The History of Black Crystals
Black crystals are very popular crystals to use for crystal healing due to their protective properties. However, did you know that humans have used crystals since ancient times? Ancient civilisations used crystals for their energetic properties in much the same way as we do today.
Today we are focussing on four of the most popular black rocks, and how they have been used throughout history. We’ve included some tips on how you can tell the black crystals apart, which can be useful when they all look the same …
Crystal History: Jet
What is Jet?
Jet, also known as Black Amber, is not officially classified as a crystal. It is in fact a type of coal, which originally formed when driftwood was submerged in sea-floor mud. Jet is very lightweight and is opaque. When holding a raw piece of Jet, it can feel similar to both plastic and bark.
Where is Jet Found?
Typically, the best Jet is found in England, with Whitby in England being renown for its Jet, which dates from early Jurassic times. Jet is also found in Poland, Russia, Spain, the United States, France and Germany.
Jet has been used since the Stone Ages where it was worn as a talisman (a talisman was believed to have magical properties, bring good luck and protect from evil).
In Roman times, Whitby Jet was used by the Romans to decorate their jewellery. Additionally, in Britain, Jet was burned for protection by fishermen’s loved ones to ensure their return from sea.
Moving into more recent history, Jet was popular during the Victorian era after Queen Victoria wore Whitby Jet jewellery whilst mourning the passing of her husband, Prince Albert.
Crystal History: Black Obsidian
What is Black Obsidian?
Black Obsidian, named after the Roman Obsius, is actually molten lava (volcanic glass), which has cooled extremely quickly. It is a lightweight, translucent crystal and because Black Obsidian is a natural glass, it is also very shiny and smooth.
Where is Black Obsidian Found?
Obsidian can be found in Ecuador, Indonesia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United States and other volcanic areas.
Black Obsidian’s History
Many ancient civilisations used Obsidian to make arrowheads and blades as Obsidian could be shaped into extremely sharp weapons.
Obsidian was also polished to make some of the earliest mirrors known to exist.
Interestingly, on Easter Island, Obsidian was not only used for weapons, it was also used to decorate the eyes on their statutes.
Today, Obsidian is being trialled for use as blades in surgery as they are much sharper than standard steel scalpels.
Crystal History: Black Onyx
What is Black Onyx?
Black Onyx is a translucent crystal that looks very similar to Black Obsidian. It has a waxy feel to it and has less shine to it, almost a little dull in comparison to other tumbled black crystals. Although they have a similar name, Black Onyx is a different crystal to Onyx Marble and should not be confused. Black Onyx is often dyed black to achieve its colour.
Where is Black Onyx Found?
Black Onyx is primarily found in Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States.
Black Onyx’s History
The name Onyx is derived from the Greek word onux, which means fingernail or claw. There is a lovely myth that the Ancient Greeks and Romans believed - that the Goddess Venus had her nails cut by Cupid, and the nail cuttings were then turned into stone (Onyx) as nothing from her heavenly body should die.
Onyx has been used throughout history for jewellery and carving. In particular Onyx has been used to carve cameo brooches, as the bands in the Onyx provide contrasting shadows in the piece.
Crystal History: Black Tourmaline
What is Black Tourmaline?
Black Tourmaline, also known as Schorl, in its raw state is very easy to distinguish as it has rough creases and grooves. As a tumbled crystal however, it almost looks like all the other black crystals except for one difference, it will still have grooves visible as it doesn’t polish up perfectly smooth.
Where is Black Tourmaline Found?
Black Tourmaline can be found in numerous parts of the world however Brazil is renown for having amazing supplies of Tourmaline. Other countries that are noted for their Tourmaline are Nepal, for small double-terminated stones, Africa, Pakistan and the United States.
Black Tourmaline’s History
There is an Ancient Egyptian legend of how Tourmaline came to have so many colours. It is said that as Tourmaline travelled from the core of the Earth it encountered a rainbow, and as it passed it got hold of the rainbow’s beautiful colours.
One of the first known discoveries of Black Tourmaline was in the village of Schorl (now known as Zschorlau) in Germany. It was here that they discovered what they called Schorl in a tin mine.
Tourmaline is known for becoming electrically charged when heated or rubbed. It then attracts dust, ash and other small particles. ‘Aschentrekker’ is what the Dutch called Tourmaline in the 1700s, which translates to ‘ash remover’, they used ‘aschentrekker’ to pull ash out of their pipes.
It has also been recorded that ancient magicians used Schorl to protect them whilst casting spells.
Crystals and stones have fascinated us for as long as we can imagine. Delving into all the myths and beliefs held by our ancestors all those years ago seems to make them even more mystical and special.
Other blogs to read
If you'd like to find out more about crystals then have a look at some of our other blogs.