Black is a colour of powerful contradictions. It contains the entire colour spectrum within itself, and yet absorbs energy so no light is visible. It represents darkness and death, yet it is the colour worn by nuns and priests. Black is the symbol of luxury and sophistication, or poverty and sadness. While there are many gemstones that are deep dark grey, like smoky quartz, or dark silver, like hematite, there are only four -- obsidian, black tourmaline, jet and onyx -- that through the ages have been worn to tap the mystical power of the colour black.
Black onyx is a shiny, solid stone with a waxy surface found in Mexico, Algeria and the United States. It is a form of chalcedony and occurs naturally in a variety of colours. In ancient Greek ceremonies, the image of the head of the god Mars or the figure of Hercules was engraved onto onyx and worn for courage and to protect the life force.
Obsidian, sometimes called Apache tears, is a naturally occurring black glass. It is created by volcanic lava that cooled quickly, preventing minerals from properly forming. The Aztecs regarded black as the symbol of war, because obsidian glass was used as the cutting edge of the blades of their swords and knives.They also considered black a symbol of purity, and it was the only colour worn by their spiritual leaders. Obsidian is found in Italy, Scotland, Mexico and the United States.
Jet is a black glasslike stone created by fossilised wood millions of years old. It is from this stone that the term "jet black" was coined. Jet was the only gem permitted in Queen Victoria's court while she mourned the death of her husband in the late19th century. Fishermen's wives in Britain burnt jet in bonfires to safeguard their absent husbands. The stone can be found in England, the United States, Poland, France, Germany, Spain, India and Russia.
Black tourmaline, or schorl, has an opaque crystalline structure and is usually considered too fragile and brittle to make into jewellery. It is found in solidified molten rock in areas of Brazil, Zimbabwe, the United States, Germany and England. In traditional folklore, schorl is considered a stone that protects the wearer and absorbs negativity.
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