sized.

    My Black Tourmaline I found roaming the spoils of old gold mines in CA. Many don’t understand “spoils.” “Normal mined rocks,” are a lot of rocks in an area that were not deposited by a slide from a mountain (where the water would naturally carry rocks). So, if any of you are rock hounds and like to stop and search. Learn the patterns (differences) of where naturally occurring rock pools on flat surfaces are created by water vs man-made spoils from mining operations of many years past.

    Death Valley, CA drive on the southern section will reveal a very large explosion of rocks, very large and jagged edged, on the desert floor. Those were, literally, exploded from a mountain walling in a very large body of water that, like a dam, exposed a weakness to cause the catastrophic expulsion of boulders, a mile away from their point of origin.

  48. Thank you so much for this article! I was just wondering the other day how to differentiate all of the black stones.

    I recently purchased an onyx, an obsidian, and a mystery black stone, that I couldn’t for the life of me remember purchasing. It was either another onyx or another obsidian. After reading your article, I realized it was fairly lightweight and smooth, so I’m pretty sure it is another onyx. Yay!

    I’m glad to know this, since it wouldn’t be a good idea to confuse the two, being that obsidian has intense energy.

  49. If I were to walk around with Black tourmaline between my buttocks would it make me feel like less of a bendejo.

  50. I have a giant Snowflake Obsidian found in Flagstaff by my husband 35 years ago. It’s about 2.5 ft. tall, 2 ft across and takes a cherry picker to move it. It’s in my front yard!

  51. Loved and found this very helpful article in identifying these. However, and you did say, we are all different. For me, Apache Tear is my all time favorite. I can literally feel it healing me as I hold it near the heart chakra. I don’t feel that lift from any other black stone. I’ve tested it several times and I can literally feel my heart soften and lighten up when holding it to my heart chakra. Doesn’t work so well with Tourmaline – don’t feel its energy the same way, but snowflake, apache and obsidian do something for me. I guess I need the powerful stones, although I only work with them for a few minutes at a time, they are the grandest of all.

  52. How do I decide whether onyx or tourmaline is the right one for me? I want to make a lariat on a leather chord and wear it around my neck. Would that be ok? I’m thinking about mixing it with tigers eye also.

  53. I really want to start getting some pieces of any stones you think are good…BUT…I’m so afraid of not getting something quality or even what it says it’s supposed to be. Like for instance, should we steer clear of getting things from Ebay, where it says it’s from China? How much should you pay for pieces, and does size matter? So hard to know! Why are there SO many small great stones, if we need to pay attention to the size? Which stones SHOULD be bigger?

    Please help!

    1. Jennifer,
      If you want to be certain of the origin of your stones, buy them from the people who mined them. The further you get from the source, as in, how many hands it has passed through, the more likely the information about it has been screwed up, either by willful misrepresentation or errors of memory, which you can see from these comments are very common and innocent. People nevertheless like certainty, so a person may buy a stone from someone who says they “think” its obsidian, but the buyer dismisses the uncertainty and hangs on to the name, then later passes the stone along confidently as such. You asked about Chinese-source goods on Ebay, and this is often the case with those materials, as the government there has many programs for economic development in which sellers are basically franchisees selling the same general assortment of goods they actually know nothing about. If you find something you like, check the rest of their inventory. If they sell thousands of varied items, a few rocks, baby items, sexy wigs and craft supplies, car accessories, small electronics, etc., what are the odds they really know anything about the rocks? To drill it down further, try asking questions. Almost always, they will disclaim any personal knowledge and say they are just telling you what their “supplier” told them. And this is the same even if you buy from someone who sells nothing but rocks! Remember that these are budding capitalists. They are business people, not rock people. They are focused on selling, not educating or informing or sharing the love. Not that there is anything inherently wrong in such a focus, but you can see it changes the stakes for a buyer, even if the seller himself believes the info he’s answering with. So not all the bad information is deliberate misrepresentation, but its still incorrect. And of course there are plenty, plenty of people who just dont care, and they will lie to you right through their smiling teeth. Never, ever assume goodwill.😉

  54. This post helped me quickly identify what’s been a “mystery” mineral of mine as tumbled black tourmaline.

    As a fairly new visitor to your site (I found it earlier this week) I’m thrilled to find someone pairing detailed scientific information with in-depth, firsthand metaphysical knowledge — all in a comfortable, conversational style.

