Is black obsidian rare?

Black obsidian is one of the rarest types of obsidian, according to the Smithsonian. It is named for the dark black color it has when it first breaks from a volcanic vent. There are a few different causes for this color, including oxidization and groundwater that washes over black lava flows into cracks in the rocks below.

The rareness depends on geography; specifically, the number of exposed lava flows and heat produced by the volcano. Black obsidian is found in Turkey, Venezuela, Guatemala and the eastern United States.

Is black obsidian rare

How is black obsidian obtained?

In some cases, black obsidian is simply mined from the ground. In others, it is quarried. Quarries often use slaves and people with medical problems to mine the stone. These men are allowed to perform the mining even after they have been disabled by their conditions; one in-person account describes a man who had not been able to move his hands for years.

A black obsidian quarry in Turkey. The stone is mined by chain-gang workers who are disabled or under a doctor’s care. (Image credit: Flickr user Luis Tamayo, U.S. National Park Service)

At the quarries, workers use picks to break away at large pieces of rock and hammers to dig into stone and obtain the obsidian core within the rocks. These cores are then crushed into smaller pieces and sorted by size.

This rock is used for both decorative and industrial purposes. The Spanish mined black obsidian in Guatemala for the production of canons. In the United States, Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico is a major source of black obsidian jewellery.

Is black obsidian expensive then?

Black obsidian is rarer and more valuable than brown obsidian, which is the most common form of stone. A collector may pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for large pieces of black obsidian.

The black color comes from impurities of iron oxide in the volcanic glass. The most valuable black obsidian stones have a high iron oxide content. Black obsidian is generally not as clear as other types of glass and is considered more difficult to work with, as it must be worked at a higher temperature than other forms of glass.

What are some notable pieces of black obsidian?

Some are sold at auction and can fetch thousands of dollars. In 2012, Bonhams held an auction in London where they sold a black obsidian artifact without a handle that was carved into the likeness of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. It was estimated to be worth more than $20,000.

In 2013, Sotheby’s in London sold a black obsidian necklace that was believed to be between 4,000 and 6,000 years old. It sold for over $2 million. It was one of the most expensive items they have ever sold at auction.

A black obsidian bracelet that had been worn by Winston Churchill’s wife when she swam in the Mediterranean Sea went on sale at Christie’s International in New York City just last year. It sold for over $230,000.

A black obsidian ring with an ancient Egyptian inscription that the Nelson Mandela Foundation bought at auction for more than $1 million in 2015.

Where can I get black obsidian?

You can purchase black obsidian online, typically from China imports or other manufacturers who are buying the rock from a government in Central America, who then sells it to the importer. It is also available through many craft stores and jewellery shops. Some craft shops have established networks with select suppliers, allowing them to purchase raw obsidian from the Central American government.

Black obsidian jewellery is made in Turkey and Venezuela, but you can buy black in any country if you are careful when looking for authentic pieces. When purchasing black obsidian crystal jewellery, look to see if the piece has a dark-colored band sitting at the bottom of a clear band. If it does not, it is not an authentic piece of black obsidian.

How can I tell that a piece of jewelry is real black obsidian?

Wikipedia says that a piece of genuine black obsidian will have high levels of alkaline earth metals, including barium. Black obsidian jewellery is typically not made with barium, though it can be mixed into the glass as other elements are added to the mix, such as copper and titanium. A good test for obsidian jewellery is to soak it in water with vinegar and salt mixed together. If it fizzes, you can be confident that the glass is black obsidian.

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