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WHY CHOOSE ONYX?

October 1, 2020

Earth has a great diversity of natural rocks; each has its own story, properties, and range of uses. Though one of the most important stones in history, rooted in the tomes and tales of ancient Greek mythology, is onyx.

What exactly is Onyx?

Speaking geologically, onyx is formed by layered quartz and morganite silicate material called chalcedony. Interestingly enough, marble, travertine, and limestone are made of the same minerals, though develop under different environments and circumstances.

Impressive swirls, vibrant colors, and translucency denote this particular stone, even though most associate it with pitch blackness. For many centuries, it has been used mainly for jewelry, hardstone carving, and sculptures. Some people, even today, believe that onyx has mystical powers. No wonder why, even today, it remains one of the most desirable and sought-after materials in human history.

A beautiful baccarat Onyx Stone
Baccarat

How is it formed? 

Intrusive and metamorphic rocks like granite and marble come from the Earth’s crust, however, onyx spawns elsewhere. Spring water and groundwater often contain heavy calcite deposits, and when the water runs through a specified area frequently enough, or evaporates, it compounds these calcite deposits. They precipitate out and, while building countless smooth layers of calcite crystal, eventually go on to form onyx. 

 

What are the colors?

Generally, onyx forms in hues of white, brown, green and purple. However, the most common color is a honey-tinted shade which is made by deposits heavy in iron.  In regards to that classic black onyx we all love, the color is caused by an ultra-high silica composition. 

Where can it be found?

Onyx can be found In caves, but only in a few regions around the world. The Middle East, North Africa, and South America are among those sparse few. However, Canada and some places in the United States can also boast about having access to this precious and rare stone.

Properties and uses 

As a semi-precious stone, onyx was used for thousands of years to create jewelry, stamps, seals, amulets, and even statues of gods. Today, with advances in technology, we are finding more and more applications for this stone. However, onyx is not the most durable of stones: on the Mohs Scale, it taps out at around 7. Given the composition of onyx and its many, many tiny layers, it is also quite brittle and should not be incorporated into a space demanding of heavy or constant use.  Note that onyx is a stone in need of relatively consistent maintenance, especially when it comes to areas with high traffic like the kitchen or the flooring in halls.  As it were, this delicate nature, paired with its generally striking beauty, makes onyx that more unique and precious.

Consider something more gentle but still visible: fireplaces, backsplashes, bar tops, wall cladding - all perfect roles for such a glamorous stone.

Backlit Bathroom Onyx Tile Flooring - New York Stone
Backlit Bathroom Floor

The Legend of Onyx? 

Both Greeks and Romans believed that onyx was a nail clipping from Venus that fell into the Indus River, where it transformed into the precious stone. The word itself, "onyx", comes from the Greek language, meaning "fingernail" or "claw".

The ancient Romans also believed that sardonyx, a close relative of onyx, bestowed courage in battle, strengthened and protected the wearer. In Renaissance Europe people thought it gives its owner eloquence.

WHY CHOOSE ONYX?
WHY CHOOSE ONYX?
WHY CHOOSE ONYX?
WHY CHOOSE ONYX?
WHY CHOOSE ONYX?
WHY CHOOSE ONYX?