Lava rock, known as basalt or mafic rock, is the broad name for minerals that form when lava cools and hardens. But wait… is lava a crystal? Nope! It’s molten rock (magma) emerging as liquid onto Earth’s surface. While it’s not a crystal, minerals can crystallize within it as magma cools.
So is lava rock a gemstone? Geologically, not officially. They belong to the volcanic igneous rock family and are often called volcanic stones — but “lava stones” sounds so much cooler, doesn’t it?
Basalt can be found anywhere in the world that has volcanic activity. These ancient, porous stones are typically gray, black, or red in color. Most are seemingly understated at first glance, but UV light unveils a fiery glow hiding just beneath their surface!
Does lava stone have healing properties? Absolutely! Its healing powers have been put to use for millions of years — but more on that later!
From its ancient history to its present-day physical and metaphysical uses, we’ll teach you everything there is to know about lava stones!
You don’t have to dig too deep to uncover what lava stones are made of. Lava rocks are just that: rocks made of… well, lava! What you probably hadn’t guessed is that the term “lava stones” is actually a broader term for all types of mafic rocks and gems.
So then, what stone is lava? Technically, it’s not a stone. Lava is molten rock, meaning it’s a liquid. Once it cools, it solidifies into stone. Hence, lava stones!
Lava stones beads have been used in jewelry for ages! Known as a “grounding stone”, it’s believed to deepen the wearer’s connection to Mother Earth and provide stillness amidst chaos.
In terms of the zodiac, its links to fire and earth are closely tied to the Taurus and Cancer signs. As they also love stability over chaos, lava rock’s grounding properties are an ideal match.
Basalt is frequently incorporated with other precious and semi-precious gemstone jewelry, as its absorbent nature is ideal for holding your favorite essential oils. Panicked about an upcoming date? Infuse your lava rock bracelet with some frankincense to calm your nerves!
A variety of minerals contribute to lava stones’ composition. The most common are pyroxene, olivine, amphibole, and plagioclase feldspar. Low quantities of hornblende, magnetite, and quartz are occasionally present also.
As for the physical side of lava stones’ properties, they feature a dense, porous surface with a honeycomb-like appearance. Their colors mimic the same hues you see in volcanic lava: blacks, grays, browns, reds, and oranges.
At first glance, you might confuse lava rock for an everyday stone. But, ultraviolet light can make them fluoresce brilliantly — kind of like molten lava!
Here’s a closer look at basalt’s mineral characteristics:
Mineral Family: Extrusive igneous rocks (mafic)
Composition: Silicon dioxide
Mohs Hardness: 6.0-6.5
Color: Black, gray, dark gray, charcoal, brown, red, dark orange, greenish-gray, bluish-gray, olive green
Crystal structure: Amorphous
Luster: Dull; fine-grained (Vitreous under UV light)
Streak: Dark gray to black
Luminescence: Thermoluminescent; Phosphorescent (Glows red, orange, yellow, gold under UV light)
Now that you know a bit about its physical traits, what does lava rock symbolize?
People have been fascinated with volcanoes since civilization began. Lava stone’s volcanic roots are associated with great power, divine wrath, and the human condition’s fragility in the face of Mother Earth’s elements. As a result, it’s consistently played a role in cultural myths, legends, and rituals.
Lava rock first found its way into jewelry during the Victorian Era. Cameos (carved profile portraits with a raised image) were carved onto lava stone from Mt. Vesuvius.
Nearing the 19th century, English ladies touring the buried cities of Pompeii in Italy wanted lava stones as souvenirs. Locals fashioned them into brooches, rings, bracelets, and other jewelry to sell to tourists.
Hawaii also has mythological ties to basalt. Continuous lava flow is a major reason for the Big Island’s growth. It’s estimated that over four percent of the island sits on lava rock. For tourists, the dark terrain is a dazzling sight often tempting them to take lava stones as souvenirs (despite being illegal).
Little do they know, Hawaii’s basalt is shrouded in superstition.
According to the legend of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire, she considers the volcanic rocks to be her children. The story goes that anyone who dares steal lava stones from Pele will be cursed with misfortune. Spooky!
Now that we know a bit about its history, what is lava rock good for?
All gemstones have unique characteristics to use as healing stones. Lava stones are no different! Apart from dressing up your landscape and glowing under UV light, lava rock’s healing properties can help stimulate wellness in your mind, body, and soul.
Lava rock benefits the physical body in many ways. Unlike other gems, you can use it to physically cleanse the body. Does that mean lava stones can get wet? Yes! Their porosity helps retain liquids, like water and oil.
They also conserve and diffuse heat. Lava stones help dispel negativity, soothe muscles, and improve circulation. Hot stone massage, anyone?
It’s also closely tied to fertility and hormonal balance. Lava stones can absorb pain, unrest, and nausea, especially during pregnancy. It’s also said to ease discomfort during menstruation. Who needs a heating pad when you’ve got lava stones?
Lava rock’s raw energy ties to rebirth and shedding negative emotional attachments. It’s believed to help you gather your thoughts to make wiser decisions. Next time you’re struggling with indecision, consider how lava rock bracelet benefits can help you make the right choice!
