Onyx Stone - Colour, Characteristics & Properties - TJC

Onyx Gemstone

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Onyx Gemstone

An Introduction:

The parallel banded variety of the silicate mineral chalcedony is often referred to as Onyx gemstone. Onyx and agate are varieties of layered chalcedony that differ just in the form of bands. Onyx stone is believed to have parallel bands whereas agate has curved bands. The colours of the agate band range from black to probably all colours. Usually, samples of onyx have bands of black or white.

On a descriptive note, Onyx stone has been applied to parallel varieties of Obsidian, Opal, Alabaster and Marble and also misleading to materials with contorted banding such as Mexican Onyx and Cave Onyx.

A form of chalcedony, Onyx stone is a microcrystalline stone which is formed in the gas cavities of lava. Its multi-layered structure is seen to have resemblance to that of the agates. When the stone has a white upper layer and black base, it is known as Onyx stone. When the Onyx has a brown base, it is known as Sardonyx whereas Carnelian Onyx has a red base.

History Bite

The Romans loved using Onyx stone to create lavish interiors. They particularly liked to carve it into seals and cameos. In ancient India, people used the gemstone to help them in concentrating and bring calm when going through a stressful event. Some also believed that the gemstone could be used to bring unwanted passion under control.

Geology Lesson

Some believed that Onyx Gemstone could help people going through challenges in life, especially those caused by lack of energy. Healers believe the stone can help you break a bad habit or can help you in becoming more productive.

Hocus Pocus

The word Onyx comes from Greek which means nail or claw. According to classical Greek legend, while Venus was sleeping Eros cut her fingernails and left the clippings scattered on the ground. As no part of a heavenly body should die, the gods turned the clippings into Onyx gemstone.

Origin & Supply of Onyx Gemstone

The deposits of Onyx are found all over the globe including Australia, India, Brazil, Madagascar, Pakistan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, USA and Uruguay.

Optical Features:

1. Colour

The gemstone has a white base and white upper layer but may have bands of multiple other colours between those layers. Onyx can also be of a single colour, and in the case of Sard Onyx, the layers are of brown colour. You may also come across some entirely black coloured Onyx stone.

2. Clarity and Lustre

Onyx stone has a waxy to dull lustre and is opaque; they are also free from all typical inclusions.

3. Cut and Shape

Onyx gemstone is carved into alluring cameos due to its bands of colours and doing this maximizes the banding. The beautiful gemstone is also cut in glossy cabochons and can also be used to make beads or pendants.

Onyx Gemstone Treatment:- The gemstone is usually dyed to enhance its hues and produce a uniform colour. Such kind of methods have been in use for a long time now. The bold and glossy black coloured Onyx gemstone is achieved with the use of concentrated sugar solution after the heated sulphuric acid treatment.


1) Onyx gemstone is a cryptocrystalline quartz. Right from the past, it has afforded gem cutters and carvers a great source for carving cameos and various other jewellery creations. Onyx gemstone is inexpensive, abundant and is also available in large sizes. It is one of the most favoured stone when it comes to fashioning cabochon gems and beads.

2) Onyx gemstone is believed to be one of the ancient stones and was used by the earliest civilizations for its energy and beauty. This bold black coloured gemstone ribboned with white was highly prized due to its use in ceremonies, burials and magical things. The gem was also used in armour and shields to provide strength to the warriors in the battle.

3) The word Onyx is seen to be derived from the Greek and Latin words that mean claw or fingernail because it resembles the human nail. It is also referred to the Arabic term "el jaza" which means sadness. And, if we talk about the recent times, the name Onyx is being misused to describe any banded gemstones with parallel banding.

4) Onyx, in the past, was widely used as handles and bases for gold items. Along with this, the gemstone was also used for inlay work.

Various Types and Colours of Onyx Gemstone

Sardonyx: Sardonyx is generally flat banded and has a brown base with colour bands in the hues of red. Sardonyx is comparatively affordable and common variety of onyx gemstone.

Niccolo Onyx: This kind of Onyx gemstone has a super-thin upper layer. The gemstone permits the colour of the black base layer to be visible through as green or blue.

Cornelian Onyx: It has a red coloured base with lighter colour bands. This variety of Onyx gemstone showcases alternating red and white bands that look highly appealing.

Black Onyx: There are limited Onyx gemstone varieties where a stone is of a single colour and has no colour banding. Black Onyx is the most popular Onyx stone variety, and it belongs to this category. But, a solid black Onyx is rarely found in nature. Generally, a grey chalcedony undergoes treatment and is converted into a Black Onyx Gemstone.

Blessed with enchanting looks, Onyx Gemstone undeniably would always stand out of the crowd. Its intriguing beauty and dramatic charm make it worthy of all things good.

