We take a look into the history and myths behind onyx meaning; a unique layered variety of chalcedony. Shop all onyx jewellery.


What is onyx?

Onyx is a semi-precious banded variety from the chalcedony family. Onyx is similar to agate, as they both are layered varieties of chalcedony, however agate has curved bands and onyx has straight parallel bands. Black onyx is the most famous variety, and the colours of its bands range from white to almost every colour. The word onyx comes from the Greek word meaning ‘claw’ or ‘fingernail’, and the name is reference to the stone’s weak transparency.

The onyx gemstone has had a long history, being used for hardstone carving and jewellery; it was used in Egypt as far back as the Second Dynasty to make bowls and other items of pottery. Throughout history and cultures all over the world, they have built up varied beliefs and views on the onyx meaning, and we explore a few of them.  

Venice Scaramuccia Onyx Ring

Onyx meaning

For centuries there has been a range of myths and opinions what the true onyx meaning is and what it can bring to the wearer.

Greek legend suggests that while Venus was sleeping, Eros, the Greek god of love, Gaia Black Onyx Ringdecided to cut her fingernails and left the clippings scattered all over the ground. Because they believed no part of the heavenly body should die, Moirae (the goddess who controlled destiny) was said to have turned the clippings into onyx. The stone was used in homes by the Romans to decorate their interiors, where carving the stone in to seals and cameos was very popular.

In India, the onyx meaning is linked to helping the concentration levels of absent-minded people, calming a stressful and chaotic life and dampening the ardours of love. Another common onyx meaning is that the stone has an ability to assist and help with big challenges in life, particularly those caused by a drain of energy. It helps raise the wearer’s persistence and resistance, and in doing so, enables them to focus on the task in hand and carry it through to completion.  

You might not know...

When we think of onyx, most will think of a black stone, however there is a variety of onyx that is reddish brown in colour with white and lighter reddish bands. It is known as sardonyx. 

Rated as 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, onyx is a very good stone for use in carving.

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