The Different Obsidian Colors And What They Each Look Like

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The Different Obsidian Colors And What They Each Look Like

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Obsidian is a glass that comes from volcanic lava. When lava cools down super fast, it doesn’t have time to form crystals and becomes this smooth, shiny rock instead. What’s amazing about obsidian is its variety of colors.

You might be wondering, “What color is obsidian?” Well, it’s not just one color! This rock is a rainbow of options, each one with its own amazing story. You might even be surprised at how vast the obsidian color palette is.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the wonders of obsidian colors and understand how its beauty has captivated people from all over the world.

By the end of this, you’ll see that obsidian isn’t just another stone; it’s a spectacle of nature’s beauty, showing off what happens when our planet gets creative. Let’s begin!

The Most Common Obsidian Color

Pieces of raw, shiny, black obsidian
Raw black obsidian photo provided by Rock Goddess Crystals

Imagine holding a piece of the night sky, shimmering with a mysterious glow. That’s black obsidian for you!

It’s the most common color of obsidian that you’ll find, and it looks like a dark, glassy rock that could have been a piece of the moon.

Black obsidian is so shiny and smooth— you might see your reflection in it. It’s like looking into a deep, dark pool of water, but instead of water, it’s solid rock!

This rock forms when a volcano erupts. The lava it spews cools down really quickly, it doesn’t have time to form crystals. Instead, it turns into obsidian. Because of its glossy surface, it’s often called volcanic glass.

Black obsidian isn’t just pretty to look at; it’s pretty valuable, too. People have used it for thousands of years to make sharp tools and weapons because it can break into pieces with really sharp edges.

Today, obsidian’s value is still evident but for different reasons. Some believe it has protective powers and use it as a gemstone in jewelry.

Others collect it because of its beauty and the way it reminds us of the powerful forces of volcanoes.

The Different Colors of Obsidian

Onto the exciting part: the different colors of obsidian aside from the well-known shiny black. By knowing about these colors, you’re also one step ahead in being able to tell if an obsidian is real, no matter what color it comes in.

White Obsidian (Snowflake Obsidian)

A snowflake obsidian showing dominant white patterns over black surface
Snowflake obsidian photo provided by Rock & Gem Magazine

White obsidian (snowflake obsidian) has a dark, glassy background but what makes it distinct are the patterns on it. They look like tiny, delicate snowflakes scattered across the surface, creating a stunning contrast.

Now, you might wonder how this rock gets its unique snowflake pattern. It starts with regular obsidian, which forms when lava from a volcano cools down really quickly. But in white obsidian, something extra happens.

As it cools, parts of the rock start to change into a different mineral called cristobalite. These cristobalite parts are what look like snowflakes. They’re basically tiny, white crystals that form in the black obsidian, giving it that snowy look.

Where you can find white obsidian

You can find white obsidian or snowflake obsidian in places where there have been volcanic eruptions. The USA has some great spots for finding them, especially in states with a history of volcanic activity.

For more specific guidance on this, you may check out our article on where to find obsidians.

Green Obsidian

A beautiful, visibly glassy piece of green obsidian with a streak of blue
Green obsidian photo provided by Murat Pilevneli

Green obsidian stands out because of its color. Think of the color of leaves in deep forests or the color of the ocean in certain lights. It’s not just plain green; it’s a rich, vibrant shade ranging from light to dark.

The green color comes from tiny amounts of certain minerals, like iron or chromium, that mix in with the lava. These minerals add a splash of green to the usually dark obsidian, creating this unique and beautiful rock.

Green obsidian is also interesting for a few reasons. In some places, people used to believe it had healing powers. They thought wearing it could help with health and well-being. Today, it’s a favorite among rock collectors and jewelry makers.

Where you can find green obsidian

Because of its rarity, finding green obsidian is like going on an adventure. It’s formed from lava, so you’ll find it in places where there used to be volcanoes.

In the USA, there are some neat places to find green obsidian, especially in the western part. States like Oregon and California, which have a history of volcanic activity, are good spots to look.

Check out our guide to the best rockhounding locations for more information.

Red Obsidian

A beautiful mahogany obsidian with predominantly red color and specks of black
Red mahogany obsidian cabochon photo provided by and available for purchase at TheGalaxyGems

Red obsidian boasts a vibrant red color. It’s a piece of glass that’s as red as a cherry or a glowing ember. It has a smooth, glassy surface, and when the light hits it, it almost seems to glow from within.

It gets its stunning color from something extra: tiny bits of iron. These bits of iron mix with the lava and give red obsidian its unique color.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: even though red obsidian is mostly red, sometimes it can have streaks or spots of other colors, like black or brown. This makes each piece extra special.

Where you can find red obsidian

Red obsidian is not just found anywhere. It’s like looking for a hidden treasure! In the USA, you can find this cool rock in areas with a volcanic past. Places like Oregon and California are good spots to look for it.

You can refer to our handy guide to find crystals near you should you need more help.

Blue Obsidian

A stunning, raw, icy blue obsidian chunk
Raw blue obsidian photo provided by HWH Crystals

Blue obsidian is another really rare and super special find because of its color. It has a beautiful, clear blue color that can remind you of the ocean or the sky on a clear day. I

It’s smooth and glassy, and when you hold it up to the light, it looks like you’re looking into a deep, blue world.

Just like other types of obsidian, it starts with lava from a volcano. But for blue obsidian, tiny bits of minerals and elements in the lava give it that cool blue color.

Blue obsidian isn’t just a pretty rock; it’s also interesting because it’s so rare. Even today, it’s a big deal for rock collectors to find a piece of it.

