Obsidian is a type of natural glass with a beautifully rich black color. With many varieties, this beautiful glass astounds precious stone collectors.
Obsidian was discovered around 9,000 years ago in Mesopotamia by Obsius, an explorer who gave the natural glass his namesake. Obsidian has been found in areas of volcanic activity, such as Armenia, Turkey, Japan, Ecuador, and Mexico.
The largest percentage of obsidian has been found in Mexico, where it is more plentiful. This country also has the rarest Obsidian, with red and brown tones.
Although this stone has mostly been found in the countries above, Obsidian has also been discovered in Russia, Hawaii, Peru, and Iceland. Large deposits of Obsidian have also been found in Georgia and Iran.
How Does Obsidian Form?
This igneous rock forms from volcanic magma that flows down the mountainside and cools. These rocks are extrusive because they form from magma coming out of the ground. If the rock formed within the ground, it would be called intrusive rock.
Deep within the Earth’s mantle, the heat is so intense that it melts rock. This melted rock is lighter than the surrounding materials and rises through the cracks and crevices in mountains. The magma eventually collects in holding chambers called magma chambers. This magma is around 1830 degrees Fahrenheit.
If there are weak areas in the mountain rock, the magma will escape and begin to flow down the side of the volcano. At this point, the magma becomes lava. Because the liquid lava cools very quickly, it does not have time to form crystals, so it becomes glass instead.
Types of Obsidian
Obsidian is one of the most common kinds of igneous rock. This natural glass is available in many varieties.
- Fire Obsidian
- Apache Tears
- Snowflake Obsidian
- Sheen Obsidian
- Rainbow Obsidian
The colors of Obsidian vary according to the country of origin and location. Obsidian is available in the following colors.
- Banded brown
Obsidian may also have iridescence with gold, violet, blue, silver, green, and combinations of colors. Green, blue, and reddish transparent stones are the rarest and most valuable.
While inclusions are unwelcome in some precious stones, such as diamonds, those found in obsidian make these stones more beautiful. The following are some of the inclusions featured in obsidian.
- Round inclusions
- Long, torpedo-shaped inclusions
- Tear-shaped bubbles
- Needle-like inclusions
- Protegenic silica minerals (These form Snowflake Obsidian).
Bubbles often form in parallel lines that create an almost striped appearance. Obsidian may also be mottled, depending on how the lava flowed and what minerals it picked up along the way.
What Is the Value of Ten Pounds of Obsidian?
Unlike silver and gold, there is no set price attached to obsidian. A piece of obsidian’s value will depend on its color, sheen, inclusions, and size.
Obsidian costs around $20 dollars for ten pounds in its raw form, at around $1 to $2 a pound. Because of its plentiful nature, this rock is not expensive. There are exceptions to this because some Obsidian is rarer than others. The following offers pricing information on the various types of Obsidian.
- Rainbow Obsidian sells for $20 to $50, depending on the size and coloration.
- Snowflake Obsidian sells for $8 to $25.
- Mahogany Obsidian sells for $3 to $9.
- Black Obsidian sells for $25 to $30 for pure black stone.
- Gold Sheen Obsidian sells for $10 to $20.
What Is Obsidian Used For?
Obsidian has been used throughout history in many ways. This igneous rock is very high in silica, at around 65 to 80%. The chemical composition is similar to Rhyolite. While Rhyolite contains up to 10% water by weight, Obsidian only contains around 1% water.
Native Americans, ancient Aztecs, and ancient Greek civilizations used Obsidian for weapons, tools, and ornaments. Some of the sharpest artifacts found from ancient civilizations have been made of Obsidian. Because of the hardness of this rock, it maintains a sharp edge.
The earliest Obsidian artifacts were discovered in a Paleolithic site in Ethiopia, at Melka Kunture. Here, the Balchik Volcano Dome was located only seven kilometers away.
Obsidian is one of the most common stones used in jewelry making. While black Obsidian is the most well-known, other color variations lend themselves beautifully to jewelry of all types.
When Obsidian has no inclusions, it is pure black and polished smooth. Many people prize beautiful Obsidian mirrors. Of course, their black color does not allow for full functionality like a traditional mirror, but they are exquisite finds nonetheless.
Obsidian is cut in a variety of ways. Because of its hard and brittle properties, this stone lends itself beautifully to being cut with a diamond saw. Traditionally, Obsidian is shaped into rounds, ovals, and cabochons.
The Beauty of Obsidian Shines On
For jewelry collectors, Obsidian is a prized stone, even though it is common. This rock has so many variations, making it a fun collector’s item.
No piece of Obsidian is exactly the same. Even the shapes are different. Once you see Snowflake Obsidian or Apache Tears, you will become hooked! Obideian shows off its beauty most when polished smooth.
Obsidian is beautiful natural glass that shines from within. Knowing these beautiful stones formed thousands of years ago makes them even more prized.