Black Coloured Gemstones

Black Coloured Gemstones
by Alice Koh
[For educational purpose only].

Black is the absence of light; colour is a phenomenon of light. Black conceals rather than illuminates; it absorbs rather than refracts light, think of black holes. Black represents darkness, evil and despair. Black is also associated with authority and demonic magic. During the Victorian era, mourning black jewellery was in style. Today it is still fashionable to wear black jewellery, but these gemstones are not easily available and must be search for them online.

The most popular of the black gemstone is Tourmaline.

Black Tourmaline

One of the most loved black gemstone varieties is the black tourmaline. Black tourmaline is also known as schorl. It is durable as it comes with a hardness ranging from 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.

Tourmaline occurs in almost every colour of the rainbow. Black tourmaline gemstones come in huge sizes.

Black tourmaline is the most powerful gemstone known to man. It possesses a genuinely magical phenomenon of becoming a magnet upon heating, cooling or rubbing it. It will become electrically charged with one end positive and the other negative. It can then attract tiny dust particles.

18th century Swedish botanist Carl Von Linne called tourmaline "the electric stone." Black tourmaline is the stone that shamans and medicine men used in ancient times in their healing rituals. It is a soothing and calming stone, magnetic and spiritual, that promotes meditation, mysticism and wisdom.

Tourmaline also gives inspiration, happiness and positivity to the wearer. It is a powerful stone for protection and purification. Black tourmaline in particular is a grounding stone. It is. a strong psychic shield as it clears negative energy and transforms it into positive energy. Black tourmaline enhances feelings of security and confidence.

In this modern world, we are inundated with harmful electro-magnetic frequencies known as EMF pollution. These microwave radiation are emitted from computers, cell phones, wifi routers, microwave ovens, other smart devices and electronics. Black tourmaline which has iron in it, has the power to neutralize this radiation.

Tourmaline is the official gemstone for October and is the traditional gift to celebrate 8th wedding anniversary.

Black Star Sapphire

Black star sapphire is another one of the most popular black gemstone varieties. In order to enhance the star effect, black star sapphire are cut en cabochons. It is best viewed under a focused flashlight. The golden ray black sapphire comes from Thailand.

Sapphire has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale. Sapphire gemstones which are a form of corundum occur in every colour except red. Red corundum is ruby. The name sapphire is derived from the Latin "saphirus" and the Greek "sapheiros", both of which mean blue.

Sapphire is believed to banish envy and jealousy and promote faithfulness in a love relationship. It is known as the stone of wisdom and it gives faith and hope to the wearer. It is considered a great gemstone of protection against mental and spiritual attacks and giver of wealth and fortune, and confidence to the wearer. It boosts mental clarity and motivation. It helps the wearer achieve his or her goals and ambitions. It gives peace and calmness to a chaotic life. It is the stone of the nobility used since ancient times.

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the traditional gemstone gifted for 5th, 45th and 70th wedding anniversaries. It is considered a gemstone of prosperity, success and abundance.

Black Star Diopside

Diopside gemstone is known for its natural vivid green chrome colour. But it is the black diopside that displays the star effect.

Star diopside is a chatoyant black to greenish black diopside which is sometimes traded as "Black Star of India". Green star diopsides are extremely rare. Black star diopside can be confused with black star sapphire. However what differentiates one from the other is their hardness. As with all sapphires, black star sapphire has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale whereas star diopside has a hardness ranging from 5-6 on the Mohs scale.

Star diopside occurs with a beautiful glass-like luster and is normally cut into oval or round cabochons. These cabochons are typically biconvex and the bottoms are left rough and unpolished.

Star diopside has a very unique asterism. A white star can be easily seen against the dark diopside body colour and this asterism only exhibits four rays. Most star gemstones feature six-ray asterism. In addition, star diopside's rays are crooked and slightly wavy because they are not at 90° right angles.

Star diopside samples sometimes are so heavily included with magnetite needle-like inclusions that they carry a strong magnetism. This magnetic power is believed to help star diopside in healing the body, soul and mind of the wearer.

