Discover How 10 Amazing Black Gemstones Are Used in Modern Jewelry
When thinking of black gemstones, people tend to think Obsidian or Cat’s Eye, but as we’ll show you, there are so many others. They vary in their level of rarity, price, and hardness, but all have a place in your jewelry collection.
Black gemstones were overlooked and undervalued up until recently. They are becoming more and more popular for their elegant luster, understated and dignified look, and their originality among the many bright pinks and emeralds and blinding blues out there.
As the trend in jewelry now is gemstones, jewelry connoisseurs are looking for colors that express themselves.
More and more pieces of black gemstone jewelry are now available.
Here’s a guide to 10 of the greats, showing that Black gemstones come in more variety that many folks may think.
Piece of black tourmaline - Image by Julia Bogdan via ShutterStock
These ultra-smooth and shiny stones are perfect for wearing to an art gallery opening or a corporate party.
Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone, a crystalline silicate compounded with lithium, iron, magnesium, and possibly elements such as potassium.
While it’s true that Tourmaline (the birthstone for October) comes in several colors, ranging from emerald to pink, 98% of all Tourmaline stones are black. That results in Black Tourmaline being one of the most commonly used and recognizable black precious stones.
Black tourmaline bracelet
To discuss some of the value of Black Tourmaline, there is folklore surrounding it that says placing it under your pillow keeps nightmares away. More broadly, it has long been associated with positivity.
The news gets even better! Because of the large supply of Black Tourmaline, it isn’t expensive at all. When you add to that its durability (7.5 on the Mohs scale), you can see why we love this elegant, sleek gem stone!
Black diamond - Image by Anatoly Maslennikov via ShutterStock
What isn’t to love about Black Diamond? To wear it is to make an incredibly beautiful statement. Black Diamond is all about the beauty in something once thought of as less valuable. It’s also all about how supposed imperfections can be lovely.
The black color in Black Diamonds actually comes, not from the stone, but from graphite that shows up in the stone—this is what’s considered an “impurity.” The graphite, which “gets in the way of” the gem stone as it should be, actually creates the beauty and value of black diamonds! How awesome is that?
Like many black gemstones, Black Diamonds were once considered tacky or low-grade, yet have made an incredible comeback recently. It’s common to see them on high-fashion runways!
Black Diamonds can be used in all sorts of jewelry, and are becoming increasingly popular as a way to make engagement rings unique. Part of this uniqueness comes from the interesting way that this stone reflects light, which makes up for the lack of a natural sparkle.
Black lip oyster shell with black pearl - Image by ChameleonsEye via ShutterStock
The main quality of black pearls is their rarity and preciousness.
They are so rare because they only occur in highly-specific situations. Imagine if you went into your yard and looked up into a tree and saw an apple that was a lovely pink. That is the general idea behind black pearls, because the ones that become black are among those that are different colors.
First off, pearls come from mollusks, which do include large sea creatures like octopi, but that also include shelled creatures like oysters and clams. Oysters create pearls as a way of fighting against intruders. They make them between their shell and a protective layer called a mantle.
Silver ring with black water pearl - Image by Artshock via ShutterStock
The tissue of certain oysters’ mantles creates Tahitian Pearls, which, unlike other black pearls, have the right combination of purple, dark blue, dark body tones and grey tones that they appear to be black. Tahitian Black Pearls are the only naturally-black pearls on the planet.
There’s another type of black pearls, called Akoya Black Pearls, which have been irradiated or dyed to look black. These, too, are rare and in short supply.
If there is a con to these lovely and rare treasures, it’s a low Mohs score, meaning they can get dinged up fairly easily. However, these pearls are to be handled with great care anyway, and to be worn only on big occasions. If you purchase one, be ready to maintain it in a big way.
Black Gemstones: Black Sapphire
Black sapphire silver ring - Image by artshock via ShutterStock
When a lot of people think of sapphire, they think of the color blue. But there is black sapphire. Black Sapphire is a very opaque stone, absorbing light. Like all kinds of sapphire, it is a variety of corundum, which is a crystal form of aluminum oxide.
In general, Black Sapphire, mostly mined in Australia (like black opal), isn’t very expensive or highly sought after. However, you might be interested to know that it represents intuition, meaning that wearers may have more of a chance than other people of finding truth or correct decisions.
Keep in mind that there is a variety of Black Sapphire called Black star sapphire. Black star sapphires contain threads of the mineral hematite. These threads create a particular type of sparkle that looks like a 6-rayed star.
Black Gems: Black Spinel
Black spinel necklace - Image by Kwanbenz via ShutterStock
As a rarely seen gem, black spinel is widely mistaken for black diamonds because of its opaque, jet-black appearance, making black spinel even more difficult to locate on the market.
Black spinel is characterized by its distinctive coloration of black, which ranges from deep black to a black that resembles the night sky. In addition, the black spinel is completely black, with no secondary tones.
Since black spinel rough contains inclusions and cracks, jewelry makers have difficulty cutting and setting it. When it is faceted, however, black spinel can also be found in many shapes, including octagons, round, baguettes, oval, pear, and marquees.
Vintage black onyx ring - Image by Tarzhanova via ShutterStock
This is a black gem stone that has been used longer than most others. It’s a combination of silica, morganite, and quartz. We often see it used for beaded jewelry, necklaces, and nose pins, among other wearables.
Black Onyx, the birth stone of the sign Leo (July 23-Aug 22), is treated by soaking it in boiling quartz and then mixed with a sugar solution. Then the stones get treated with sulfuric acid to carbonize the sugar.
