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What on Earth Is Onyx?

Ah, mysterious onyx. This mesmerizing banded variety of the oxide mineral, chalcedony, holds the beauty of the sky in all its phases. Its popular deep black base resembles the stillness of the night, with alternating curved bands of gray and white that mirror dusk, dawn, and day.

Chalcedony is a fibrous cryptocrystalline material composed of the silica minerals, quartz and morganite. It naturally occurs in silica-rich marine sedimentary rocks, in sandstones as cement, or in volcanic rocks as fillings or crusts.

The Physical Properties of Onyx

Onyx is a translucent to opaque material, made of Silicon Dioxide (SiO2). It has a hardness of 6 ½ to 7 in the Mohs scale and a density of about 2.55 to 2.70 grams per cubic centimeter. This mineral produces a white streak and commonly possesses a waxy luster, sometimes elaborated as vitreous-waxy or silky when polished. Onyx is typically found with no traces of impurities.

Onyx is a relatively soft, porous material that can absorb water and other liquids easily. Using a dry cloth or soft brush to wipe off dirt from an Onyx stone is best practice.

While the Black Onyx is the most known of its kind, more Onyx varieties can be classified according to the colors of its base and bands. Some of which are:

  • Sardonyx is a relatively common and affordable variety which is usually flat banded with a brown base and reddish bands.
  • Carnelian Onyx has a striking red base with lighter color bands. It displays alternating red and white bands.
  • Niccolo Onyx has very thin upper layers. It allows the color of the black base layer to be seen through as grey or blue.
  • Green Onyx is commonly mistaken for jade or emerald because of its green base, but is distinguishable for its form and structure. It has white and brown bands.

The History of Onyx

Onyx is a Latin word derived from the Greek term ὄνυξ, meaning “nail” or “claw”, referring to the colors of its parallel bands often resembling that of a bird’s claw. Onyx deposits are found in several areas in the world including, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Botswana, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, the UK, Uruguay, and the USA.

This material has been used throughout history as hardstone carvings, jewelry, and cameo engraved gems. The green onyx variety was a preferred choice for a sculpture base or plinth during the 1920s-1930s in Brazil. Onyx was also used to make pottery items in Ancient Egypt. In the 1930s, the iconic Villa of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat — declared by UNESCO as one of the World’s Cultural Heritage Sites — was famously completed with a semi-translucent interior wall surface made from Onyx, by designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Onyx has been widely recognized in the history of art, stoneware, and architectural aesthetics.

The Lore of Onyx

Cupid, the Roman god of love, used the point of his arrows to cut the fingernails of his sleeping mother, Venus. Her nails fell from Mount Olympus to the sacred river, Indus, and sank deep into the bottom where it metamorphosed into onyx. This is the most well-known mythical legend of Onyx. Onyx was a sacred stone in Roman history. Sardonyx was carried as an amulet or protective stone during battle.

It was also believed that the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra possessed an onyx stone to warn her for imminent dangers. Onyx absorbs dark energy and is said to appear darker the more it clears negativity in a space.

This stone revitalizes the immune system and assists tissue regeneration. It also supports the respiratory and digestive systems.

Onyx is the birthstone of Leo and a strong spiritual guide for Sagittarius. Both being fire signs - adventurous, romantic, and restless to a point - Onyx provides both zodiacs a sense of destination. It is a stone of harmonious relationships that controls sexual or romantic impulses. This stone promotes work-life balance for the ever so busy Leos and Sagittarians.

The Metaphysical Properties of Onyx

Onyx is a powerful Warrior Stone, used to rule out fear. It emits potent healing vibrations that reach anyone coming close, without even touching it. Onyx banishes grief to allow clarity and enhances the power of wise decision making. It is a strength-giving stone, freeing one from the pain of the past and allowing self-discipline to take a lead in obtaining happiness and good fortune. An Onyx stone stimulates the base chakra, connecting with the electromagnetic energy of the Earth; it is a grounding tool and can be used to deflect or absorb toxic energies. Like the moon and stars in the dead of night, this sturdy stone provides light during the darkest times of a person’s life and restores spiritual stamina, inner peace, and certainty.

Sources:

Onyx: The Powerful Warrior Stone. Plus Minus Co. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.plusminusco.com/blogs/news/onyx-the-powerful-warrior-stone

Green Onyx. Crystal Council. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://thecrystalcouncil.com/crystals/green-onyx#:~:text=Green%20Onyx%20is%20often%20mistaken,most%20other%20forms%20of%20Onyx.

Sagittarius Crystals. Cosmic Cuts. Retrieved December 8, 2020, https://cosmiccuts.com/blogs/healing-stones-blog/sagittarius-crystals-the-10-best-zodiac-stones-for-sagittarius-sun-sign

Different Types and Colors of Onyx. Angara. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.angara.com/blog/different-types-and-colors-of-onyx/

Black Onyx. MYCU. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from hhttps://www.myku.co/pages/black-onyx

Villa Tugendhat. Tugendhat EU. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.tugendhat.eu/en/#:~:text=The%20Villa%20of%20Greta%20and,UNESCO%20World%20Cultural%20Heritage%20sites.

The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Perfect Onyx Ring. Hong Factory. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.hongfactory.com/jewelry-blog/group-007/ultimate-guide-when-buying-onyx-ring-or-onyx-jewelry/

Onyx Wikipedia. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onyx

What Is Onyx. Learning Geology. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from http://geologylearn.blogspot.com/2017/01/onyx.html

Onyx Meanings, Powers, and History. Jewels for Me. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.jewelsforme.com/onyx-meaning

Onyx. Mindat.org. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.mindat.org/min-2999.html

Onyx. Energy Muse. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from https://www.energymuse.com/onyx-meaning