Obsidian is a gemstone, typically black, which has been used in many cultures. Most people know that Obsidian comes from volcanic activity, but not everyone knows that only a small portion of obsidian comes from lava. The name is derived from the Greek word “ob” meaning fire and “sides” meaning congealed or frozen. The etymology alone shows that Obsidian is a stone of intense energy. It is a chemical compound of the elements silicon and oxygen, a rock containing trace amounts of crystals, and in most cases, water. Its chemical makeup makes it difficult to cut or shape using standard techniques so it can only be used as a chunk of rough or inlaid into jewelry. Obsidian, also referred to as volcanic glass, is a black glassy form of rock. The prevailing view is that obsidian is formed when lava cools quickly, allowing the crystals that make up the volcanic glass to grow at the expense of silica.
Obsidian can be found in a few places on Earth, but most of it comes from Mexico and other parts of Central and South America. Its color varies from white to black depending on the type of volcanic eruptions during its formation. The most common colors found are black and brown. The black color is caused by the presence of iron, which is present in most obsidians.
Obsidian has no cleavage so it can only be cut with an extremely sharp diamond saw or some other device that will not easily dull. It is also difficult to polish and requires much effort to shine. This process is time-consuming, laborious, and costly.
Obsidian is a glassy volcanic rock. It gets its hardness from having many cracks, which crisscross the stone and act as natural stress relievers. However, it is not brittle like glass. It is elastic so it can withstand powerful forces, such as high temperatures and extreme impacts.
Also, it takes on an appearance similar to other black stones, such as basalt or onyx.
Obsidian can be used to make knives, arrowheads, and spear tips. The ancient Aztecs used it to make mirrors. It is very popular in jewelry among New Age followers.
Historically, it was used in the art of divination by the Aztecs and Mayans.
The properties of Obsidian mirror those of black tourmaline; it has been said to be a protector against negative energies and influences. It offers protection from psychic attacks, both physical and mental, and helps to balance any imbalances or disharmonies within the aura. Obsidian is a great stone to wear while meditating, as it helps to focus the mind. It can also be used as a talisman to draw love, fortune, understanding, and abundance into one’s life.
Obsidian is not just black, but any color. This variety has been called “variegated obsidian” and receives its name from the unusual watercolor-like patterns that are sometimes embedded in the stone’s surface. It is thought that these patterns are formed when gases trapped within a flow of lava are released at the surface to form bubbles, or when impurities such as gas pockets or inclusions escape from the surface of the flow. Once thought to be rare, much more variegated obsidian has been found in recent years than was known before.
Variegated obsidian is typically very hard to cut and work with, which makes it very difficult to use in jewelry. It ranges in color from white to brown, but always has a black matrix of at least 5% of the stone’s total weight.
This variety of obsidian is variously described as “layered obsidian” or having a “self-shadowing” appearance. Due to its complex and sometimes irregular surface, it is usually considered an unusual and valuable material for inlay work.
Variegated obsidian is usually formed in an outflow lava flow. It is a very rare type of obsidian that has a black matrix that ranges from 5 to 0.5% of the stone’s total weight.
Although not true obsidian, this variety is similar to it in some ways. It is found in several places on earth, but most commonly in Brazil and Venezuela.