A Writers Guide to Onyx

black onyx

black onyx

Onyx is a form of chalcedony with banded strips of color that are typically parallel to each other. If the word chalcedony sounds familiar, it’s because bloodstonecarnelian, and jasper (previously featured here) are different forms of it.

Though the color of bands in onyx comes in a huge range of colors including white, purple, and blue, the most common type is the black or black and white variety. Sardonyx is onyx with bands of sard producing various shades of red.

The word onyx comes from the Latin onyx (or onux) meaning “claw” or “fingernail.” The flesh colored onyx is supposed to resemble a fingernail.

History and Lore

  • An interesting little factoid is that both black onyx and sardonyx have been artificial treated to produce the black and the reds in their respective stones since ancient times.
  • Onyx is considered a strong stone for healing as well as a strong stone for protection.
The Gemma Augustea

The Gemma Augustea

Famous Onyx and Sardonyx

  • The Great Cameo of France: the largest surviving ancient cameo dating to 23 CE, it’s carved from five-layer sardonyx and has twenty-four figures on three levels.
  • The Gemma Augustea | Gem of Augustus: a cameo carved from Arabian onyx thought to have been made by Dioscurides, a Roman physician, pharmacologist and botanist or one of his associates in the 1st century CE., it had twelve figures.
  • The Fabergé Trans-Siberian Railway Egg: created in 1900 for Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and made of onyx, silver, gold, and quartz.

Magical and Mystical Properties include

  • promoting a balance between mind and body
  • increasing energy
  • aiding in promoting comfort with oneself
  • promoting healthy eyes, teeth, blood, and bone marrow
  • sardonyx


    black onyx

    • increases stamina
    • onyx water relieves skin irritation and sunburns (bathe or dab on skin)
    • releasing negative energy
    • protection from would-be attackers
    • aiding in psychic connections
    • aiding in changing habits
    • warding off the evil eye
  • sardonyx
    • boosting the immune system
    • strengthening the mind
    • improving happiness
    • bringing stability to relationships
    • aiding in communication

This stone should be worn over a long period of time as its power builds slowly. It’s known to increase the power of other stones.

Discharging & Recharging

To discharge onyx, place it under running water once a week. If used for a long period of time, place it in the earth overnight once a month. (In stone therapy, when using stones to heal, their energy is used up, requiring the stones to be recharged.)

This is a reference for fiction writers and should not be taken as medical or spiritual advice.

gemstone index

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  1. I’m afraid the only onyx I’m familiar with is the Pokemon. 😛

    1. I had to look him up. Is he the evolved one? – See I’m trying to sound all knowledgeable and stuff.

  2. Beautiful rocks. And related to bloodstone? Such a cool name for a stone.

  3. Wow the black onyx looks amazing! Beautiful.

  4. I have a lovely little onyx bowl that is whitish/clear with a beautiful rusty coloured stripe around its perimeter. Thanks for the info about this stone!

    1. Wow, it sounds gorgeous!

  5. I’ve got to get me some Onyx to promote comfort with myself. Some help with my bones and teeth wouldn’t hurt either!

  6. I can’t believe how beautiful it is. Are you going to do a similar feature this year on A-Z?

    1. Na. I’ll sit it out. I’m determined to get something done this year! I may take April off of blogging.

  7. I’ve never used a stone for healing, maybe I should…..

  8. What an interesting stone! I love that picture of the black and white spiral at its center 🙂


  9. Interesting information, as always. Don’t have any pieces made from onyx.

  10. I need more energy. A happy week to you 🙂

  11. I love these posts about gemstones. The tidbit about putting the stone in the earth overnight gave me a great idea for a story! Thank you 🙂

    1. Very cool.

  12. Hi, Holly,

    Wow, I remember these stone posts from your A-Z challenge a few years ago.LOVE them… thanks for bringing them back. I find stone-ology mystifying….

    I hope all is well and 2013 is a wonderful year for you!

  13. I love the black one, even if it does remind me of a squished penguin. 🙂

    1. Ha! That is does.

  14. How timely! I’ve been making black onyx pendants for a giveaway for my book. Loved this post!

  15. Hi Holly .. love the photos and descriptions of the strength of Onyx … the name always conjures up magic to me …

    I enjoy these ‘stone’ posts … fascinating to read and learn about .. cheers Hilary

  16. Cool. I’d only heard of the black onyx before. Didn’t know it came in colors. And now, after reading that black onyx is used to protect against attackers, I may have one of the bards give my main character an onyx amulet for protection. Thanks for the info. :))

  17. I always think of onyx as black, possibly because my grandpa (the rock hound) seemed to have a fair bit of that. I like, though, the use Game of Thrones is making of it–the dragon glass that can kill the white walkers. Not sure if you read those, but this is a detail I spotted at once with my wee bit of rock history.

  18. The red one is beautiful! I’ve always been fascinated with Onyx. It’s so cool looking.

  19. Thanks for the rundown on the stones. I have a character that’s all spiritual and stuff. I may use some of this in one of my books.

  20. Fascinating. I love the Onyx – especially the black.

  21. I’ve always loved the banding in onyx. Such a beautiful stone.

  22. The onyx looks really beautiful.

  23. I love the first stone. So pretty.

    Hey, dig me, I’m able to comment now on your blog. Woohoo!

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