Gemstone Guide: Black Onyx

Gemstone Guide: Black Onyx

We’re back with another installment in our popular gemstone guide series. In the past, we’ve written all about: amethyst, turquoise, amber, red jasper, Larimar, opal, and sodalite.

Today we’ll be talking about black onyx. Many people think about bright colors when choosing jewelry. However a deep, dark, and mysterious piece of black onyx can be a stunning choice, too! Keep reading to learn more about the mythology and history of onyx, as well as see a few of our favorite pieces of black onyx jewelry.


Black OnyxOnyx is a close “relative” of agate, another popular stone. Both are recognizable by the bands and layers that make up their structure. It’s these layers, that make every piece of onyx unique and give the stone its color.

Weirdly enough, the word “onyx” itself comes from the Greek word for fingernail! Historians think that the earliest pieces of onyx were a tan or off-white color, like a fingernail. But legend has it that Cupid tried to use his arrows to give Venus a manicure and her nails fell into a river and became onyx!

Today, however, black onyx is by far the rarest and most valued color of the stone. Sardonyx is another beautiful variant of onyx known for its brilliant red coloring. Green and white onyx are also used in jewelry.

Onyx is also notable because it can be found all over the world. While Larimar can only be found in a few countries, onyx is found on every continent!

Historical Use

Black Onyx in Ancient EgyptArcheologists have found that ancient Egyptians used onyx used to make bowls and jewelry over 4,000 years ago! Ancient Greeks and Romans used brilliant pieces of onyx as part of their healing therapies.

But onyx wasn’t just popular in ancient times! The Hôtel de la Païva, one of the most famous hotels in Paris (built around 1860) used yellow onyx throughout its decor. Plus, art deco artists used Brazilian green onyx in their sculptures during the 1920s and 1930s.

Beyond its beauty, black onyx has been popular with jewelers because it is a stone that is easily workable. It rates a 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning it is easy to carve and shape, but also durable enough to be worn as jewelry.

Today, black onyx is used on many different types of jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, and rings! Keep reading the rest of this post and you’ll find out about some of our favorite pieces of black onyx jewelry.

Mystical Powers

The Magic of Black OnyxBut like many of our favorite gemstones, onyx isn’t just known for its beauty! Throughout history, healers and mystics have believed it to hold magical powers.

For example, ancient Roman warriors carried red onyx amulets to honor the God of War who would protect them during battle. Onyx has long been thought to be an omen of:

  • Good luck
  • Happiness
  • Fortune and wealth
  • Strength and stamina

Many people believe that black onyx can be used to draw out negative memories and help them forget painful times in their past. Additionally, the dark color of black onyx is thought to absorb negative energy, thoughts, and emotions, leaving the wearer happier and more carefree.

Additional Significance

Leo the LionToday, we use black onyx to represent the birthstone for Leos (July 23 – August 22) as well as to honor the 10th year of marriage.

Caring For Black Onyx Jewelry

Taking care of your onyx jewelry isn’t difficult. But here are a few things you can do to keep it looking beautiful!

  1. Avoid submerging your onyx jewelry in water. So take it off when swimming, showering, or doing the dishes. Too much water can actually make your black onyx fade.
  2. Polish onyx with a soft cloth and use a drop olive oil to make it really shine!
  3. Don’t let two pieces of black onyx rub together. This can lead to chips and scratches.

Our Favorite Pieces of Black Onyx Jewelry

We love onyx jewelry that features black onyx! It pairs wonderfully with .950 Mexican silver. The local Mexican artists we partner with use black onyx in many of their most stunning pieces. A few of our favorites include:


Frida Kahlo Black Onyx JewelryFrida Kahlo inspired ornate filigree jewelry design with several inlay options!


Pre Colombian Black Onyx StyleAuthentic Pre-Columbian Motif Necklace with inlay options!


Beaded Onyx NecklaceVintage style elegant necklace with onyx inlays!


3-Piece Black Onyx Jewelry SetIncredible necklace, bracelet, and earring set made from .950 silver with black onyx inlay!


Black Onyx Belladonna RingAmazing Mexican silver ring with niello finish and stunning black onyx inlay!

Photo Credits: Wikipedia, Wikipediapaweesit via VisualHunt / CC BY-NDVisual hunt

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