How to tell the Difference between Black Onyx, Jet, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline & Black Obsidian

May 09, 2024
How to tell the Difference between Black Onyx, Jet, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline & Black Obsidian

How to Tell the Difference Between Black Onyx, Jet, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline & Black Obsidian?

There are many types of crystal in the world. But people love black crystals. Even in this color, there are various options. Black onyx, Apache tear, black tourmaline, and lastly the black obsidian are a few examples of these.

Due to the similar appearance of these stones, people often confuse them and can’t tell the difference. Are you having the same problem?

We have got you covered.In this blog, we shall be discussing every major black gemstone and how they are different from each other with help of their formation, basic definition, and uses. Therefore, with this being said, let’s get right into it:

Difference Between Black Onyx, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline, And Black Obsidian

Black Onyx

Black onyx is one of the most popular black gemstones. It’s very beautiful and aesthetically appealing which is why it’s so popular and also used in jewelry making. The appearance of Black Onyx is quite aesthetic looking. It is smooth in look with a glossy finish.

However, there’s a variation, sometimes the black onyx can have white bands or even layers. Though this is the case when it’s left untreated. However, pure black onyx is highly sought after for its deep, uniform color.


It is a type of chalcedony. This is made up of quartz. That's why we can say black onyx is formed of silica deposition in lava’s gas cavities. This results in the band layers we see in the crystal.


So, what is black onyx used for? The answer is simple, its primary use is in jewelry. This is mainly because of its beautiful appearance and hardness. That makes it quite durable. The crystal is often also associated with metaphysics like strength, stamina, and protection.


The second one on the list, Jet. If you are into gemstones you must have heard of, jet.

You see, this is not a mineral, rather this is a type of lignite. For those who don’t know what it is, a raw form of coal, something that comes before it.

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Jet is then polished into a warm and matte finish. Once finished this feels warm to touch. Unlike stones, which are cold, jet tends to feel slightly warm, which is a key identifier.


Jet gemstone is surprisingly formed when decaying wood is put under great pressure for millions of years. This is how organic crystals are made. Due to the same, it’s very soft and can be carved easily.


Here’s what jet is used for: In the Victorian era, jet was commonly used in mourning jewelry. The reason is simple, it’s said to have protective qualities. Plus, it can absorb negative energy.

Apache Tear

It’s time to talk about an amazingly named, Apache Tear gemstones. For those who are new to the world of gemstones, these are a type of Black Obsidian.

However, this is where the difference lies. They are smoother, more rounded shapes, and translucent when held up to the light. To be specific, Apache Tears are volcanic glass but generally found in a form that looks like a small, rounded pebble.


Apache tears is yet another gemstone, originating from volcanic lava. Once the lava cools in a short time without getting time to crystallize, it becomes natural glass which we call apache tears. That’s how it is formed


What are apache tears used for? In shamanic tradition and spiritual communities, it is often used for healing. They help its users with grief and give you insight into emotional and mental issues. 

Black Tourmaline

Finally, it’s time to talk about this part of the family, black tourmaline. This gemstone is often also known, Schorl. What makes it stand out is its features. These are long and striated crystals.

Someone who says, they look almost metallic and gunmetal-ish in their hue. In the gemstones we have discussed so far on the list, this is one of the most unique for many reasons. One being that it is a distinct, columnar crystalline structure.


This mineral is typically formed in metamorphic rocks and is a boron silicate mineral. It can form large, well-shaped crystals that are quite striking.


This gemstone is highly valued in the metaphysical world. And it is also believed to be one of the most powerful protective crystals in the world. The stone helps you repel negative energy and protect your positive one. That’s why it’s used in purification rituals.

Black Obsidian

Last one on our list is, Black Obsidian. This is one of the most popular gemstones in the world. When it comes to appearance, it is typically jet-black. However, it can sometimes include small inclusions that give it a snowflake-like pattern.

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This stone is shiny and glassy, with sharp edges that were historically used for cutting and piercing tools. How cool is that? Well, it’s time to see how it comes into being and what are its uses.


Formation of black obsidian is very similar to Apache Tears. This is also a crystal that comes from a volcano. In layman’s terms you can call it volcanic glass with super sharp  edges.


So, what is black obsidian used for? This is quite a popular gemstone that is not only used in jewelry but also for healing. Using this stone, you can clear mental fog and also deal with confusion. 


Each of these black gemstones has a charm and a set of properties that make them unique. Here, we discussed a number of black gemstones and crystals that people often confuse between and clear the misconceptions. For that reason, we discussed their origins as well as uses.

FAQs on How to tell the Difference between Black Onyx, Jet, Apache Tear, Black Tourmaline & Black Obsidian

Q1. How can I identify Jet from other black gemstones?

Ans1. Jet is unique because it is not a mineral but an organic product made from decaying wood under pressure. It feels surprisingly warm to the touch, unlike the cold feel of stones, and has a matte, waxy finish.

Q2. What makes Apache Tears different from typical Black Obsidian?

Ans2. This is a type of black obsidian that forms when lava is cooled down in a short period of time. However, it’s very smooth, rounded in shape, and also has translucent properties. In appearance, it looks like small stones. 

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