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It's surprising that you don't see black gemstones worn more than they are, considering our taste in clothes predominantly leans towards black. Black jewellery looks classy, bold, smart and distinctive. Added to that, the contrast when a black gemstone is set alongside diamonds or cubic zirconia's looks fabulous. Black gemstones also look distinctive set in oxidised silver, giving it a slightly vintage, edgy look. Black with either polished or oxidised silver is also a great choice for men. Most black gemstones are not "brilliant" - meaning they don't reflect the light - but are opaque. Some black gemstones, like black diamond, spinel, and zircon do reflect the light though and if cut with facets create a lovely effect. In this post we'll cover the main black gemstones now used in jewellery.
The Meaning of Black Gemstone
The metaphysical meaning of black gemstones are about mystery and depth - life and death, purification, cleansing. Each black gemstone has its own meaning but there are common themes of protection and grounding you.
Onyx is the most well-known black gemstone. It was considered very valuable in times past, but now is a commonly-used semi-precious stone. Perhaps the most used semi-precious black stone, onyx is relatively cheap, can be faceted or polished into cabochons and so suit a tremendous variety of settings and styles.
The rarest of all the diamonds, the colour comes from the impurities within the stone. Once these precious stones were worthless, yet now they are prized and sought after. Black diamonds only come from two areas in the world - Central Africa and Brazil. Black diamonds are a hard gemstone with a Mohs score of 10. The can be cut and faceted well and have a lovely brilliance so sparkle beautifully. Set with white diamonds they look stunning.
Pearls come in a variety of colours and black pearls range in colour from purple to grey to black. Black pearls are very rare. Pearls are very soft (only 2.5 on the Mohs scale) so you do need to treat them carefully. Pearls are one of the birthstones for June, so make a beautiful gift for a June birthday present.
A hard gemstone, spinel is a great choice in gemstones to use in jewellery. Black spinel also reflects the light well and so creates a nice sparkle.
Although quite rare, Black Zircon is highly reflective, can be cut and faceted well to create some lovely jewellery pieces.
Black Jet was popular during Victorian times and was used extensively in mourning jewellery. Jet is actually fossilised wood. Another soft stone, it is easily scratched and as black shows up any imperfections, this was not an ideal stone to use in jewellery. Like amber it is warm to the touch.
Jade, so loved in China, is thought of as being green but black jade is also available which normally contains flashes of green.
A relatively hard gemstone, opaque and can be cut and faceted well, so a great choice in jewellery.
Obsidian can be found quite often in jewellery, often with larger cabochons. With a high degree of brilliance, is is a popular choice. Formed by lava cooling very quickly, it is smooth and glass-like. But it is not that hard (only 5.5 on the Mohs scale) and so it therefore liable to scratch if not treated correctly.
Jasper can occur in many colours but all have some type of veining to them. This makes them quite unique and black jasper is no exception. Normally cut and polished as cabochons you will find many large pieces of black jasper in rings, bracelets or pendants.
Black Rutile Quartz
Rutilated quartz is a fascinating gemstone and appears to have shards of tiny black hairs within the quartz. These are rutile a mineral made of titanium oxide. Every gemstone is unique and quite fascinating to look at.
To Sum Up …
Black gemstones are distinctive and will match any outfit. They can be bold or elegant and contrast beautifully with clear, white stones or another contrasting coloured gemstone. They are a great addition to any jewellery box.