Onyx is a semi-precious gemstone and is a birthstone for the Leo. Black Onyx is regarded as anniversary gemstone for the 10th year of marriage. Onyx belongs to the variety of microcrystalline quartz, called as chalcedony. The name “chalcedony” is derived from the Calcedon or Chalcedon, which is an ancient port on the Sea of Marmara in Asia Minor. There were onyx seals popular with the Romans, who themselves carved the pattern of the seal in negative relief to give a raised point. It was often used as a stone with several layers possessing different colors, which were then individually carved to produce a different pattern each year. Onyx was used originally for a variety of marble having white and yellow veins. Onyx is the Greek word for “claw” or “fingernail” because the veins resemble the colors of a fingernail. The marble is still called as “onyx marble”, being less valuable and softer than onyx having a hardness rating of 7. Onyx was traditionally used for carving cameo brooches.
The myth regarding the onyx gemstone is that the goddess Venus was resting on the banks of Indus River and as she slept, Cupid used the point of one of his enchanted arrows to give her a manicure. The left part of her nail felt into the waters of the sacred river. Because the nails were of heavenly origin, they sank to the river bottom and were metamorphosed into the onyx.
Onyx is a protective stone. It is used as a defense against negativity consciously which is directed towards you. It is also used to reduce the uncontrollable sexual impulses. The close union and strong contrast exist between the layers of the black and white in some varieties of onyx which may suggest its connection with romance. In India, Onyx is recommended for protection from evil forces and also helps to master your destiny and strengthen your confidence. It can also help to transfer your energy during the difficult times.
Physical Properties and Science of Onyx
Onyx is a composition of silica in gas cavities found in lava which results in the distinctive bands or stripes we see in the stone. They have varied shades of red, orange, and brown. It is often alternate with striking bands of white. The banding in onyx is straight, and are either brown or black and white or curved bands occurring in the variety of quartz called as agate. Natural Black Onyx is difficult to find, so the commercial black variety is usually agate which is treated by the sugar-sulfuric acid treatment, soaked in sugar and then heated in sulfuric acid to carbonize the sugar.
Onyx can be found in Uruguay and bordering regions of Brazil, Afghanistan, India, and Madagascar. Sometimes it is also mined from California and northwest Mexico.
Caring for your Onyx Jewelry
The best way to clean your onyx gemstone is to wipe with a moist cloth. It is not recommended using any sort of ultrasonic cleaners or ammonia as the stones may be porous and therefore might absorb chemicals and soap can also build up inside the stone, causing discoloration.