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The Onyx

The Onyx | Photo: Deposit Photos

The onyx is an eye-catching, black, elegant, and mysterious gemstone.

Its chemical composition reveals a silica mineral that belongs to the quartz family.

Quartz is one of the most common minerals on Earth. The quartz family has two main categories:

  • Macrocrystalline quartz;
  • Microcrystalline quartz;

Macrocrystalline quartz includes aventurine, amethyst, citrine, and hawk’s eye.

Onyx belongs to the microcrystalline quartz category alongside jasper, sard, carnelian, and bloodstone.

Microcrystalline quartz features microscopically tiny crystals that are not visible to the naked eye.

Onyx is mined mainly in Brazil, Russia, India, Argentina, the United States, Mexico, Italy, Iran, and Switzerland.

The gem’s name derives from the Greek word “ὄνυξ,” meaning “fingernail” or “claw.”

Not Only Black

It is a stunning dark variety of quartz and sometimes displays a layered appearance that can be mistaken for agate.

The gem is generally black, but it is better to keep an eye out for dyed onyx.

Therefore, it is critical to have your onyx stone inspected by a gemologist before purchasing it, especially if it’s a gift for your loved ones.

The color is the best way to identify this gemstone, as it is often black However, it can be brown, orange, yellow, red, or blue and gray.

Examples of stones with a black base and nearly translucent bands are called Niccolo onyx.

On the other hand, onyx with a light or dark brown base is generally known as sardonyx; deep crimson red or red-orange base onyx is called carnelian onyx.

This magical gem is more than a gorgeous jewelry stone.

And like many other gemstones, it is believed to have incredible healing and spiritual properties.

Throughout history, people have worn onyx gemstones to be protected, feel better, deflect negativity, and change bad habits.

The black onyx is also worn to move away from our past and live in the moment.

Hated and Loved

There are many legends and tales about this striking gemstone.

The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used this black stone for carving.

In Chinese culture, onyx was believed to bring bad luck – they feared the evil eye, and nobody wanted to touch it because of this belief.

Onyx was mined by enslaved people and then exported and sold far from the Chinese borders.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Iranians and Indians believed that the gemstone would protect them from the evil eye.

Also, they used onyx during labor to relieve the pain of the woman giving birth.

In England, especially during the Victorian period, onyx was quite fashionable.

During Queen Victoria’s mourning, the British started wearing black to pay tribute to the monarch.

The colors we choose for our clothes and jewelry are relevant and tell a lot about our style and emotions.

Some people can be in fashion with all colors, but some choose to wear mostly black.

Onyx is a well-known gemstone for contemporary jewelry, mainly because its color suits any timeless style.

Onyx | Physical Properties

Chemical compound: Silicon dioxide
Hardness: 6.5 to 7
Color: Mostly black, brown, red, white, grayish blue, green
Crystal structure: Trigonal
Luster: Waxy to silky, glass-like when polished
Transparency: Translucent to opaque
Refractive index: 1.54-1.66
Density: 2.65-2.91
Cleavage: None


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