Posted on by Nevil Agrawal

Onyx is a timeless gemstone that carries a history dating back to ancient times. One of the most versatile gemstones, onyx, has been and is still being actively used in jewelry and carvings. During a particular period in history, onyx used to be incredibly valuable. Fast-forward to today, its importance hasn’t faded away, and is one of the most affordable gemstones that can suit any budget.

Onyx stone is incorporated in luxury pieces by some of the world’s most luxurious jewelry brands. The elegant and sophisticated black hue of onyx gemstone blends well with all outfits and any occasion. To be in sync with all the current fashion trends can be tiring. But with onyx as part of your jewelry collection, you can never go wrong! Irrespective of the fashion trend, you will always be able to rock your onyx pieces.

Before you purchase onyx, there are some things you must keep in mind. Our comprehensive buying guide encompasses all the necessary information that you would require when purchasing onyx. These tips will also help you make the right purchase decision and choose the perfect onyx for your jewelry.



What is Onyx?


Onyx stone comes from a silicate mineral, chalcedony, which is mostly made of calcite. It is a variety of layered chalcedony, which is itself a form of microcrystalline quartz, similar to agate. Onyx and agate differ only in the formation of their bands. While agate comes in curved bands, onyxes have straight, nearly parallel bands or layers of color. This unique trait allows skilled gem carvers to cut away the excess material and produce extraordinary depth and contrast. Due to its contrasting layers of color, onyx is one of the most important and popular engraving gemstones. One popular usage of onyx stone was to cut cameos and intaglios. With a hardness reading of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale, onyx is a durable stone and easy to maintain.


Where is onyx found?


Onyx is found in many parts of the world, including Australia, China, Indonesia, India, Algeria, Arizona, and Mexico. Onyx gemstones are found primarily in caves. In Algeria, there’s one such cave that is located in Ain Tekbalet. There are also several other countries where you can find onyx caves.


Types of Onyx:


  1. Arabic Onyx: A white upper layer with a black base color—onyxes that match these criteria are known as “true” or “Arabic onyx.” Although there are several other varieties of onyxes that occur with alternating bands of various colors, the most popular ones are white and black layered ones.
  2. Black Onyx: A typical variety of onyx, the black onyx is the most popular variant amongst the rest. The stone’s uniqueness lies in its appearance; it has only black color throughout and no other color banding. Its popularity also indicates that it is very rarely found in nature.
  3. Cornelian Onyx: Cornelian onyx is a variety of onyx with a red base color and lighter color bands or a white upper layer. Cornelian onyx’s alternating red and white bands make them look extremely appealing.
  4. Nicolo Onyx: This variant of onyx comes with a very thin layer of white against a black base color. This thin white layer can appear almost blue against a pure black base color, allowing the black base layer to be seen through as grey or blue.
  5. Sardonyx: The traditional August birthstone, onyx with white and reddish, brownish, or yellow layers, is known as sardonyx. Usually flat banded, sardonyx has a brown base with color bands in red. Sardonyx is a relatively common and affordable variety of onyx.


The Three C’s of Onyx:

Whether it is purchasing an onyx gemstone or jewelry piece online or at a store, certain important factors determine the value of onyx stone:

Color: Most people think onyx is only found in solid black, but in fact, it comes in a variety of colors. However, the most popular variety is solid black, followed by banded black and white.  As mentioned earlier in the different variants of onyx, it typically occurs in banded alternating colors. Onyxes with a brown base layer, a lighter upper layer, or a red base layer are some other popular banded onyx varieties . Depending on these banded alternating color variations, onyx is categorized. Onyx comes mainly in three colors (or color combinations): black, black and white, and grey and white.

Clarity: Generally, onyx gemstones have little to no impurities, which give them high levels of quality. They have a shiny to dull luster and are hence opaque. So, when buying onyx, ensure that the luster is uniform and smooth. Look for a gemstone with minimal cracks or inclusions. 

Cut: Onyx stones can be cut into a range of shapes such as pear, oval, emerald, square, marquise, round, or trillion. But to maximize the luster, onyx gemstones are often cut or faceted into smooth, glossy cabochons. Onyx also lends itself well for carvings as it is a relatively soft gemstone and is hence popular in the making of cameo jewelry.  Apart from the ring metal and design of black onyx rings, the value of an onyx jewelry piece also depends on how the gemstone is cut, carved, and set. When compared to a conventional cut and calibrated size stone, onyx stones provided with custom cuts, detailed carvings, and settings tend to have a higher price tag. For example, the checkerboard cut or faceted onyx, which displays incredible surface luster, will fetch a higher price for its cutting crafts than a regular same-sized onyx.

