THE NAILS OF VENUS
This week I thought it’d be fun to learn about the gemstone Onyx. Most of the following info came from the International Gem Society (with tidbits from others).
But first, an apology. Much to my chagrin, I’ve been made aware by a reader of erroneous facts in my pearl blog. In my defense, I drew those inaccuracies from a source that I have since learned had not fact checked their own statements. For now, rest assured that sand is NOT involved in the creation of pearls, natural or cultured! SOooo, I’m digging deeper, learning a great deal, and will soon put out a shiny, new model with more interesting and accurate details!
Ok, back to onyx.
The word ONYX is derived from the Greek word for fingernail or claw. The myth says that Cupid cut Venus’ nails with an arrow while she slept. The nails fell to the bottom of the river Indus and morphed into onyx! (So now you know why nail salons like to use the name ‘Venus,’ lol!) Despite the fear associated with it, especially in ancient China, it has become a very popular gemstone. In many cultures is was actually worn as protective battle amulet.
Onyx is a type of chalcedony - which is a form of quartz - and occurs in a wide variety of mineral environments world-wide. It is distinguished by straight, nearly parallel layers of color. This structure allows extremely skilled carvers to cut away the minute layers to create intricate cameos and designs. Many sources (including the IGS) consider agates and onyxes both banded varieties of chalcedony with agates having concentric or curved bands and onyxes straight or nearly parallel bands, regardless of band/layer color.
The stones with black and white layers are known as ‘true’ or ‘arabic’ onyx. Sardonyx (one of my favorites) is onyx whose layers are white, reddish, brownish, or yellow.
Onyxes durability make them a great stone choice for jewelry. During the Victoria Grand period (1861-1885) they became very popular, especially for mourning jewelry. It lends elegance to jewelry pieces with it's ability to complement any color.
Black onyx is so often dyed that you can consider almost any totally black onyx as color treated. Because chalcedony is extremely porous, it readily accepts dye. This however, means you should be careful cleaning it mechanically or ultrasonically.
Now for the attributes. As stated earlier, it is considered protective and is said to absorb negative energy, strengthening confidence and enhancing decision making. It is mentioned in the Bible books of Genesis and Exodus.
I have several pieces made from black onyx and even one with ‘green onyx’ which is actually dyed chalcedony. Any set below is 10% off until 11:59 pm on October 7th! Just click on a pic (haha, that rhymes) for more info and bigger photos.