Snowflake Obsidian: The Gemstone with a Winter’s Tale

Snowflake Obsidian stands out as a gemstone with unique patterns that look like snowflakes against a dark background. This beautiful stone forms from cooling volcanic lava, blending elements of fire and ice. It attracts not only geologists but also those who love its distinct look and symbolic value.

Let’s explore the world of Snowflake Obsidian, discussing how it forms, what it symbolizes, and how people use it.

What is Snowflake Obsidian?

Snowflake Obsidian is a unique type of volcanic glass named for its appearance. The name “Obsidian” comes from Obsius, a Roman who found a similar stone in Ethiopia. This glass forms when lava rich in silica from volcanoes cools quickly without much crystal growth.

The “snowflake” part of its name is due to white cristobalite inclusions in the stone, creating snowflake-like patterns on the dark obsidian. These patterns form when the lava cools rapidly and partially crystallizes.

Snowflake Obsidian is mainly silicon dioxide and forms in volcanic areas. Major sources include volcanic regions in the western United States, Mexico, Iceland, and Italy. The silica in the volcanic eruptions in these areas contributes to the formation of Snowflake Obsidian.

Each source produces Snowflake Obsidian with unique features, shaped by the local volcanic conditions. Its striking looks, fascinating formation, and historical background make Snowflake Obsidian both beautiful and significant.

A Gemstone with a Winter’s Tale

snowflake obsidian pendant
Quartz is responsible for the snowflakes on the obsidian as seen in this pendant.

Snowflake Obsidian is known as the gemstone with a winter’s tale due to its look and how it forms, resembling the winter season. As mentioned earlier, this stone is volcanic glass that forms when lava cools down quickly, similar to how snowflakes form from water vapor in cold air. Its appearance adds to its winter story.

Snowflake Obsidian has a dark, black base, like winter’s long nights. White or grayish spots that look like snowflakes scatter across this dark background. These snowflake patterns come from cristobalite, a mineral that crystallizes within the obsidian.

Each piece of Snowflake Obsidian is unique, just like every snowflake in a winter storm. The stone captures winter’s essence with its snowflake-like patterns and the contrast it shows between dark nights and the beauty of snowflakes, making it a special and meaningful gemstone.

How to Choose Snowflake Obsidian

The main questions when choosing snowflake obsidian are whether you want bigger or smaller flakes, as well as whether you want more or fewer of them. The choice here is mostly subjective and cosmetic. More quartz snowflakes mean less obsidian, so the surface of the piece will be less smooth and less reflective, but those too are purely subjective considerations.

Snowflake Obsidian Color and Clarity

Snowflake obsidian has a black body tone with gray or white spots scattered across the surface. The black base color of obsidian is caused by the presence of iron and magnesium in it.

Snowflake Obsidian Heart Pendant
Snowflake obsidian is less lustrous than black obsidian. See these here.

Clarity is generally not obsidian’s strong suit and that goes double for snowflake obsidian. Since obsidian is essentially a volcanic glass, it should have a vitreous luster. Because of the quartz snowflakes, however, this type of obsidian will have even less reflective properties. However, when well-polished, snowflake obsidian has a beautiful luster and its natural patterns give it an intriguing quality, unlike most other gemstones.

Snowflake Obsidian Cut

This type of obsidian is cut in a rather similar manner to other obsidian variants. It has a hard and brittle nature and can be cut and carved with any good diamond drill. Obsidian is typically cut in oval or spherical shapes and is typically cut en cabochon. However, snowflake obsidian is also often faceted, although large, open facets are more common as opposed to small brilliant facets.

Snowflake Obsidian Crystal Earrings
Smooth cuts bring out snowflake obsidian’s natural patterns. See these here.

Because of the quartz, however, snowflake obsidian is somewhat harder to cut than black obsidian. These quartz inclusions are more easily breakable than the rest of the obsidian and they are not as smooth.

With that in mind, a lot of gemstone cutters will try to cut around the inclusions both to preserve the smooth surface of the stone as well as to accomplish an even more beautiful effect with it. That can make the cut more challenging but also more effective and beautiful when it works out.

