Onyx is a chalcedony that occurs in bands of different colours. It is composed of relatively straight, parallel layers of different colours. When the dark layers are brown or brownish red, it is often called Sardonyx.
Onyx is a form of agate with parallel banding.
This structure lends itself to cameo making.
Black Onyx is a luxurious chalcedony quartz with a fine texture and deep black colour. Natural black onyx is rare. Most black onyx used in jewellery today is produced by soaking agate in sugar solution and then heating in sulphuric acid to carbonise the sugar particles.
Onyx was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The name comes from the Greek word "onux", which means fingernail.
The legend behind the name goes something like this.
One day a playful Cupid cut the divine fingernails of Venus with an arrowhead while she was sleeping. He left the clippings scattered on the sand and the fates turned them into stone so that no part of the heavenly body would ever perish. True, black isn't normally the colour one associates with fingernails but then Venus may have been a closet "Goth". However, in Greek times, almost all colours of chalcedony from ivory/white to dark brown and black were called onyx. Later, the Romans narrowed the term to refer to black and dark brown colours only.
Black onyx is often used in smooth cabochon form but also looks stunning when faceted. Look at our black onyx pendants, black onyx bracelets and black onyx necklaces to see both. Black onyx is also popular in marquisite jewellery.
This gemstone is reputed to eliminate negative thinking and to sharpen the wits of the wearer. Onyx is said to bring spiritual inspiration. It is a great assistance in holding emotions and passions under control.
Black Onyx is used to help one change habits.
Explore our entire black onyx jewellery collection.
Red onyx varies in colour from a brownish brick red to a brighter orange-red colour.
Like black onyx it is used in cabochon form or faceted in jewellery pieces. In texture it is dense and even and opaque. However, once faceted the surface becomes more translucent and adds a glisten to the stone.
Banded red onyx combines reds, browns and dark creams. This is usually used for ornaments and ornamental stone features.
Shop our red onyx jewellery collection.
It's hard to describe the colour of green onyx without getting carried away with superlatives! Lighter pieces are almost a spearmint green whilst darker pieces a rich bottle green colour. Green onyx is always blue toned and it suits everyone!
Like black and red onyx, it makes wonderful affordable jewellery pieces and is available in cabochons or faceted stones.
Onyx is the birthstone for July (shared with ruby and carnelian) and the gemstone for the seventh year wedding anniversary.
Shop our gorgeous green onyx jewellery.