Black Onyx is very lustrous and shiny, and rates 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale. It is a symbol of bravery, and is believed to remove obstacles in the way of the wearer. It also builds physical stamina. Further, Black Onyx is known to heal the chakras.
Legend has it that “onyx” comes from the Latin word “onux,” meaning one’s fingernail. The story goes that Cupid happened along Venus, who was sleeping; Cupid cut the fingernail of Venus and let it fall into the river nearby. Apparently, all of Venus’s fingernails followed, and they formed onyx stone.
Obsidian’s unique niche is that it’s a natural glass. In fact, it’s a volcanic glass, because it forms from cooling lava. When this happens, it hardens, and the result is this great black gem stone.
People have been using obsidian for thousands of years. It is known to have been used for spear points and arrowheads. In terms of appearance, it is very smooth and very shiny.
Because Obsidian comes from lava, it contains a blast of energy. Shamans have been using Black Obsidian for centuries to connect to the spiritual world. Today is known to contain healing energy. You may know someone who owns a Black Obsidian healing crystal necklace.
Black Obsidian rings are also common. Yet aside from some of these day-to-day uses, Obsidian, because of its incredibly luster, can be used in statement pieces for big occasions.
Black Gemstones: Black Jet
Black jet earrings - Image by Myjewelrystory
You may be surprised to know that Black Jet is a type of lignite, meaning it’s a type of coal. Who would have thought? While Black Jet was used by ancient Romans for rings and other jewelry, a lot of its notoriety comes from Jolly Old England. Black jet is an organic gemstone, like black amber or black coral.
In Victorian England, Black Jet was known for use in mourning: Queen Victoria wore it after Prince Albert’s death. Though the occasion was somber, Black Jet’s use by royalty boosted its popularity, which just kept skyrocketing.
In modern times, Black Jet is considered more festive. Obviously, the color black isn’t associated with mourning or with sadness (or the Goth mindset) more than it is for elegance and for that general coolness. Black Jet is often used to accent other pieces, and is perfect for both men and women. It gets more depth when faceted.
The reason Black Jet is so good to integrate into a variety of jewelry is its light weight. That means it is a bit fragile. Its Mohs hardness spans from only 2.5 – 4. You have to be gentle with this awesome gemstone. The best way to clean it is with a soft cloth and soap and water—no steam.
According to lore, wearers of Black Jet can expect to be grounded and to chase away negative thought patterns.
Black garnet ring yellow gold - Image by Kozhukhova via ShutterStock
This is a calcium iron silicate mineral. Keep in mind that Black Garnet is just one variety of Garnet, which comes in pink, purple, red, and a whole host of colors. Also, you may see Black Garnet called Melanite Garnet.
Usually Black Garnet is lustrous and shiny. Its hardness is high, and it has no cleavage. It is used most often in bracelets, pendants, and rings. Some jewelry connoisseurs turn to Black Garnet as an alternative to more expensive black gemstones like Jet or Onyx.
For those looking for mystical qualities, Black Garnet connects with the Base or Root Chakra. It is said to help people get past feelings of victimization, and to be more passionate about life.
Black Gemstones: Black Jade
Natural Burmese black jade bracelet
Black Jade is a metamorphic rock, produced by intense heat and pressure. It comes in two main forms, nephrite and jadeite—nephrite is more common. Black Jade is kind of interesting because it manages to be both soft and durable. Its softness allows for easy carving, but because its composition is so compact, it can take a licking, especially for a stone with a Mohs ranking of 6.
A lot of people turn to Black Jade because of its mystical designs—it certainly can add an aura of mysteriousness to a person, and if you like to have your own unique look, it can be for you.
It is said to give protection and safety, which really goes with some of the somewhat fearsome shapes it’s carved into. It connects to the Sacral and Root Chakras.
Earrings with black zircon - Image by Republica Moda
What better way to bring this big list to a close than with a wonderful alternatives to diamonds. Black Zircon gets its hue from being infused with iron oxide while it is crystallized.
People love Black Zircon for its brilliant shine, as well as for its relative affordability. Interestingly, the gemstone manages to be both hard to find and easy on the debit card. One thing to keep in mind about this gemstone is that it is brittle. That makes it a bit on the breakable side. It comes in at 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale.
People usually admire the nearly transparent quality of many Zircon gemstones. However, it can also be nearly opaque.
All in all, it’s a no-brainer to add (more) black gemstones to your jewelry collection. In some ways it’s amazing that there would ever have been any question. The fad had always been for dazzling colors that would add color and flair to an ensemble.
Black gemstones for an elegant, cosmopolitan, chic and self assured style!
Yet, black is elegant, and it can have amazing luster. It is both eye-catching and understated. It’s infinitely easy to pair with outfits for all sorts of occasions.
Many black gemstones we’ve profiled have good hardness scores and are durable. Some are fragile and shouldn’t be worn too often. That can allow the black gemstones you wear to be special, a wonderful addition to a diverse collection.
Being able to really pull off a black gemstone means being cosmopolitan, chic, and sure of yourself. Yet, it also adds a cool self-assured look to women wanting to look a bit more rustic and less traditionally feminine. And that leads to one last point, that many black gemstones can be unisex.
Maybe the biggest theme of wearing black gemstones is defiance. Wearing some of these decadent and devastatingly-lovely stones makes one modern, nearly ahead of one’s time, and not tied to tradition or to people’s opinions.