Methods to inform the Distinction between Black Onyx, Jet, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline & Black Obsidian

A standard query I get from my college students in my Licensed Crystal Practitioner Course is:

Methods to inform the distinction between our many shiny black tumbled stones.

There are a number of widespread ones that every one polish up fairly shiny, making it nearly inconceivable to inform them aside; each bodily and generally even energetically.

However there are slight variations and I’m going to inform you what to search for proper right here.

I’m going to give attention to the 5 most typical ones:

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

As most black stones often are, all 5 of those are thought-about to typically be energetically grounding, protecting and often resonating properly with both the Earth Star Chakra or Root Chakra

Now let’s get into the delicate variations…

difference black obsidian onyx

Non-Mineral Stuffs

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

The non-minerals, though often lumped in with the remainder of the crystals, will not be technically minerals as a result of they don’t have one crucial facet that every one minerals will need to have: a crystalline atomic matrix, a repeating geometric sample amongst their atoms.


Jet is just not a crystal/mineral…it lacks a crystalline construction. Why? As a result of it originates from a once-living factor; a tree.  So it’s natural and never a mineral in any respect.  It’s thought-about to be coal and kinds when items of wooden from a tree get buried in sediment and get “coalified.” This course of befell a looooong time in the past; we’re speaking literal Jurassic Interval right 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

Uncooked Jet – By Geni (Photograph by consumer:geni) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], through Wikimedia Commons

Below a microscope, you possibly can see the outdated tree’s cell partitions! Fairly cool.

Due to this cell-wall type of construction, it’s very light-weight and that’s considered one of your clues when evaluating it to their black stones. Decide it up and evaluate its weight in your fingers. It nearly seems like plastic, it’s so gentle.

Though it’s often fairly uninteresting in its uncooked type, it may be polished as much as a excessive luster and be fairly shiny (as you possibly can see in my above image the place its proven in comparison with different black stones). One other tell-tale clue is that jet can look a bit dark-silvery-metallic (kind of like darkish hematite).

Energetically, jet is understood to be safely grounding + purifying whereas additionally being protecting…in a mild, non-forceful manner.

Black Obsidian

Obsidian, one other non-mineral, is a volcanic glass born actually of forceful fiery power.

Birthed in a volcanic eruption when molten lava spews up from a volcano, obsidian flies out after which cools shortly as soon as it touches the cooler land or a lot cooler water, generally forming teeny bubbles inside…and cooling a lot too shortly for its atoms to rearrange themselves within the crucial crystalline atomic construction to qualify as a mineral. This makes it a glass and never a crystal. 

obsidian sphere

So your clue right here is that every one obsidian (not simply the black selection) will likely be very clean, shiny and glassy-looking.

When you’re a tough pure piece as in my above picture (the place I’m evaluating all of those black stones), you’ll discover that obsidian often has a conchoidal fracture: a geeky-geo-term for a curved break off level when the obsidian will get chipped away.

Are you able to see that conchoidal fracture within the beneath pic?

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

Tough Obsidian – By Ji-Elle (Personal work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], through Wikimedia Commons

When you’re evaluating obsidian to onyx (2 which are very often confused), obsidian would be the lighter weight of the 2 as a result of it’s much less dense than onyx (as a result of lack of crystalline construction and inside air bubbles) and might even be translucent in spots in case you maintain it as much as the sunshine…something actually laborious to seize in a photograph for me…however I attempted within the beneath picture. See how the daylight can shine by way of it and you’ll even see some layering on the underside proper?

obsidian difference black obsidian onyx

Keep in mind that obsidian is volcanic glass so it has a direct fiery power. Maybe resulting from the way it originates, I really feel it’s not mild in its methods in any respect. Typically, it’s a fairly highly effective stone.

CAUTION: When you really feel emotionally fragile or weak, I like to recommend you attempt one other stone alternative as an alternative. 

Now this might not be true for everybody, so it’s not a blanket assertion.

You really want to work with it your self to know EXACTLY the way it will have an effect on you.

Obsidian is nice for fast & highly effective grounding, cleaning away deep or cussed adverse emotions and once you want POWERFUL psychic safety. Once more, I warning folks to solely use it once you want a very highly effective punch and to not work with it for too lengthy…except you already know you could work with it safely with no hostile results. 

Apache Tear

Apache Tear is a sub-group or sort of obsidian; basically the identical stone, each fabricated from volcanic glass and black in shade. Nevertheless, Apache Tears are black obsidian that fashioned by being thrown up into the air, giving them a a lot much less glassy and extra tough look.

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) (Personal work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], through Wikimedia Commons

Whereas black obsidian is understood to be a really highly effective stone, Apache Tears are gentler of their power and good for much less forceful emotional cleaning like working by way of grief… as a result of it’s a lot lighter and gentler in its power, it’s nice for emotional clearing whereas additionally being grounding and protecting.

The Inorganic Stuffs – True Minerals

These subsequent stones are the real-deal minerals. All minerals have a crystalline construction on the atomic degree, the place their atoms are stacked in a exact, repeating geometric sample. So these guys are extra steady and might extra effectively affect your energetic area.


Once you maintain a chunk of onyx, one factor you’ll observe is the density and “weightiness” of it. Between 2 similar-sized items of onyx & obsidian…which might look very comparable, the onyx will likely be heavier as a result of it has an precise crystalline construction, whereas obsidian doesn’t…with its random molecules & air bubbles.

Onyx tends to have a barely duller end however can polish as much as be fairly glassy! So don’t depend on that alone. Onyx might also have some banding and white-ish or grey-ish spots, however often 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) (Personal work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], through Wikimedia Commons

Onyx, being a real mineral, has that crystalline construction on the atomic degree. Why? Effectively, it had the time to type one, rising slowly underground, as crystals do.

Onyx’s power, for me, whereas protecting, is extra about grounding and strengthening. It’s additionally great for boosting your willpower and self-discipline

Black Tourmaline

Black tourmaline is a fav of mine and one of many crystals I exploit in my sacred grounding trio.

In its pure type (as seen beneath), black tourmaline is difficult to confuse with the others I’ve listed right here.

black tourmaline difference black obsidian onyx

However when it’s tumbled, it may be laborious to select b/c it polishes up comparatively properly…however often not excellent, and that’s how I often inform it from the others. You’ll usually see some divots and probably some rust from its iron content material too.

Energetically, black tourmaline is a go-to negativity neutralizer for me. As a result of it has piezoelectric and pyroelectric proprieties it’s in a position to transduce power fairly successfully! When you’re on the lookout for an excellent crystal for defense and purification that isn’t too intense…that is the one.

So there you might be.

I hope you discover this data a useful useful resource that you just’ll be capable of refer again to when wanted!

Are you able to inform the distinction now?  Do you’ve gotten these stones in your crystal assortment, and now you understand how to determine them on the fly? Discuss to me within the feedback beneath! I’d love to listen to about your favourite black crystal. 🙂

Crystal Blessings,

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