What to Remember while Buying Onyx Gemstone? A brief guide for the buyers!

There are lots of things that you need to keep in mind when you’re shopping for an emerald. The stone has several rip-offs, too, which makes it extremely important for you to keep these tips in mind before going to pick your piece of perfect sparkler. Here are some of them:

  • Know the Imitations Know the Imitations: Sometimes a simple black plastic is sold under the name of Onyx. This black plastic is lighter and softer and is glossy even at the back. It can be very easily scratched and cracked. The best way to check the gemstone is through checking its weight or for a glossy look at the back.

    You can also put the onyx gemstone through a scratch or fire test. Light the stone for 10 seconds with the help of a lighter before dropping it in the water. If the gemstone is real, it would remain unharmed and if it is fake it would melt.

  • Check the Surface To check the gemstone that you're buying is of good quality or not, you can simply check the surface of the onyx gem. If the gemstone is real, then its surface would be well-polished and reflective. The surface of the gemstone should be entirely scratch-free and crack free.
  • The Cut of the Onyx Gemstone Onyx is available in multiple shapes. Most commonly, it is cut into a smooth glossy cabochon in various shapes such as pear, oval, square, marquise and round. The setting, cutting and carving of the gemstone adds a lot of value to it. Onyx gemstones that feature custom cuts, detailed carvings and setting would undoubtedly have a higher price tag than those gemstones featuring a conventional cut and calibrated size. The checkerboard cut or faceted Onyx would display a fantastic lustrous surface and might just cost more for its cutting crafts.
  • Onyx Colour Mostly Onyx gemstone occurs in alternating colours. Black Onyx gem is one of the incredibly famous varieties of the gemstone. Other than black and white, surd onyx stone is pretty popular too and has a brown base layer. It features a lighter upper layer which has a red-hued base layer.
  • Clarity of the Onyx Gemstone Mostly Onyx gemstones have no impurities. They are known for their incredible quality. Onyx gemstones are mostly opaque. Hence, when you are out buying an Onyx gemstone, make sure that they are similar to the given description and contain no impurities and are of high-level quality. The fake Onyx gemstone might not possess any such properties.

How to Care for your Onyx Jewellery?

Onyx gemstone is believed to be highly durable and is easy to maintain, making it appear the best. You can clean your Onyx jewellery with the help of a moist cloth. When you see the dirt building up, you can remove it with the help of soap, warm water and a soft brush and can clean the gemstone. Once, you finish washing the jewellery, make sure no soap residue is left behind, and the gemstone is dried thoroughly. Using any chemical solutions is not recommended at all, as these chemical solutions may seep into the Onyx gemstone and may cause discolouration.

Facts About Onyx Gemstone

1) Onyx stone is a mineral, that's like marble, quartzite or granite. The gemstone is associated with quartz mineral group and is a layered gemstone. Few of its layers might contrast. You might see an Onyx gemstone in black and white parallel layers or in white and brown layers which are technically known as Sardonyx.

2) The hardness of Onyx gemstone is 6.5-7 measured on the Mohs scale. It has a smooth wax-like lustre and is generally used as the background of a cameo broach, ring or pendant.

3) The colour uniformity of an Onyx is maintained by dying it. To bring out the intensity, it undergoes a heat treatment. Both these enhancements do not lower its value. Jewellery pieces embedded with Onyx are relatively inexpensive. The metal in which the jewellery piece is set down in might cost you more than the gemstone.

4) The Black Onyx can be set in white gold, silver and yellow gold. Each metal enhances the beauty of this gemstone. Sardonyx, which is a brown and white layered Onyx, is usually set in the finishing of antique silver.

On a Final Note.

We won't be wrong in stating that Onyx jewellery is cost-effective and can make you look fashionable. It has now become an absolute gem that has occupied almost all the display shelves of leading jewellery brands across the globe. If you are a fan of simple jewellery pieces featuring minimal design and are versatile enough to be donned every day, then the jewellery pieces embedded with the beauty of Onyx stone can be an ideal choice for you indeed. Be it Onyx rings, neckpieces or bracelets you can never go wrong while donning them.


1. What birthstone is Onyx?

Onyx is the birthstone for December. It is the stone for the Zodiac sign of Leo.

2. Which is the most valuable type of Onyx?

Black Onyx is more valuable than other available colours of Onyx.

3. Is Black Onyx toxic?

No, Black Onyx is not toxic.

4. Does Black Onyx need cleaning?

Yes, just like all other gemstones, even Black Onyx needs to be cleaned from time to time.

5. Is Onyx a type of Chalcedony?

Yes, Onyx gemstone is a type of Chalcedony.

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