Black onyx is one of the world’s most beloved gemstones. The first recorded reference to onyx occurs in the first book of the Bible, Genesis 2:12 which reads “and the gold of that land is good, there is bdellium and the onyx stone”. Onyx is mentioned again in the book of Revelation, where it is said to adorn the foundation of the city of Heaven. The onyx was The onyx was heralded by ancient Romans and Greeks, and in the 1st century, onyx was prescribed by Pliny the Elder, a naturalist and healer, in his Naturalis Historia. During the second dynastic period in Egypt, onyx was used to make pottery items, like bowls. Archaeological evidence from digs at Knossos indicates that this gem was used in Minoan Crete art.
Onyx is from the chalcedony quartz family, and is found in Brazil, Uruguay, India, and in California in the United States. Onyx has fine texture and black color, although some onyx displays ribbons of white on a black background. This variety of onyx is called sardonyx.
Where Does Black Onyx Come From?
Greek mythology holds that Cupid trimmed the nails of Venus, the goddess of love, while she was asleep. When the Fates found out, they turned those clippings into stone so as to prevent any part of the goddess from dying. Those stones were the first onyx gemstones. The reality is a bit more believable. Black onyx is formed in the gas cavities of volcanic lava. Scientifically, onyx is formed in alternating colored bands of chalcedony. Onyx is cryptocrystalline and consists of find inter-growths of moganite and quartz, both silica minerals. The bands in onyx run parallel to each other. The most beloved shade of these bands is black, although they do occur in other shades, including red. Since ancient times, artificial methods have been used to produce the favored black onyx color, although the majority of black onyx on today’s market has been artificially colored to take on its black hue.
Black onyx has been sought after historically for its use in jewelry-making and hard stone carving. Typically, it is cut as a cabochon or made into beads. Onyx has also been utilized for intaglio and for engraving cameos. Some onyx on today’s market is natural, but much of the material that is sold as onyx is actually stained agate.
Healing Powers of Black Onyx
Black onyx is the tenth year anniversary gemstone and is thought to make the wearer taken on a more eloquent demeanor. Onyx is also revered for ridding the wearer of negative thoughts, giving spiritual inspiration, and sharpening the wits. In Roman times, black onyx was synonymous with courage. As a healing stone, the black onyx is said to change the bad habits of the wearer, to promote heart and kidney healthy, help the wearer get a better night’s sleep, and to reduce stress and neurological disorders while assisting with the growth of hair and nails.
Black gemstones, including black onyx, are prized for their ability to create elegant and sophisticated jewelry. A few other gemstones occur in black, including sapphires, jet, spinel, tourmaline and diamond, and black onyx is the least costly and most common of them all.