Looking for a new piece of jewelry that brings with it protective benefits? Consider the beautiful and powerful Onyx, a gemstone used throughout history for its healing and protecting properties.
1. What is Onyx Gemstone made from, in terms of natural chemical properties?
Onyx, whose name derives from the Greek word for “claw” or “nail”, is a variety of chalcedony. Chalcedony is a mixture of quartz and morganite. Onyx is often hexagonal in its microcrystalline state. Its luster is quite waxy with a hardness level of 7. In addition to being waxy, it offers opaque transparency.
Typically you find onyx in black, or white with bands, but there are some rare specimens that come in shades of brown, yellow, blue, or red layers too. The various bands or layers mean a singel gemstone can feature intricate color patterns.
Black and white layers of onyx are the most common, usually with a foundation layer in black and a white layer on top. This is commonly referred to as “Arabic onyx” or “true” onyx. You might see beautiful jewelry designed with a hand carved face or animal in white atop a black backdrop, which is crafted by carving away into the white top layer to expose part of the black base layer.
Onyx which is black at its base but with a very thin layer of white is referred to as “Nicolo onyx”. This variety has such a thin layer of white that it appears blue against its black base.
Onyx which features yellow, red, or brownish layers is commonly referred to as “Sardonyx” and it was quite common amongst European and Near East cultures. It, too, can be carved similarly, removing parts of top layers so that each layer below is exposed within the animal carving or design.
Plain black onyx can occur without any other color layers but it is rare. If you come upon a pure black stone without any other layers, it was likely dyed black to achieve the pure color.
2. Where is Onyx Gemstone found?
While Onyx has clearly existed all around the world for many centuries, today the gemstone is typically found across the United States, the UK, Latin America, Greece, Yemen, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, Yemen, and China.
3. When was Onyx Discovered?
If you will recall the Greek origins, it was originally believed that when Cupid shot his mother Venus with one of his love arrows, it cut through her fingernails. These fell from Mount Olympus to the Indus River below where they became the divine stones we now call onyx.
It has long been used for engravings, hard stone carvings, and jewelry, especially in the form of beads.
It has been used since ancient times. Many cultures believe that it could absorb your negative energy and in fact, the more negative energy it absorbed, the darker the colors became. Some say Cleopatra wore onyx jewelry in Ancient Egypt to protect her and alert her to oncoming dangers. However, it existed in Egypt long before Cleopatra. As early as the second Dynasty Onyx has been used in Pottery items and bowls. Sardonyx was discovered at the excavation sites in Knossos as part of the Minoan Crete art.
Brazilian green onyx has been used heavily throughout sculptures, dishes in Austria, and art deco creations particularly during the 1930s and 1940s. It has been around for so long that there are mentions of the word Onyx and sardonyx in the Christian Bible. Pliny the Elder used Onyx as one of his natural medicinal treatments making it well known throughout ancient Greece and ancient Rome.
Yellow onyx is featured heavily in the Mariinsky theater in St Petersburg and in the Hôtel de la Païva in Paris. Slabs of Onyx are perhaps most famous in the Throne of Jahangir made by the Mughal emperor in 1602 for whom it is named.This is currently held in India and is a large Onyx table that you can visit.
4. What is Onyx used for?
Historically, some believed that onyx stones had demons held within which would wake at night and try to break up relationships.
The ancient Romans believed that carrying sardonic amulets into war would help them because the amulets featured Mars, the God of War carved into them. Wearing these amulets provided Roman soldiers with courage.
In ancient Persia Onyx was used to treat epilepsy.
In ancient China it was believed that Onyx could protect the wearer, and provide you with determination and stamina.
In Renaissance Europe Onyx was associated with bestowing elegance on the wearer, so people would wear Onyx jewelry in order to increase their elegance.
During the Victorian period, it was believed that onyx represented sobriety and somberness, so it was the gemstone used for mourning jewelry.
Thereafter sardonyx was used by midwives in England to ease childbirth. When a woman went into labor they would place sardonyx jewelry or amulets between the mother's breasts.
Since then it has been commonly mixed with diamonds, set against gold or silver, and used in a variety of jewelry for men and women.
5. What are the healing benefits of Onyx?
Many people believe that onyx can be used to give strength to people during dark nights or lonely times, that it can offer some protective abilities like being able to tell whether your relationships will live into the future, or whether they have run their course.
It has been used for its ability to heal physical and emotional trauma, to provide stability in life, and to provide self-control. It is also thought by many to heighten your instincts, as it did with Cleopatra, to increase your happiness, and to aid you in changing bad habits.
Today it is believed to be a stone that helps you primarily in your mind. Some people wear Onyx jewelry so that they can improve their memory, bring balance to their mind, or reduce their stress. The idea that it can alleviate negative feelings remains pervasive in that wearing Onyx jewelry is still believed to help you keep pessimism away, to do away with negative thoughts.
The way in which Onyx jewelry was traditionally used throughout history to help with relationships, and particularly the way it was thought to break apart bad relationships, is still somewhat applicable; wearers believe that Onyx jewelry can help you figure out whether your relationship is an unhappy one and then do away with unhappy relationships of any kind.
The notion of Onyx as a mourning gemstone is still somewhat prevalent as well. People believe that wearing Onyx, especially black onyx, can help you deal with grief, separation, or even death. Wearing Onyx jewelry can help enhance your feelings of protection just like Cleopatra enjoyed while easing your feelings of sorrow or loneliness.
Wearing Onyx around your neck as a necklace is thought to help you master your emotions and reduce feelings of lust. The idea of Onyx jewelry as a gemstone that can help you improve your control is especially applicable to modern Onyx necklaces.
6. Is Onyx expensive?
Onyx is a very flexible stone in that you can invest in Onyx jewelry or Onyx carvings no matter your budget. Some pieces are considered more expensive, especially if they are historical pieces or they are carved intricately. Newer pieces made into beads for necklaces, bracelets, or rings, are traditionally more affordable options. In fact, you can even invest in Onyx costume jewelry and pair them with other beaded gemstone items at a fairly affordable price.
You can wear Onyx jewelry today in many forms. Onyx rings might feature a single piece of the gemstone set around diamonds or simply set into a gold band.
If you're looking for something more playful and flexible, something you can wear to an evening out with your friends, on a date, or at the office, beaded jewelry comes in many forms, particularly necklaces and bracelets. You can find small Onyx gemstone beads or large Onyx gemstone beads.
You can even find necklaces where gemstone amulets featuring Onyx are the centerpiece.
7. How do I take care of my onyx?
Once you invest in Onyx jewelry, it's important to take good care of it so that you can continue to reap the healing benefits it offers. It is a relatively hard gemstone which means it won't scratch easily if you just graze your arm against a doorway, but if you hit it hard it can chip or crack. It's best that you wash it regularly with warm water and a soft soap and then dry it thoroughly. This is the easiest way to keep your Onyx jewelry clean.