Rock Discoveries

Unearthing the Rarity and Value of Fire Obsidian

A Gemstone Made of Fire and Rainbow: The Rarity and Value of Fire Obsidian

Have you ever heard of fire obsidian? This beautiful gemstone is a rare find that catches the attention of gemstone collectors and jewelry enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we will explore the rarity and value of fire obsidian as well as its optical phenomenon that makes it truly unique.

Description of Fire Obsidian

Fire obsidian is a type of volcanic glass that forms when lava cools rapidly. It has a black appearance, often with rainbow-like colors that shimmer in the light.

These colors are caused by the presence of tiny crystals of magnetite, which give the stone its iridescence. Although some other minerals can also produce iridescent stones, fire obsidian is particularly valued for its deep, rich colors.

Difficulty and Rarity in Finding Fire Obsidian

Fire obsidian is found mainly in Oregon, USA. Mining for this stone is challenging because most of the best deposits are located on private mining claims.

Still, some public areas can provide access to fire obsidian in the form of small stones or rough material. However, collecting fire obsidian in public lands might require a permit or special authorization.

Another reason why fire obsidian is rare is that it requires specific geological conditions to occur. For example, the presence of magnetite crystals in the right quantity and size is fundamental to fire obsidian’s unique iridescence.

The result is that fire obsidian is one of the most sought-after forms of obsidian and is a valuable addition to gemstone collections.

Price of Fire Obsidian

Due to the rarity of fire obsidian and the difficulty in mining the stone, it can be expensive. The cost for a small slab of polished fire obsidian can be over $100, while high-quality cabochons or rough materials can be over $1,000.

However, for those with a passion for gemstones, the beauty and uniqueness of fire obsidian are worth the investment.

Optical Phenomenon of Fire Obsidian

The cause of fire obsidian’s shimmer is the presence of ultra-thin crystals of magnetite that form inside the obsidian. These crystals are so small that they are thinner than the wavelength of visible light.

As light passes through these crystals, it becomes separated into the component colors via thin-film interference. This phenomenon creates the rainbow-like colors that make fire obsidian a unique and highly sought-after gemstone.

Comparison to Other Stones and Minerals

Fire obsidian can resemble labradorite or precious opal, which are also known for their iridescence and play of color-effect. In contrast, dark-colored stones like hematite or black obsidian may have reflective surfaces but lack the rainbow colors that make fire obsidian so distinctive.

When closely compared, the colors of fire obsidian are deeper, warmer, and more complex than those of other iridescent stones. In conclusion, fire obsidian is a rare and precious gemstone that has captured the attention of gemstone collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.

Its deep black appearance and rainbow-like colors, attributed to the presence of magnetite crystals, make it a truly unique stone. While it might be difficult to find and expensive to purchase, fire obsidian is a gemstone that is worth the investment.

Mining and Cutting of Fire Obsidian: A Costly and Challenging Endeavor

Fire obsidian is a rare and stunning gemstone that has become highly sought after in the world of gemstone collecting. However, mining and cutting this unique stone can be a costly and challenging endeavor.

In this article, we will explore the difficulties involved in mining and cutting fire obsidian.

Mining of Fire Obsidian

A small portion of the available fire obsidian is found in public lands, but most of the best deposits are found on private mining claims that are difficult to access. It has become a closely guarded secret among fire obsidian miners, and many locations are passed down through generations by word of mouth or personal relationships.

Additionally, because of previous mining activity, some fire obsidian claims have been grandfathered with legal protection, making it even more challenging for new miners to access the land. These obstacles have resulted in higher prices and more demand for fire obsidian.

Mining fire obsidian is also difficult due to other challenges inherently associated with obsidian mining. Obsidian contains traces of metals and minerals that need to be extracted from the ore before it can be polished into a gem.

Therefore, mining needs the same equipment and processing pipelines used in other mineral extraction processes to separate the valuable materials from the useless.

Difficulty in Cutting Fire Obsidian

Cutting fire obsidian can be a costly and labor-intensive process. The stone is difficult to cut because of its extreme hardness and the fact that the magnetite crystals that provide its stunning iridescence are located only in a very thin layer.

The cutting process requires a highly skilled lapidary who has experience in cutting and polishing obsidian. To release the magnetite crystals’ full spectrum of colors, a unique technique is used, which is known as “wet polish”.

Wet polishing is a time-consuming process that involves using increasingly fine grit and polishing pads to remove the layers of the stone and uncover the magnetite layer. The magnetite layer is isolated and polished further until the stunning iridescence shines through.

Collecting Fire Obsidian

Though fire obsidian is rare, some areas of public land permit rock collecting, occasionally yielding small obsidian pieces. To find larger pieces of fire obsidian, access to privately-owned land is often necessary.