Star diopside is also known as the 'crying stone' as it brings powerful emotions to those in need of a catharsis.

Black Spinel

Spinel occurs in many different colours such as red, blue, pink, purple and black. For centuries it was mistaken for ruby and it was valued the same as ruby. Today fine red spinel is rarer than ruby but less valuable.

Spinel has an excellent hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale and it displays a high clarity. Spinel is never treated in any way and continues to be a great substitute for ruby and sapphire. Black spinel is available in various sizes and is suitable for any jewellery design.

Spinel gives happiness and revitalizes the wearer. It gives the determination to tackle any difficult situation, boosts confidence and creativity.

Spinel is the official birthstones for the month of August and is also the traditional gift for the 22nd wedding anniversary.

Like black tourmaline, black spinel is also known to act as a protective barrier against EMF pollution. It is known as a detoxifying gemstone that helps purge cellular waste and toxins.

The most important sources for black spinel are Thailand and Australia.

Black Agate

Agate is a multicoloured form of chalcedony quartz that formed beautiful and unique layered patterns. Bands run through the stone in different colours, shadows and patterns. Depending on the base of the bands, it may exhibit a yellow, green or blue-white fluorescence. Each specimen is unique just as each slice from the same specimen has its own pattern.

The most common colours in agate are yellow, red, brown, green, white, black, gray, lilac and pink. It is translucent to opaque and comes in rounded nodules with coloured inclusions.

Agate has a waxy-dull luster and a Mohs hardness rating of about 7. This means that it is hard enough to scratch glass and strong enough to withstand scratches from a knife.

Agate was seen as a holy instrument that could be used in war. It made the wearer powerful and confident and ensured a victorious outcome of the battle.

It was believed that amulets made from agate protected the wearer from thunder and lightning, tempests, all malevolent elements and dangers from war. Placing one in the mouth also relieved fever. Agate mixed with certain fruit juices was thought to cure insanity.

One type of agate is onyx.

Black Onyx

Onyx derives its name from the Greek ONYX, ONYCHOS and means a fingernail.

This is in reference to the Greek story of Cupid who upon finding his mother Venus asleep on the river bank, cut her fingernails with one of his sharp arrowheads. These clippings became stones which resembled flesh-coloured onyx with white bands.

Onyx is the parallel banded variety of silicate mineral chalcedony. Agate and onyx are varieties of the banded chalcedony. The only difference is that the onyx has parallel bands while agate has concentric bands.

Onyx has a hardness ranging from 6.5 - 7 on the Mohs scale. It has a waxy to dull luster and is typically opaque. When it is cut and polished, onyx is typically free from inclusions. It has a fluorescence that varies according to the bands, moderately strong with yellow to blue-white.

Most often, Onyx is identified by its black base and white upper layer with parallel bandings. However, it can be solid pitch black too. These are often dyed.

The most familiar onyx is black and white-banded. This is also known as "true" or "Arabic" onyx.

Throughout history, onyx is believed to bring powers of protection and the reduction of sexual desires.

Onyx is a powerful protective stone. It absorbs and transforms negative energy and strengthens emotional well-being.

Black onyx is known to act as a barrier to harmful EMF waves.

Black Jasper

Jasper derives its name from the French JASPRE, the Latin JASPIS, and the Greek IASPIS, meaning "spotted or speckled" gemstone.

Jasper is a silicon dioxide mineral of dull, vitreous luster. It is a variety of chalcedony which is a microcrystalline quartz (its crystals cannot be seen by the naked eye). Usually Jasper is opaque because it contains enough non-chalcedony material (impurities and foreign material) to interfere with the passage of light. It is these impurities and foreign materials that give jasper its colour and opacity. Iron, iron oxide and manganese are typical mineral impurities in jasper.

Jasper comes in all colours. They are mostly in striped, spotted or swirling patterns of red, green, yellow, brown and black and organic-looking patches that make jasper an amazing and unique gemstone.