Snowflake Obsidian Carat Sizes

Like other obsidian gemstones, snowflake obsidian can come in various sizes and carat weights. You can easily find snowflake obsidian pieces that are as large as 8 or 10 inches in diameter, as well as ones that weigh up to 100 carats or more.

For example, here are a couple of large snowflake obsidian pieces that weigh 72 carats and have dimensions of approximately 35” x 26” x 6”. As you can see, the typical snowflake obsidian price isn’t that high, although extraordinarily large stones can be significantly pricier.

Snowflake Obsidian in Jewelry

Snowflake Obsidian, known for its striking black base with white or grayish snowflake-like patterns, is a popular choice in various types of jewelry due to its unique appearance and the contrast it offers. Here’s how it’s commonly used:

1. Beaded Jewelry

Snowflake Obsidian beads are a popular choice for necklaces and bracelets. These beads vary in size, from small for delicate jewelry to large for bold statements. Polished Snowflake Obsidian beads show off their unique patterns against a dark background.

Designers often combine these beads with other gemstones, creating jewelry that matches many outfits and adds natural elegance.

2. Cabochons

Snowflake Obsidian is commonly shaped into smooth, rounded cabochons. These polished domes highlight the stone’s snowflake patterns, making them perfect for rings, pendants, and earrings. The dome shape brings out the depth and light play on the stone, making each piece unique.

3. Pendants and Necklaces

Snowflake Obsidian is striking as the main stone in pendants and necklaces. It can be set simply to showcase its natural beauty or paired with other gemstones and metals in more elaborate designs. Snowflake Obsidian pendants range from minimalist to intricate, standing out for their beauty and symbolism.

4. Earrings

Snowflake Obsidian earrings come in various styles, from small studs for daily wear to larger dangle earrings. The stone’s dark base with white patterns pairs well with different metals, offering versatility and elegance for various occasions.

5. Rings

Rings with Snowflake Obsidian are unique and charming. The stone can be a simple centerpiece or part of a complex design with other stones or metalwork. These rings suit many tastes, adding a special touch to both casual and formal outfits.

6. Bracelets

Snowflake Obsidian bracelets offer various styles. Some have the stone strung with others in elegant beaded designs, while others use it as an accent in link or charm bracelets. Snowflake Obsidian can be a main feature or a complementary addition, making these bracelets versatile for different fashion styles.

History of Snowflake Obsidian

Snowflake Obsidian, a unique volcanic glass, has an intriguing history dating back to prehistoric times. This stone formed from ancient volcanic eruptions, created when silica-rich lava cooled rapidly, preventing crystals from growing and resulting in a glassy texture. Its distinct “snowflake” patterns come from cristobalite mineral inclusions that crystallize within the obsidian, contrasting against its dark base.

Historically, Snowflake Obsidian was more than just an attractive stone. Ancient cultures, especially in Mesoamerica, highly valued it. They used it not just for decoration but also to make sharp tools and weapons like arrowheads and spear points due to its ability to fracture into sharp edges.

In spiritual and healing traditions, people have considered Snowflake Obsidian a stone of purity, believed to bring balance and grounding. Its soothing properties have made it popular in various healing and spiritual practices over time.

As civilizations progressed and metal use became more common, the practical need for obsidian decreased. However, its aesthetic and metaphysical qualities have kept it popular in jewelry and art.

Today, people treasure Snowflake Obsidian for its beauty and connection to both the natural world and ancient history. It remains a stone with a rich, fascinating history due to its unique formation and cultural significance.

What Metals Pair Well with Snowflake Obsidian?

Snowflake Obsidian, known for its dark base and white patterns, matches well with various metals. Silver is a favorite choice. Its cool shine complements the stone’s black and white colors, creating an elegant contrast that highlights the stone’s unique patterns.

Gold, in both yellow and white shades, offers a warmer look. Yellow gold gives Snowflake Obsidian a rich, classic feel, while white gold keeps it modern and stylish. Stainless steel or titanium are great for a contemporary and industrial style. They’re strong and their light shine enhances the stone’s patterns without overwhelming them.

Bronze and copper also work well, offering warm, earthy tones that create a rustic, vintage appearance. Each metal highlights a different quality of Snowflake Obsidian, making it versatile for various jewelry styles.

