Pictured are four black obsidian pyramids.

Black Obsidian: The Enigmatic Crystal with Ancient Origins

Throughout history, humanity has been captivated by the allure of gemstones and crystals, attributing them with mystical and metaphysical properties. One such intriguing gemstone is black obsidian. With its captivating jet-black appearance and rich history, black obsidian has long been revered for its unique composition, distinct properties, and its role in various cultural and spiritual practices. In this blog post, we delve into the world of black obsidian, exploring its composition, properties, and the significant ways it has been utilized throughout history.


Composition and Formation

Black obsidian is a natural volcanic glass that forms when molten lava rapidly cools without crystallization. It is primarily composed of silica, similar to other types of glass, but its distinguishing feature is its rich black colour, which is the result of impurities and the presence of iron and other trace elements. Its amorphous structure lacks a crystalline lattice, making it different from minerals formed through slow cooling and solidification processes.

Black obsidian gets its characteristic black colour due to the presence of impurities and the unique way it forms. Black obsidian is primarily composed of silica and it contains impurities and trace elements, especially iron and magnesium, which contribute to its dark coloration.

The key factor in the formation of black obsidian is its rapid cooling process. When molten lava erupts from a volcano, it is exposed to the cooler air or water, causing it to solidify quickly. This rapid cooling prevents the growth of mineral crystals within the obsidian, resulting in an amorphous structure. The lack of crystal formation and the absence of a crystalline lattice are responsible for the glassy appearance and opacity of obsidian.

The presence of iron and other impurities within the obsidian is responsible for the black coloration. Iron in its ferrous (Fe2+) state absorbs most wavelengths of light, resulting in the absorption of light across the visible spectrum. As a result, very little light is reflected or transmitted, giving obsidian its deep black appearance.
It's important to note that the exact composition and impurities in black obsidian can vary, leading to slight variations in colour and appearance. Some specimens may exhibit hints of dark brown or green, depending on the impurities present.


Is Obsidian a Crystal or a Mineral?

Though commonly referred to as a crystal, black obsidian is not technically considered a crystal or a mineral. It is a type of natural volcanic glass.Crystals are solid materials with a repeating, ordered arrangement of atoms, forming a crystalline lattice structure. Minerals, on the other hand, are naturally occurring inorganic substances with a definite chemical composition and a specific crystal structure.
Obsidian, including black obsidian, is formed from rapidly cooled lava, which prevents the formation of a crystalline structure. Instead, it solidifies as a glass, lacking the ordered arrangement of atoms found in crystals. It has an amorphous structure, meaning it is non-crystalline and lacks a specific repeating pattern.
While black obsidian does not meet the criteria to be classified as a crystal or a mineral, it is still highly valued for its unique properties and is considered a natural gemstone with spiritual and cultural significance.


Properties and Characteristics
  1. Jet-Black Beauty: Black obsidian's dark and glossy appearance is a sight to behold. Its opaque nature, devoid of any transparency, adds to its enigmatic appeal.
  2. Sharpness: One of the most notable properties of black obsidian is its exceptional sharpness. When fractured, it forms edges sharper than that of a surgical scalpel. Due to this property, ancient civilizations utilized it as tools and weapons for cutting and piercing.
  3. Protective Energy: Black obsidian is believed to possess powerful protective properties, both physically and energetically. It is said to shield against negative energies, psychic attacks, and electromagnetic radiation, making it a popular choice for energy healers and those seeking spiritual grounding.
Historical Significance and Cultural Uses
  1. Ancient Tools and Weapons: Black obsidian has been used by various ancient civilizations for crafting tools, weapons, and ceremonial objects. Its razor-sharp edges made it an excellent material for arrowheads, knives, and spearheads.
  2. Spiritual and Ritual Practices: Black obsidian holds significant spiritual importance in many cultures. Native American tribes considered it a sacred stone, using it for scrying, divination, and spiritual healing. It was also used in Aztec rituals, with priests crafting mirrors out of polished obsidian to connect with the spiritual realm.
  3. Emotional Healing and Cleansing: In the realm of crystal healing, black obsidian is renowned for its ability to assist in emotional healing and cleansing. It is thought to absorb and transmute negative energies, aiding in the release of emotional trauma and facilitating personal growth.
  4. Jewellery and Decorative Pieces: Beyond its metaphysical uses, black obsidian's captivating beauty has also made it a popular choice for jewellery and ornamental pieces. Its deep black hue and smooth surface lend an elegant touch to various accessories, such as necklaces, bracelets, and pendants.

Where is Black Obsidian Found?

Black obsidian can be found in various regions around the world, typically in areas with a history of volcanic activity. Here are some notable locations where black obsidian is known to occur:

  1. United States: Black obsidian can be found in several states across the United States. In particular, the Yellowstone National Park area in Wyoming has significant deposits of black obsidian. Obsidian can also be found in regions of California, Oregon, and Nevada, where volcanic activity has occurred.
  2. Mexico: Mexico is known for its rich deposits of black obsidian. The region around the Sierra Madre Occidental, particularly in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, and Puebla, is renowned for its high-quality obsidian. The ancient Aztecs and other indigenous cultures in Mexico used obsidian extensively for various purposes.
  3. Armenia: Armenia has a long history of obsidian use, and it is home to some notable obsidian deposits. The region around Lake Van in eastern Turkey and the Armenian Highlands is known for its obsidian sources, where it has been used for tools and ornaments since ancient times.
  4. Iceland: Iceland, with its volcanic geology, is another location where black obsidian can be found. The country has several volcanic regions, including the volcanic system around Mount Hekla, where obsidian can be discovered.
  5. Japan: Obsidian, including black obsidian, is found in various parts of Japan. Areas such as Oshima Island in Hokkaido, Chokai Volcano in Yamagata Prefecture, and the Izu Peninsula are known for their obsidian deposits.
  6. Greece: Obsidian sources exist in Greece, particularly on the islands of Milos and Santorini. The volcanic history of these regions has led to the formation of obsidian.

It's important to note that these are just a few notable locations, and black obsidian can be found in other regions of the world as well, depending on the occurrence of volcanic activity and suitable geological conditions.


Black obsidian, with its striking appearance, unique composition, and intriguing properties, holds a significant place in the realm of gemstones and crystals. From ancient civilizations to modern spiritual practices, this enigmatic volcanic glass has been revered for its sharpness, protective energy, and association with emotional healing. Whether utilized as a tool, an adornment, or a spiritual aid, black obsidian continues to captivate our imaginations and remind us of the profound connection between Earth's geological processes and our cultural and spiritual heritage.
You can add this enigmatic crystal to your collection by checking out our store here. We have a wide selection of black obsidian in various forms - tumbles, carvings, and jewellery are just a few.
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