Tourmaline vs Obsidian: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

A common mistake among crystal and mineral enthusiasts is confusing one crystal for another.

Some of those crystals that are easy to confuse are Tourmaline and Obsidian.

This article will help you understand the difference between the two, their similarities, and identifying characteristics that will help you tell them apart.

Tourmaline vs Obsidian: The Basics

What Is Tourmaline?

Tourmaline gemstone is a crystal that occurs in a wide variety of colors.

The gemstone colors range from black, yellow, blue, yellow, pink, or a mixture of these colors.

The black tourmaline is one of the most heralded gemstones of this range.

They occur as long and slender prismatic crystals that have a triangular cross-sections.

The crystal is distinguishable by its three-sided prisms which are unique to them.

The tourmaline mines in southern California have for a long time been the main source of tourmaline in America.

The crystal can also be sourced from Brazil, China, and Tanzania.

The different colors of the tourmaline are sought after for their distinct uses.

The black tourmaline is believed to offer the wearer protection from negativity as well as enhancing your physical wellbeing.

The brown tourmaline is believed to clear and protect the wearer’s aura.

In general, all the different colors are used in Feng Shui as they are believed to offer both protection to the home and inviting the right energy to the home.

The crystal can also be placed in a bowl of water in the house where it is believed to cleanse the living space.

Due to its many uses, tourmaline can be furnished into different ornaments.

The crystal is used in making bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.

It is also used to make decorative ornaments that are used in houses including as parts of chandeliers.

What Is Obsidian?

Obsidian is a volcanic glass that is produced from the rapid cooling volcanic lava.

Due to the nature of its formation, obsidian crystals tend to be hard, glassy, and brittle.

The purest obsidian tends to be dark.

However, the presence of impurities in it can cause it to have a different color.

This can range from dark brown if the mineral contains iron to black if the mineral contains iron oxide.

Where is Obsidian mined?

Obsidian mines are located all over the world where underground volcanic eruptions occur.

Obsidian can therefore be sourced from mines in Argentina, Italy, Iceland, and Canada.

However, most of the obsidian in America is sourced from Nevada in California.

Due to its brittle and sharp edges, obsidian has over the years been used as a cutting tool.

Benefits of Obsidian

Obsidian is believed to have powerful metaphysical energies.

These include the belief that it clears the smog that is created within your aura as well as shielding you from negativity.

Due to these beliefs, obsidian is used as a protective stone from negative energies.

It can be worn as part of an ornament as well as used as a decorative ornament within the house.

These characteristics also make it a sought after stone when one is trying to achieve Feng Shui in their house.

The cost of obsidian differs, depending on how unique the piece is.

Tourmaline and Obsidian: How are the Two Stones Different?


Due to its brittle nature, it is usually difficult to work with obsidian to create ornaments.

This means that most obsidian ornaments undergo very minimal alteration to the crystal itself.

On the other hand, tourmaline is easy to work with and can therefore be used to furnish more intricate ornaments that require working on the crystal.

The glassy nature of obsidian also makes it difficult to handle as it can easily cut you when working with it.


Tourmaline occurs in many colors, ranging from black, blue, and pink while pure obsidian only occurs in the color black.


The other difference is the uses for the two crystals.

Obsidian is believed to hold the power for grounding and healing while tourmaline is believed to change negative energies.

This means that obsidian is used by those seeking to work on how grounded they are, while tourmaline is used by those seeking to repel and change negative energies around them.

Due to its use as a healing stone, obsidian is believed to absorb the negative energies and store them within itself.

It is therefore important to have it cleaned after several uses to ensure that it regains its healing powers.

This can be done by washing it under flowing water or cleansing it with smoke.

Tourmaline on the other hand is believed to repel negative energies and therefore does not need to be cleansed.

Similarities Between Tourmaline and Obsidian


Due to their colors, the two are used in many ornaments.

This range from wearable ornaments such as earrings, watches, and bracelets to decorative ornaments such as being used in photo frames, and chandeliers.

This also makes them very good items to gift family and friends.

Source and availability

The two are also mined in many countries, meaning that they are easy to find on sale across the world.

This also contributes to them being affordable and available to most people.

The two are also considered to be near to the same value by gemstone experts due to their abundance.

Both obsidian and tourmaline when polished and cut for display tend to be shiny, smooth, and dark. This makes it very easy to confuse the two.

Use in Feng Shui

The two crystals are used in Feng shui as they are believed to offer best energies to the house while repelling any negative energies.

They are therefore both used across multiple rooms in houses, starting at the main entrance of the house to the inner rooms such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

Why are Tourmaline And Obsidian Often Confused?

The near similar metaphysical uses and some variances such as the black obsidian and black tourmaline looking very similar make the two easy to confuse.

The abundance and affordability also make it easy to confuse one for the other.

It is therefore important to engage a mineral and gemstone expert when you are looking to make a purchase.

Many imitations and fakes also exist and using an expert will make sure that you are buying an original gem that will serve your needs.


The similarities and differences shared above are important in distinguishing between the two.

They can also help you in deciding which of the two you should pick.

In the end, the best person to decide which of the two to pick should be you.

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