Cleaning and Caring for Snowflake Obsidian Jewelry

To care for Snowflake Obsidian, clean it gently. Use lukewarm water mixed with a bit of mild soap. With a soft cloth or a soft-bristled brush, lightly scrub the stone to remove dirt. Avoid harsh chemicals or rough materials that could scratch it. After cleaning, rinse it well with clean water and dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Handle Snowflake Obsidian carefully to avoid chips or cracks. Store it separately from other jewelry to prevent scratches, preferably in a fabric-lined box or a soft pouch. Don’t expose it to extreme temperatures or harsh chemicals, like perfumes and household cleaners, as these can damage the stone.

Is There Imitation Snowflake Obsidian?

Imitation Snowflake Obsidian is available in the market. These fakes are often made from glass or other stones and treated to look like real Snowflake Obsidian, with its typical dark color and white or grayish patterns.

However, these imitations don’t have the same unique features and variations as natural Snowflake Obsidian. It’s important for collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate the stone’s real properties and believed healing effects to buy from trustworthy sellers who can prove the stone’s authenticity.

To tell real Snowflake Obsidian apart from fakes, check for irregular patterns and a glassy texture, as the natural stone is not uniform and feels like volcanic glass.

Is Snowflake Obsidian Treated or Enhanced?

Snowflake Obsidian, in its natural form, is typically not treated or enhanced. This is because the stone’s unique beauty, characterized by its dark, glassy base and intricate snowflake-like patterns, naturally occurs without the need for artificial treatments.

The patterns in Snowflake Obsidian are the result of inclusions of cristobalite, a mineral that crystallizes within the volcanic glass, and these are formed naturally as the lava cools. The stone’s natural formation process ensures that each piece has a distinctive appearance.

However, like many other gemstones, Snowflake Obsidian can be cut, shaped, and polished to enhance its natural beauty for use in jewelry or decorative items. But in terms of chemical treatments or color enhancements, Snowflake Obsidian is generally left in its natural state, as its unique and appealing aesthetic is already present in the raw stone.

Meaning and Symbolism of Snowflake Obsidian

Like other types of obsidian, snowflake obsidian is believed to have very powerful “soul-cleansing” properties.

Snowflake obsidian is viewed as a very mystical and precious gemstone in the spiritual world. Like other obsidian types, it’s believed to grant protection against negative thoughts and emotions. It’s also believed to suck negativity out of the user and into itself. That’s why it’s viewed as the perfect gemstone for introverts and people who tend to keep their emotions bottled up.

Snowflake obsidian is also viewed as a symbol of purity. It’s meant to easily clear your body and keep your spirit, mind, and heart clean, calm, and reassured.

Where to Buy Snowflake Obsidian

Snowflake obsidian is not a mainstream gemstone and finding jewelry with this gemstone at your local store may prove difficult. Thanks to the internet, you’ll be able to find many options and competitive prices at your fingertips. Two of the most popular platforms include:

  • Etsy has a huge assortment of vendors that offer a wide variety of snowflake obsidian jewelry. Their obsidian jewelry ranges from a few dollars to pieces that cost hundreds of dollars and come in a variety of styles.
  • Amazon – As it is one of the biggest online retailers worldwide, it’s not surprising that you can find all kinds of snowflake obsidian jewelry and artifacts on Amazon. There’s something for everyone here.

Wrapping Up

Snowflake Obsidian is much more than a simple stone; it represents a part of Earth’s fiery past, turning into a symbol of beauty and purity. Its unique snowflake patterns are not just visually striking but also tell a tale of nature’s wonder.

Valued for both its beauty and its reputed healing qualities, Snowflake Obsidian continues to be a timeless and fascinating gemstone, loved by many in different forms.

Nadi Alahakoon

Nadisha has been a fashion aficionado for as long as she can remember! From following the latest trends to checking out vintage styles, she’s always curious about what’s in and what’s out! She has a background in Nursing, literature, and English. When she’s not writing about jewelry and diamonds, Nadisha spends her time window shopping, dancing, or traveling the beautiful landscapes of Canada.

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