The unique contrast and intensity of this stone’s colours gives it a mystical, fascinating aura, attracting people’s attention since ancient times.
Onyx is used in extravagant jeweler because of the elegance it inspires, but also because it goes particularly well with diamonds and any shade of gold.
Interestingly, this stone is chosen by both women and men equally, due to its attractive color as well as its wearability for any occasion.
It is part of the chalcedony class, which in turn is a form of microcrystalline quartz.
Onyx stone has layered bands of colour, making it perfect for making spectacular cameos and even a range of sculptures.
The shades of this stone can vary, so in addition to the classic black or black and white combination, it can also be found in shades of dark blue, red, brown or yellow.
Considering this fact, the strong yet contrasting union between the shades of onyx is considered representative of love between two people.
Onyx Origins and Legends
Onyx can be found in various regions of the world, including Yemen, Uruguay, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Latin America, the United Kingdom and various regions of the U.S.
The name ‘onyx’ comes from the Greek onux, which is translated as ‘fingernail’ or ‘claw’, a name that comes from the legend of the formation of the stone – incidentally, one of the most famous in Greek mythology. It is said that one day Cupid, the god of love, used one of his arrows to cut the nails of his mother, Venus, while the too beautiful goddess was sleeping. As they fell from Mount Olympus into the Indus River, they metamorphosed into onyx, and were considered divine.
It is known that this semi-precious stone was common in ancient Egypt and it is also said that Queen Cleopatra herself used to wear black onyx for its protective properties and the way it assimilated negative energies. Thus, around negative energies, the crystal vibrated, warning the queen of potential danger.
From an astrological point of view, this stone is associated with the zodiac signs Leo and Capricorn, due to their ambition and fearlessness, characteristics representative of onyx.
In the Victorian era, it was used to make brooches worn at funerals, as its black colour was suitable for such sombre moments.
Romans used to go into battle wearing amulets made of sardonyx or onyx, engraved with the god Mars, to give soldiers courage and fearlessness.
In addition to the many legends involving this stone, it is also found inside the famous Tugendhat villa in Brno, Czech Republic. Its construction was completed in 1930 by Miles van der Rohe and is one of the first prototypes representative of modern architecture. Its interior features a wall made entirely of onyx slabs extracted from the Atlas Mountains, which change their appearance under the rays of the sunset, thanks to their thickness that lets light penetrate them.
Technical characteristics of the onyx
The term onyx refers to those semi-precious stones of the chalcedony class, which are mainly white and black or white and red bands, but can also be found in other shades such as yellow or dark blue.
Onyx consisting of a basic black band and a thick, white top layer is known as Arabian onyx.
As for the dark blue one, the feeling of blue is only given by a thin, white band on top of a black one. This type of onyx is called nicolo onyx.
The combination of red/brown and white/yellow is representative of sardonix, a variety of the classic black onyx.
There are rumours that the onyx, in turn, represents a type of agate, which also comes from the chalcedony class. However, the two groups of semi-precious stones differ in the way the colour bands alternate, with agate having curved bands and onyx parallel.
Chemical formula: SiO2
Crystal Structure: Hexagonal (Trigonal)
Refractive index: 1.544-1.553
Colour: Black, white(layered), red, some varieties may even be brown, yellow or dark blue
Mohs hardness: 6.5-7
Heat sensitivity: No
Energetic and spiritual properties of onyx
Onyx is found and used in a rich cultural range due to the diverse beneficial properties it possesses.
In China, it was used to make amulets and bracelets, but especially in Feng Shui, as it was considered protective, helping and supporting the concentration, perseverance and vitality of the possessor.
In ancient India and Persia, people used the onyx stone to protect themselves from evil forces, but also to stabilise relationships, considering it to be representative of love and harmony between couples.
Regardless of region, people consider onyx, especially black onyx, a stone of balance and adaptability because it requires mixing an equal part of each shade of the spectrum to obtain this colour.
Its special properties of absorbing negative energies and enhancing courage make this stone considered mystical, managing to connect the wearer with the self, thus making it easier to get through difficult and stressful times.
Also, nowadays, onyx is known to help heal physical as well as psychological traumas, anchoring people in a stable lifestyle and providing self-control.
Onyx stone care tips
Due to its high hardness of 6.5 – 7 on the Mohs scale, onyx is one of the resistant stones that does not degrade under the action of dust and can even withstand mechanical blows. However, it is best to avoid contact with scratching objects.
In order to keep the color of the stone intact and not lose its intensity, it is recommended to clean it with a damp or dry cloth, without detergents or cleaning solutions.
The use of ultrasound or other physical cleaning methods is also not recommended.