Onyx, our alternative birthstone of the month, is a variety of microcrystalline quartz, called chalcedony and found worldwide. Onyx was used in Egypt as early as the Second Dynasty to make utilitarian items such as bowls. Today it is often used for ornamental carvings and jewelry. Onyx jewelry is commonly found with cut cabochons or beads. The piece we made with onyx features a faceted cut version.
The onyx is formed by deposits of silica in gas cavities found in lava and measures 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Because of the environment where the stone is formed, the term onyx actually refers to the layers of these beautiful stones. Each stone is composed of several layers usually having different colors. Onyx can therefore come in many color variations, most of the time though they come in a mixture of black, brown and white, as seen in our featured Lightyear necklace. A lot of the stones are stained to improve or change the color, and while the black-colored onyxes are the most well-known, they are also the less common ones and are almost always artificially colored to make them one uniform color.
In addition to being the alternative birthstone to amethyst in February, these beautiful gems are the anniversary stones for the 7th year of marriage and the black onyx specifically is the anniversary stone for the 10th year of marriage.
Besides being a very elegant stone used in fine jewelry, onyx have been used as heart, kidney, hair, nail and eye strengtheners. It has also been said that onyxes have the ability to reduce stress, apathy, neurological disorders and to help one sleep better.