    I love rocks, I love to learn, and your work here is a gift.

  55. With a magnifying glass, I was able to compare the surfaces of two jewellery pieces that I own: a black onyx signet ring and a black tourmaline bead bracelet. The onyx piece is mirror smooth, while the tourmaline piece has tiny variations in texture and color. It’s inspiring to learn more about the stones in this way. Thanks!

  56. Wow, thank you for this. I had been using black obsidian as a generic “protection against negativity” stone, and the more I used it, the more I felt it was not the kind of gentle, safe, grounding protection I needed. I now understand why it’s been making me feel this way: I can now use it in safer, more accurate ways. Thank you so much for this wonderful article combining science and spirituality.

  57. Hi There, I would invite you to come to the Kino Park and see the Rough Black Tourmaline that we mine in Australia and all the other stones in rough and polished. Our Company is ARADON and for more information email Light and Blessing Marlene

  58. Can I send a picture of my black stone I still can’t tell what it is. Seems to have some red and white and when it’s in my pocket and heated up those colors show up more.

  59. Hi, thanks for the article. I’m trying to ID a bit of my girlfriend’s jewelry. It’s a necklace with a string of black stones,random cubish shaped, small pieces, shiny, very solid, very even pure black color, very opaque. No hint of stratification or color variations.
    What stands out is it’s definitely a little bit on the light side for stone.
    Any idea what it might be?

    1. I think I answered my own question. Most likely jet. Dunno how I missed you saying it’s LIGHTWEIGHT! in the article. 😉

  60. My girlfriend wore a necklace last night with a large black stone in it. None of these listed though. It was rough and sparkled like a crystal. Sorry I don’t have a photo but can you guess?

  61. I was looking for a comparison of snowflake obsidian and apache tear. The two samples I have – the snowflake obsidian is small, dull, with small white flakes; and the larger pieces are glassier with large flakes in – much more like glass. Is there a difference ? Or do I do have two versions of the same thing?

  62. hello there
    i have a couple of dark stones i picked up close to a old mining area and your article got me all confused because the stones i have well kinda look like onyx , apache tear ,and black obsidian on its raw form non polished, , they are not verry strong it can break if applied force when hit to the ground ….i like to collect mineral stones and know its exact nature you know ? can you help me identify pls if i send you clear pictures ?

  63. Hi. I just found your page while I was searching the web in hopes of finding out what type of stones I have found. I have a special extremely secluded chunk of land in the mountains of West Virginia. The river runs along side of my property. There tends to be a good amount of these beautiful black(sometimes looks a deep blue)shiny very lightweight rocks that I’ve became very intrigued with. We play in the rivers and all water very often all around the US and I’ve never found anything quite like these stones. They seam to have such a all around good vibe. When I am in the water where they are found I enduo with such clarity and sence of renewed self worth. I’ve asked a few ppl and have done countless searches on Google but never given an exact answer on what type of stones I’ve been blessed to have found. And hoping you can possibly help me find the answer. I appreciate your time Thanks

  64. I recently came across a black chunky rock..its 1lb or better.. dull black with white spots , on the sides of the rock it’s been chipped and the middle layer of this rock chunk it’s beautiful shiny nearly perfect blackness
    .I tried the lighter /water test and the rock did not melt at all…can I send u a picture and get ur opinion??

  65. TY! I was JUST trying to sort out a handful of black stones i have. This post is helpful in a lot of ways but i am still having trouble with a couple of them. The one stone you didnt mention here is Agate. there is a black agate that you did not show.. if you might have any info on that stone as well it would be greatly appreciated. i think one or two of the black stones i have here might just be the agate variety of the black stones but i am not sure.. UGH

  66. Wonderfully put. I work in the crystal and mineral wholesale business. And you have explained this so beautifully and simply. I’ve even learned a few things I didn’t know. I really thank you for taking the time to research and write the post’s you do. Namaste!

  67. I’m trying to figure out which healing Sun sign Leo stones I have and some of my healing stones are black tourmaline and onyx. I have a black stone, but I’m not sure which one it is. It’s fairly light and it’s smooth but I wouldn’t classify it as glassy. I’m not sure what kind of stone it is; can anyone help me?

  68. A lot of information I didn’t know and was looking for. I would have liked to see examples of both rough and polished states as they look so differently in each. At least now I do have a clearer understanding of my favorite stones.

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