Jasper's hardness is 7 on the Mohs scale. As jaspers can be found all over the world, they are quite affordable.

Jasper is one of the main stones for period 8 feng shui. Throughout history, jasper has been known prominently as the “Supreme Nurturer." It is a stone of endurance, perseverance and tenacity. It comforts and protects, calms and relaxes, soothes troubled minds and restores balance to the body and spirit.

Black Garnet

It was the occultist Albertus Magnus in 1270 who gave the name Garnet to this precious stone. He described this mineral as GRANATUS, meaning SEED, due to the resemblance of the stone's form and colour to pomegranate seed.

The garnets are a complex family of minerals. They all have similar structures but vary widely in chemical composition, properties and hardness. They come in a variety of colours ranging from pink, cinnamon brown, orange, yellow, green, purple, blue, black and colourless. But most often they occur in beautiful pomegranate red. The luster of garnets ranges from vitreous (glass-like) to resinous (amber-like). It is translucent to opaque.

All garnets fall between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale which means they can be used in almost any type of jewellery. However, garnet as a gemstone is rarely found in very big carat sizes.

Andradite which is named after the Portuguese mineralogist D'Andrada is the most sparkly variety of the garnet family. It contains calcium and iron which give them the colours of red, brown, green, yellow and black. These stones are discovered in igneous rocks.

Varieties of andradite include:

Melanite (black)
Pyreneite (black) - used in mourning jewellery by Europeans of the 19th century
Aplome (dark brown)
Kolophonite garnet - dark honey-brown

Black melanite garnet is known to exhibit an excellent beautiful luster and high refractive index. Melanite is opaque with a glossy black colour, which is caused by the presence of titanium, earning it the trade name of 'titanian andradite'. It only comes in smaller sizes.

Black star garnet is also often found with near-black colour. However, black star garnet is usually a mix of garnet species, so the colour is usually more reddish-black rather than jet-black like melanite.

Kabbalists and occultists, both Jewish and Christians, have used garnets and engraved them with the names of angels in Greek, Hebrew and other ancient languages.

Garnet is a health talisman, called the Stone of Health. It detoxifies, restores and harmonizes your body, thus bringing inner peace.

Jet Gemstone

Jet was highly esteemed by the Romans. It was called GAGATES from the Greek GAGATES LITHOS, which is translated as the STONE OF GAGES, an ancient town and river in Lycia (in Asia Minor).

Jet is the brown coal variety known as LIGNITE (Latin for Wood). It forms from fossilized wood therefore it is organic and not a mineral. Instead it is known as a mineraloid.

Jet has a hardness of 2.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. So it is quite soft and breaks easily.

Jet can be cut, carved and polished to a bright luster. Its main colour is black. It is the material that inspired Shakespeare's "black as jet". However it also comes in dark brown colour and sometimes with a metallic luster. This metallic luster is due to pyrite inclusions.

Jet is also known as black amber because just like amber, it gives an electric charge when rubbed.

During the later Victorian Era, jet jewellery became popular after Queen Victoria wore jet that were mined in Whitby as part of her mourning dress after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Jet was chosen most likely for its black somber and modest appearance.

Jet's popularity as a gem declined after the Victorian period. Most likely it was due to its association with mourning.

Today the most common black gemstones are the onyx, obsidian, schorl or black tourmaline and melanite garnet which are affordable alternatives to black jet.

Jet was used since ancient times as a magical gem and in magical rituals. It was used as a talisman against curses, envy and black magic. It was used as a divination tool. Jet was burnt with a hot axe and the smoke was interpreted accordingly to prophesize future events. This form of future telling is called Axinomancy.

Jet was used to calm outburst of hysteria by inhaling its incense.

Jet is now rather hard to source, and many authentic jet jewels are highly sought after by gem collectors.

Black Obsidian

Another semi-precious stone used as a protection and shield is the obsidian. Obsidian has been used as a powerful stone for protection since our ancestors lived in caves.

