Let's Talk About Beads 101: Onyx

Hey 👋🏾, fellow jewelry enthusiasts! If you are new here, we use our blog – Delightful Gems – to share knowledge about different aspects of our handmade jewelry business.

This article is a continuation of our Let’s Talk About Beads 101 series – where we are providing information about the various semiprecious gemstones we create our jewelry with. This time around, we are talking about Onyx. 

Onyx belongs to the chalcedony family, a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz. Onyx has a multi-layered structure that is similar to that of agates. When the stone has a black base and a white upper layer, it's called "true" onyx. Uniformly black chalcedony is referred to as black onyx; however, most black onyx is grey chalcedony that has been chemically treated to obtain the rich black color. When the base layer is brown, it is called sardonyx. Carnelian-onyx has a red base. 

Onyx is found worldwide. Brazil supplies the best multicolored raw onyx. Grey chalcedony is found in India and China.

The name "onyx" has roots in ancient Greek, where it translates to "claw" or "fingernail." This refers to the translucence of the white-colored layer of this multi-layered stone.

Onyx is a durable jewelry stone. It has a hardness rating of 7 on the Mohs scale. This means it can resist scratching, chips, and physical impact very well. Because of its hardness and durability, it should be kept away from other gemstones and jewelry to prevent scratching softer materials.

Black onyx is thought to have protective qualities, making it favorable to carry when traveling. It is said to be useful in fighting basic fears and to heal old emotional wounds. The Romans associated onyx with courage and it is thought to be useful when one is defending him/herself against unfair criticism.


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