Onyx comes through Latin (of the same spelling), from the Greek ὄνυξ, meaning "claw" or "fingernail". Onyx with flesh-colored and white bands can sometimes resemble a fingernail. The English word "nail" is cognate with the Greek word.
Onyx is a gemstone found in various regions of the world including Yemen, Uruguay, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Latin America, the UK, and various states in the US.
It has a long history of use for hardstone carving and jewelry, where it sis usually cut as cabochon, or into beads.
The name "onyx" comes from the Greek word for "fingernail," referring to the translucence of the white-colored layer of this multi-layered stone. According to myth, Cupid trimmed the nails of the sleeping goddess Venus. The Fates turned those clippings into stone to prevent even a part of Venus from dying.
The Romans were experts at glyptography (the carving of layered stones to reveal different colors) and crafted beautiful seals from onyx (white layer over black base) and sardonyx (white layer over reddish-brown base). The patterns were cut in negative relief. Engravings with a negative picture are called intaglios and those with raised image are cameos. In the Middle East, onyx was associated with sorcerers.
The rock that is offered in the trade as onyx marble is a limestone formed by the minerals calcite or aragonite. It must not be confused with chalcedony-onyx. It is incorrect to name this rock onyx without the addition of the word marble. Onyx marble is formed from lime- containing water by layered deposits (therefore always banded) near warm springs or as stalactites or stalagmites in caves. Deposits are found in Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Morocco, Mexico, and the United States. It is used for ornamental objects such as pendants and brooches. Dyeing produces a variety of colors.
Black Onyx Metaphysical Properties
Black has been associated with regeneration and new beginnings. Black Onyx is though by some to have protective qualities make it advantageous to carry when traveling. It is said to be useful in fighting fears and helping to move beyond bad relationships, as well as to heal old emotional wounds.The Romans associated Onyx with courage and it is thought to be useful when one is defending him/her self against unfair criticism.
While ruby is the birthstone for July, black onyx is an alternative stone for the month and is associated with the Babylonian Zodiac sign of Capricorn.
Proper care of Black Onyx
Black Onyx can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Avoid exposure to household chemicals and extreme heat.
Because of the hardness (6 1/2 - 7 Moh's scale) and durability of Onyx, it should be kept away from other gemstones and jewelry to avoid scratching softer materials.
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