Obsidian is a powerful volcanic glass that can also be used to cleanse the auras from the filthy muddy energy that clings on us. It is one of the most spiritual stones used by humanity. In ancient Mexico it was used as a mirror to contact the spirit world.

Obsidian has the power to rid your mental stress and anxiety. It can also absorb the negativity that clutters and confuses your mentality. Its powerful healing energy can help you repel the dark energy that you have been exposed to.

Black Cat's Eye Scapolite

Cat's eye scapolite is typically greenish, gray or brown (that looks almost black in body colour) but it is known to naturally occur in vibrant pink and violet. Bright honey-yellow is the most common colour for transparent scapolite, but it can also occur colourless, white, red and orange.

Cat's eye scapolite is of a sodium calcium aluminum silicate chemical formula. It occurs with a tetragonal, columna crystal structure. It is extremely rare and not very well-known. However, its price is very reasonable. Most all cat's eye scapolite tend to be translucent at best.

The most valued cat's eye scapolite is the one with well defined slit in the center of the pupil that stands out from the background. As you turn the gemstone, the cat's eye too should move smoothly across the surface of the gemstone.

Cat's eye scapolite is not treated or enhanced in any way.

Cat's eye scapolite has a hardness ranging from 5.5 to 6 on Mohs scale which is fairly soft. Thus, it is always cut en cabochon with round domed top and flat bottom in order to protect the corners or edges of the gemstone.

If you are to use a cat's eye scapolites ring, it is recommended to come with protective settings.

Cat's eye scapolite carries a very powerful energy. Scapolite is known as the stone for problem solving and cat's eye scapolite in particular is believed to help you solve past and present problems. It gives inspiration and promotes change and a purpose in life to the wearer.

Black Nephrite Jade

Most black jade available today is nephrite. Jade is a generic name for the green coloured stone that is synonymous with China. However, there are two very distinctly different minerals collectively known as Jade. They are nephrite and jadeite.

Nephrite comes from the Greek word for kidney which is NEFRÓ. In Latin, LAPIS NEPHRITICUS means Kidney Stone

Nephrite is a crystalline calcium magnesium silicate. In its pure state, it is white but may be green, cream, yellow, brown, gray, black or mottled because of the presence of impurities, chiefly iron compounds. The white nephrite is very rare.

Nephrite has a hardness of 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. Its transparency is translucent to opaque and it has a dull, resinous, waxy luster. Nephrite has no fluorescence, unlike Jadeite. By comparison, jadeite is more translucent and vitreous.

Jade had been mined and used as ornaments and ritual objects since the Stone Age. It was considered PRICELESS among the Chinese and Mesoamerican civilizations (the Olmecs, Toltecs, Mayans and Mexicas, also known as the Aztecs). A Chinese proverb states "Gold has a price; Jade is priceless".

Nephrite produces a clear crisp resonance when struck. Perhaps this is the reason why Chinese poets often extols its beauty and elegance. Nephrite jade has also been made into chimes and musical instruments.

Nephrite is esteemed as a magical stone with tremendous powers. It blesses anyone who touches it. It is named after the kidney because ancient people noticed that it could cleanse and cure any ailments and illness arising from the liver, spleen and kidneys.

In Asia today, nephrite jade is still being used as a talisman and amulet for protection against accidents and illnesses, for good health, long life and prosperity.

Black-seed Hetian jade is the greasy jade found in the Hotan region of China. It is highly sought after and is traded as Hetian jade.

Black Diamond

Black diamonds do not sparkle like white diamonds since black absorbs light. Black diamond by definition is not true diamond because it is still pure carbon. Thus, black diamond is also called Carbonado. It is very rare and thus most of the black diamonds on the market today have been treated to enhance their colour. Almost all of the black diamond available are sourced from Brazil, and Central Africa.

Tahitian Black Pearls

Almost all pearls available today are cultured. Nonetheless, the only naturally black pearls come from the body of a very specific type of oyster, the Tahitian black-lipped Pinctada margaritifera.

Pearl Hardness on the Mohs scale ranges from 2.5 – 4.5.