Moh's Hardness: 7
Gem grade onyx is usually highly lustrous and opaque black, and is often cut as a cabochon, tablet or bead. It can also be faceted and set into various jewellery pieces but is best used for special occasion pieces rather than wedding and engagement, due to its limited hardness.
Onyx was an important gem to the ancients who revered it as a precious stone, often using it for intaglio and elaborate cameo carvings that were set into jewellery. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also used it to make bowls and vessels. Onyx was notably used by the famous architect Mies van der Rohe in 1930 to create a translucent interior wall for his Villa Tugendhat.
While some cultures such as the Arabs and Chinese believe onyx to be unlucky, others assign many positive and powerful properties to the stone. It is said to alleviate fear and anxiety and assist with childbirth. It’s black colour made it popular for mourning jewellery during the Victorian period, along with jet.
The best way to care for your onyx jewellery is to be aware of its relative softness and to treat it carefully. As it is porous, avoid soaking it for long periods and do not expose it to harsh chemicals. Take it off when showering and bathing. Use a dry soft cloth to clean it and store away from other jewellery items in a box to avoid scratching.