Treatments of Onyx:


To enhance the color for even saturation, almost all black onyx in the market is dyed. The dyeing process is a common industry-standard and well accepted in the jewelry market. It certainly does not impact the value or durability of the stone. However, it’s your vendor’s responsibility to let you know that such treatments are done on your onyx gemstone before you purchase it. Other enhancement methods commonly carried out on onyx include heat treatments . Chalcedony easily absorbs the dye and gives the stone a uniform color.


How to take care of onyx?


On par with the hardness rating of quartz, onyx is a relatively hard stone with a ranking of 7 Mohs. Any gemstone with a ranking below 7 can easily be scratched, even by dust. Onyx owes its toughness to its composition, but when dealt with a hard blow, it can crack or chip. Hence to clean onyx, it is not recommended to use ultrasonic cleaners as they can damage the gemstone. Instead, use soap and warm water with a soft brush to wash the stone. Make sure the soap residue is rinsed off, and the stone is dried thoroughly after the wash. Also, keep onyx away from chemicals such as bleach, harsh detergents, and cosmetics. When engaging in outdoor/physical activities or handling any sort of chemicals, it is always better to take off any onyx jewelry. While involving in any strenuous activities, protect onyx from knocks and bumps. When compared to onyx earring or pendants, onyx rings are likely to be more exposed. Hence, these precautions apply more to onyx rings. Storing your onyx gemstone properly is also equally important to keep it free of dust. Wrap your onyx stone in a velvet or cotton cloth, and store it separately to prevent it from being scratched by other items.



Meaning of onyx stone and uses:


Onyx helps reduce stress, improves memory, and brings balance. Hence it is believed to be a stone for the mind. It helps keep pessimistic thoughts away and also deals with unhappy relationships. It has been a highly valued stone for treating neurological disorders. Many people also believe that black onyx heals grief. It assists you in dealing with the loss of your loved ones or separation.

  • It enhances positive vibes, emotions of love, and a feeling of protection.
  • Onyx stone helps ease your loneliness and sorrow.
  • Back in the time, onyx was also believed to be able to heal wounds and various skin diseases.
  • Onyx is also believed to give a person mastery over his/her emotions.
  • As an important stone in crystal healing, onyx is believed to align you to a higher power, giving you strength and center energies.


Onyx metaphysical properties:


  • According to individuals’ personal experiences with the stone, onyx is believed to have different healing properties. Whether these healing properties actually have an effect is  yet to be proved.
  • People looking to recover from unrequited love, the onyx stone has the power to help you out.
  • Be it during childbirth or for temper control, onyx is believed to possess mysterious healing properties.
  • For anyone with a negative thought process and for people who think they are surrounded by negativity, onyx helps get rid of it.
  • Along with reducing sexual desires, onyx also helps strengthen the heart.
  • Onyx is also believed to bring along more stamina and self-control to the person who possesses it.


Onyx Birthstone:


While black onyx is the birthstone for the December-born, it also the birthstone for the zodiac sign Leo. Traditionally, onyx is considered as a perfect 7th anniversary gift, while a black onyx is given as a 10th anniversary gift.



Where should you buy onyx gemstones?


When purchasing onyx online or any gemstone for that matter, one needs to always ensure that the purchase is being made from a trustworthy source. The after-sales policies, customer reviews, and quality of the product certainly matter and must be looked into before purchase. Also, purchase from a store that allows easy returns so you can buy without any risk. So, if you’re still skeptical about where to buy onyx online, your hunt ends here. We at GemsforJewels, offer natural onyx of the highest quality. These stones can be bought loose, as cabochons and strands, or as connectors, rosary chains, or just loose stones; there are many varieties for you to choose from. We also offer different shapes to pick from, including bead, heart, cube, and 8 other appealing shapes. This is your one-stop shop to pick high-quality natural onyx gemstone.


*Disclaimer: Any of the claims related to the healing benefits, uses, and metaphysical properties of this or any other gemstone are not guaranteed or validated by this Gemstone Guide. All the information provided in this guide should in no way be used as a substitute or alternative for medical advice.*