Q&A >> How to tell apart Black Hematite, Tourmaline and Obsidian

How to tell apart Black Hematite, Tourmaline and Obsidian


Is there a way to tell the difference between black hematite, black tourmaline and black obsidian. They all look the same to me. Thanks.

As an extension to my question on hematite, obsidian and tourmaline, do these three crystals carry similar energies, and is it safe to wear obsidian and tourmaline jewelry throughout the day/night? Thanks.



Dear Esme,

In fact, it is not that difficult to tell the difference. All three have different compositions, different surfaces, and different weights.

Hematite is the heaviest of the three, because it is an iron-based stone. So, if you have a hematite, tourmaline and obsidian stone of roughly the same size, hematite will be the heaviest. Moreover, when polished hematite has a characteristic metallic luster, unlike obisidian or tourmaline.

Obsidian is a natural volcanic glass. It is a compact amorphous mineral. It feels like glass when you touch it. When polished, it can have a high luster, but the shine is not metallic.

The easiest way to tell tourmaline apart from the other two stones, are its parallel striations that run along the long axis of the crystal. However, if the tourmaline is polished, then there will be no parallel lines and it will be more difficult to distinguish between tourmaline and obsidian. In that case you may try to compare the transparency, because in most cases obsidian will be more translucent than tourmaline. The surface of obsidian is also more reflective. In addition, Tourmaline is heavier than obsidian.

To summarize, in terms of weight we have Hematite > Tourmaline > Obisidian.

In terms of shine of polished stone, we have Hematite - metallic shine, Obsidian - vitreous, highly reflective, Tourmaline - vitreous to pearly.

Tumbled hematite:

Black obsidian:

Tumbled black tourmaline (shorl):

As for the energy of the stones, hematite is a strong grounding stone. If you can stand its strong energy you can wear it throughout the day, but many people find that rather overwhelming. Black tourmaline has powerful protective energy. It wards off negative energy. Being a member of the vast tourmaline family, it is also a stone of strong spiritual energy. Black obsidian is also a protective stone (as are all black stones in general). If you find its energy compatible to yours, you can use it for personal protection.

I hope this helps. Thanks for the interesting question and God bless.



Blue Flower says:

How can I tell Onyx from Obsidian apart?

sunnyray says:

Obsidian and onyx are both black stones. Obsidian is of volcanic origin and, unlike Onyx, it is an amorphous stone, and looks very much like glass. So, it looks glassy, weighs less than Onyx and can have bubbles within. Onyx can have black or white bands on its surface.

paula says:

This was very helpful to me. ~Thank you so much ~ very easy to read also ~ hakuna matata

Janice says:

Hi i was just wondering how you can tell if a black tourmaline is real or not. Thank you

sunnyray says:

If it is not tumbled, you can easily tell by the striations present on the surface of your black tourmaline.

Michael P Riley says:

I found a piece of obsidian/hematite ??? that dropped out of the icesheet about 18,000 years ago, From a cornfield near Grafton, WI. It was very heavy and responded to my strong magnet. So now I know it is hematite, because obsidian is nonmagnetic.

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