So we know how it heals the mind and body, but what about lava rock’s spiritual meaning?
Your chakras are various energy points along your body. When they fall out of balance, they throw you out of equilibrium. Chakra stones are tools to realign your chakras and shift you back into balance.
There are two lava stone chakras: the solar plexus and third eye chakras. A blocked solar plexus can manifest in anxiety and joylessness. A blocked third eye can cause you to lack inner wisdom and spiritual awareness.
Lava rock’s warm, maternal energies anchor your body and mind in the present while dispelling fear and uncertainty. The stone allows you to accept the present and move forward fearlessly. Activating your solar plexus and third eye, enables you to be confident, ambitious and connected to your higher consciousness.
Lava stones are powerful healers indeed, but their powers vary depending on the variation:
Named after the Andes Mountains, this lava rock is a mix of rhyolite and basalt and presents in black, gray, blue, and other dull tones. It is believed to help you overcome challenging times.
While a black lava stone’s meaning is associated with strength and power, blue ones are said to open clairaudience and have positive transformative powers.
Another porous lava rock, felsite is believed to ignite underlying potential. Darker-toned variations are ideal for increasing self-confidence.
Obsidian, the most popular lava stone, is formed from felsic (or low temperature) lava. It helps absorb negative energy and provide clarity. Does that mean that lava stone is the same as obsidian? Kind of! Lava rock is the umbrella that all of these stones sit under.
Red lava stone’s color meaning is associated with virility in Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophy of arranging a space to achieve harmony. Its deep to dull red colors make it a popular decor accessory in garden design.
These silica-rich lava stones have glassy textures and appear pink to gray. It’s a multi-chakra stone believed to connect you to your inner thoughts.
Coined the "Choco Lava Rock," this plutonic stone resembles your favorite candy bar. One of the paler-toned lava rocks, it’s perfect for those seeking tranquility.
Familiar with the Easter Island Head Statues? They’re carved from volcanic tuff (or ash). This soft lava rock appears in brown, white, pink, and gray; and is associated with mental clarity.
So, where do lava stones originate?
Lava stones contain high amounts of iron and magnesium elements (collectively known as the ferromagnesian group) and calcium. Their chemical composition makes them the most abundant rock type of the ocean floor and Earth's crust. They’re also the primary rock layer of the Hawaiian Islands.
When active volcanos erupt, lava bursts from deep under Earth’s crust and runs onto the surface. As this fiery liquid cools, it solidifies into a rock. That rock is what we know as lava stones.
Where can you find these volcanic stones today?
This abundant stone can be found all over the world in hot spots under continental or oceanic plates, in mid-oceanic gaps (between two divergent oceanic plates), and in subduction zones, but also in areas with active or historic volcanic activity.
Several significant lava stone deposits are located in:
The Canary Islands
The Faroe Islands
France (the Auvergne)
South Africa (the Karoo)
Interested in rocking some lava beads yourself? Let’s see how they fare in price!
So how much do lava stones cost? Given their abundance, they’re quite affordable! While they’re used in jewelry and reasonably inexpensive, they’re more popular (and pricier) within the interior design realm.
Basalt countertops cost around $300 per square foot, substantially pricier than marble. Other decorative pieces cost less. Raw lava stones, for instance, start around $5-10 for smaller decorative pieces. Prices increase for larger pieces.
As for lava rock jewelry, bargain hunters are in luck! Bracelets and beads are fairly affordable. A simple, beaded lava stone bracelet might run you about $2, making it a very accessible gemstone!
Lava stones typically appear in black or charcoal. They can also be gray, brown, red, orange, occasionally greenish-gray, bluish-gray, or olive green.
Its hardness and porosity make it easy to cut and carve into most forms, including pendants, faceted cuts, cabochons, and other unique shapes. However, the most popular are natural, black basalt beads.
Lava stones are generally lightweight minerals. There are some denser specimens, but weight usually doesn’t impact price.
Lava stone is naturally rough in texture. However, paraffin wax treatments can make it smooth to the touch. Lava stones can also be dyed in different colors.
How can you tell if lava rock is real? Look at its pores! If the holes look a little too perfectly symmetrical, chances are it’s not natural.
So you snagged some lava stones and you’re ready to reset your karmic balance! Let’s go over maintenance and how to cleanse lava stones to keep the good energy flowing!
When caring for gemstones, remember that each has its own rules. Luckily, lava stones are fairly durable and low-maintenance.
To clean them, use warm water and mild soap. If you’re struggling to get a scent or oil out, distilled white vinegar will do the trick. Then, let them air-dry.
How long do lava beads last? A lifetime if you take care of them! However, rubbing or banging them against harder surfaces or wetting them before letting them fully dry could reduce their lifespan. To be safe, keep them stored away from other gems and avoid ultrasonic or steam cleaners to prevent damaging the natural stone.
Now you know how to keep basalt clean, but how do you cleanse it of negative energy? Leave it in direct sunlight or moonlight for a full day. Or burn sage and smudge away!
We’re right there with you! Their volcanic roots and connection to Earth’s core symbolize rebirth, strength, and stabilization. At such an accessible price point, there’s no reason to pass up its explosive healing powers and raw energy!
Browse lava stones from Gem Rock Auctions today!
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