Onyx is a gemstone variety of chalcedony. Black onyx is one of the most well known varieties, but it actually occurs in most colours, except for purple and blue.
Traditionally, onyx has been used to create items such as seals, cameos and stone inlays as far back as ancient Rome.
Interestingly, the name onyx is actually derived from the Greek ὄνυξ meaning ‘claw’ or ‘fingernail’. This is because the flesh coloured veins commonly found in the gem are said to resemble fingernails.
According to legend, this is because onyx was created when the goddess Venus was given a manicure by the side of the Indus River. As she lay resting, Cupid used the point of his enchanted arrow to trim her nails. When the heavenly trimmings fell into the river, they sank to the bottom and were transformed into onyx!
Thanks to its many colour ways and banding varieties, onyx is incredibly versatile. It works well with both gold and silver toned metals, and as an accent to other gems.
However, we think that the gorgeous detailing often found within onyx make it the ideal choice for statement pieces.
Onyx has been famously used in interior design to great effect. The architect Mies van der Rohe used slabs of onyx from the Atlas Mountains to create an impressive shimmering partly translucent interior wall in the Villa Tugendhat in Brno.
The mansion Hôtel de la Païva on the Champs-Élysées in Paris is also famous for its onyx interior. The mansion features a stunning staircase made from yellow onyx, and is thought to be the only one of it’s kind in the world.
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