Sometimes, blue obsidian can also have little streaks or spots of other colors in it, like white or gray.

Where you can find blue obsidian

There are certain spots in the USA where you can find blue obsidian, although it won’t be just as easy as finding more common rocks. States that had volcanic activity a long time ago are your go-to if you want to find this rare obsidian.

If you need specific guidance on gem mining near you, we have a great article on that!

Brown Obsidian

Differently-shaped tumbled mahogany obsidians dominantly brown in color
Tumbled brown mahogany obsidians photo provided by 300 types Gemstones

Brown obsidian has a warm, earthy color of a rich, deep brown. It’s like looking at a piece of dark chocolate or the deep brown of a forest floor.

This rock is smooth and glassy, just like other types of obsidian, but its color makes it distinct.

The brown color of this rock comes from tiny bits of minerals and elements that mix in with the lava during its formation. These bits can include things like iron, which adds a brown tint to the usually dark obsidian.

Like the other colored obsidian, sometimes, brown obsidian can have streaks or spots of other colors in it, like black or red.

Where you can find brown obsidian

Brown obsidian comes from places where volcanoes have been busy in the past. Like the other colored obsidian, you can find them in places like Oregon and California in the USA.

Yellow Obsidian

Three pieces of tumbled yellow obsidian with different intensities and mix of the color yellow
Tumbled yellow obsidians photo provided by My Rare Gems

Yellow obsidian is like a piece of sunshine turned into a rock. It has a bright, cheerful yellow color that you might see on a sunflower or a lemon, but in a smooth, glassy rock. It’s shiny and when the light hits it, it almost seems to glow.

It gets its sunny color from tiny bits of minerals and elements in the lava during its process of being formed.

In the past, people used obsidian to make sharp tools and weapons. But yellow obsidian was a bit different because of its color. Some people thought it was special or had different meanings.

Today, it’s a favorite for jewelry makers and rock collectors. Its rare yellow color makes it a special find.

Where you can find yellow obsidian

Yellow obsidian pops up in some cool places around the globe. Wherever there’s been a volcano with lava cooling down super fast, there’s a chance for yellow obsidian to show up.

Gray Obsidian

Big raw chunk of gray obsidian with lines

Gray obsidian is like a piece of the stormy sky, frozen in time. It’s got this cool, gray shade, like the color of a dolphin, but in a smooth, glassy rock. Looking at it feels like looking at a misty, gray world.

Instead of lava getting mixed with other elements, the gray color of this obsidian comes from tiny bits of gas or air that get trapped in the lava as it cools. These little bubbles scatter the light and give the obsidian a gray color.

Aside from being used to make sharp weapons and tools, gray obsidian is also popular for making pretty things like jewelry. Its color and smooth surface make it a favorite for necklaces and bracelets.

Where you can find gray obsidian

You’ve got a good chance of finding gray obsidian in states that have had volcanic activity in the USA, like Oregon and California. They’re both known for their ancient volcanoes, making them great spots to look for this cool rock.

Rainbow Obsidian

An intricately-shaped rainbow obsidian displaying mesmerizing bands of different colors
Rainbow obsidian photo provided by Thee Ancients

Rainbow obsidian is not just one color. When you look at it, you see a mix of colors, like purple, green, and gold, all shimmering and changing as you move it in the light. It’s like a piece of glass that’s captured a rainbow.

Tiny layers of minerals inside the rainbow obsidian reflect light in different ways. It’s kind of like how oil on water can look like it has different colors.

The colors in rainbow obsidian aren’t always the same. Some pieces might have more purple, others might have more green or gold.

Where you can find rainbow obsidian

One of the best places to find amazing rainbow obsidian pieces is in California, USA. That state’s volcanic activity in the past is among the reasons rainbow obsidian can be found there.

Gold Sheen Obsidian

Six pieces of tumbled, shiny, gold sheen obsidian
Tumbled gold sheen obsidian photo provided by and available for purchase at CrystalCaveCo

Gold sheen obsidian is like a piece of the night sky sprinkled with stardust. It’s a dark, smooth rock that sparkles and shimmers with a golden sheen when you turn it in the light. It’s like the rock is winking at you with tiny gold stars.

Its surface is super glossy, making the golden sparkles stand out even more against the dark background.

In gold sheen obsidian, there are tiny bubbles of gas trapped in the rock. These bubbles reflect light in a special way that makes it look like it has a layer of gold shimmer.

Each piece of gold sheen obsidian is one-of-a-kind. The way the gold sparkles can be different in every rock, which makes each one special.

Where you can find gold sheen obsidian

Like the other colors of obsidian, gold sheen obsidian can be found in spots where lava from volcanoes cooled down super fast. In the USA, you can find this shiny rock in areas known for their old volcanoes.

Silver Sheen Obsidian

Pieces of tumbled sparkling silver sheen obsidians
Tumbled silver sheen obsidian photo provided by Rocks with Sass: Crystal Shop

If gold sheen obsidian looks like the night sky with stardust, silver sheen obsidian looks like it has a dash of moonlight. It’s a dark, smooth rock that shimmers with a silver glow.

The tiny gas bubbles trapped inside the silver sheen obsidian give it a silver glow. They reflect light in a special way that adds sparkle to the rock.

In the past, people used obsidian, including the silver sheen-colored one, for making sharp tools and weapons. Now, it’s a hit for making jewelry and is loved by rock collectors. Its unique silver shimmer makes it a really neat find.

Where you can find silver sheen obsidian

You can find silver sheen obsidian in places with a history of volcanoes. Like other obsidian, among the best places to look for it in the USA is in California, where old volcanoes are.

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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