However, obtaining this access can be a challenge, and many collectors rely on personal relationships with claim owners to gain access. Legal issues and challenges surrounding the collection of fire obsidian have been ongoing for some time.

There are several reasons for this, such as location, conflicts between mining and collecting claims and dig sites, among others. Several court battles have been conducted over the rights to mine and collect fire obsidian, causing concerns regarding its accessibility in the future.

Final thoughts

Fire obsidian is a rare and beautiful gemstone that is highly prized for its iridescence and deep, rich colors. Mining and cutting this extraordinary stone is a challenging and expensive process, which further adds to its value and appeal.

The difficulty in obtaining access to valuable fire obsidian deposits and the ongoing legal concerns with rock collecting is a challenge that collectors face when trying to obtain this magnificent gemstone. Despite these hardships, the beauty and rarity of fire obsidian make it a truly unique and valued gemstone in the world of gem collecting.

Comparison to Other Types of Obsidian: Rarity and Value

Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that is formed when molten lava cools rapidly. Obsidian comes in various types and colors and can be found all around the world.

In this article, we will compare fire obsidian to other types of obsidian in terms of rarity and value.

Description of Obsidian

Obsidian is known for its deep black color and smooth texture, which is ideal for cutting and polishing. The stone is formed from volcanic lava that cools rapidly, preventing significant crystal growth, creating a glassy, amorphous solid.

Despite being black obsidian, it is possible to find some types of obsidian in different colors, including brown, red, and green.

Rarity and Value of Other Types of Obsidian

High-Quality Rainbow Sheen Obsidian

Rainbow sheen obsidian is another type of obsidian that is renowned for its iridescence and rainbow colors. This particular obsidian is rare, and its quality is dependent on the size and number of inclusions present in the stone.

Rainbow sheen obsidian is mainly found in Mexico, but it can be challenging to obtain high-quality specimens.

Ultra High-Grade Obsidian

Another type of obsidian that is highly valued by collectors is ultra high-grade obsidian. This obsidian has a high degree of clarity and is free from air bubbles, inclusions, or cracks that may weaken the stone’s structure.

Ultra high-grade obsidian is usually found in large deposits and can be cut, polished, and used for jewelry.

Less Expensive Obsidian

Less expensive types of obsidian are more readily available than rare types like fire obsidian and rainbow sheen obsidian. Mahogany obsidian, for instance, is a deep brown to black color with reddish-brown spots that are caused by the crystallization of magnetite or hematite.

Snowflake obsidian, on the other hand, has white inclusions that form star-shaped patterns on a black background. Lesser expensive obsidian types are often used in decorative items or ornamental carvings and are widely available in markets worldwide.

Final Thoughts

Obsidian is a unique and intriguing gemstone that is unlike any other material used for jewelry. The rarity of some types of obsidian, combined with their strength and beauty make them highly sought-after by collectors and jewelry enthusiasts.

Fire obsidian is exquisitely rare and exceptional due to its iridescent colors, but other types of obsidian also have their own unique characteristics that make them remarkable and valuable to consumers. Thus, collectors and enthusiasts can choose any type of obsidian that suits their taste and preference due to the variety of forms in which they are available.

In conclusion, fire obsidian is a valuable and rare gemstone that is highly sought-after by gemstone collectors and jewelry enthusiasts worldwide. Its deep black appearance, coupled with its rainbow-like colors, is a remarkable and unique feature.

However, mining and cutting fire obsidian is a labor-intensive process that requires skilled lapidaries, making it a costly endeavor. Other types of obsidian, such as mahogany obsidian and snowflake obsidian, are also valuable and have their characteristics that make them remarkable.

Ultimately, these diverse obsidian types show how nature’s variation can create beauty and intrigue in the world of gemstone collecting. FAQs:


Where is fire obsidian found?

Fire obsidian is mainly found in Oregon, USA.

2. What causes fire obsidian’s shimmer?

Fire obsidian’s shimmer is caused by the presence of ultra-thin crystals of magnetite that form inside the obsidian and separate the colors via thin-film interference. 3.

What factors affect fire obsidian’s value?

The rarity and difficulty involved in mining and cutting fire obsidian and the richness of the colors affect its value.

4. What are the different types of obsidian available?

There are various types of obsidian available, including fire obsidian, rainbow sheen obsidian, mahogany obsidian, and snowflake obsidian. 5.

Is it hard to cut fire obsidian? Yes, cutting fire obsidian is notoriously hard due to the magnetite layer’s isolation and requires a skilled lapidary.

6. Is fire obsidian easy to collect?

Access to fire obsidian can be difficult, and legal issues such as court battles continue to pose challenges for rock collecting.

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