For a personalized customer service we are here for you by phone at +33 549 411 819 or by email at

Home > Onyx

Onyx : Discover its characteristics and our selection of onyx jewelry

Name and characteristics of the Onyx

Onyx is a variety of chalcedony or more precisely an agate with white, black or brown stripes with sometimes strong contrasts between the areas.

It is the Greeks who gave it its name, "onuks", which means nail. This name comes from a mythological story: Cupid would have cut the nails of Venus with an arrow while she was sleeping. Her nails, fallen in the sand, would have been transformed into stone, the onyx. Thereafter, all nail colors were called onyx, until the Romans who reduced the term to black and brown.

Widely used in antiquity, onyx was one of the king gems for cameo engraving and onyx jewelry sets.

It was in the 1930s, when the Art Deco period was in full swing, that onyx, and particularly black onyx, was given pride of place by the greatest jewelers such as Cartier and Tiffany, who used it in numerous creations.

A flagship gem of high jewelry, it is now frequently found on the most beautiful models of the great houses.

Various varieties of Onyx

Expert gemologists differentiate between completely black onyx or banded onyx, which is often used for engraving. Composed of overlapping layers of black or brown and white, it is interesting for lapidary craftsmen to play with the contrast this stone offers.

There are also other varieties, such as sardonyx, which is brown to red, or eye onyx, whose circular layers form an eye.

Onyx care

Onyx is a fairly strong stone, ranked 7 on the Mohs scale.

However, it is sensitive to high heat and chemicals. Avoid exposing it to intense heat sources or to your cosmetics and household products as much as possible.

It can be scratched or chipped. When not wearing your onyx jewelry, store it in a case or cloth to avoid contact with other jewelry.

You can easily clean your onyx jewelry with warm water and soap (PH neutral), remember to rinse well and then dry them to avoid the deposit of limestone that would alter their shine. You can finish by polishing the stones with a soft cloth.

Stories and beliefs about Onyx

In the past, beliefs and stories about onyx were often associated with hatred, anger and torment due to its black color.

In the Middle East, this gem was nicknamed "El Jaza" meaning "sadness".

Depending on the region of the world, beliefs and traditions this black gem was considered protective or conversely associated with evil. The Indians, for example, thought that this stone had the power to protect against evil and to reduce pain.

In Asian countries, onyx was considered a bad luck charm. Even miners did not want to go near the stone because of the risk of attracting the evil eye. The stone was therefore mined for foreign countries.

Onyx was popularized by Queen Victoria in the 1800s. She wore this stone for 40 years of her life. Today, onyx is prized in jewelry, for pendants, earrings and bracelets.

Onyx deposits throughout the world

Onyx mines are found mainly in Brazil, Mexico, India, Madagascar and Uruguay. But other, smaller deposits have been discovered. It is a stone that is quite rare in nature.

Famous Onyx

Several art objects made of onyx are famous. Among them, one can admire the largest cameo known in the world of 31x26 cm in the Cabinet des médailles in Paris, dating from the 1st century A.D. including the Apotheosis of Augustus.

Another great work carved in a single block of sardonyx is the cup of Ptolemy, known as the vase of Saint-Denis, visible in the same place. 

Choose your Onyx jewel

Onyx gives the jewelry an intense black color and a particularly brilliant shine. It can be found in the very elegant Art Deco rings or set on antique necklaces from the 19th century. Very elegant, it will seduce you by its beauty and its exceptional brilliance.

Discover our precious collection of Onyx Jewelry antique or creation

BAUME Jewelry is also:

100% secure



with insurance

or refunded


by our Gemologists
and Approved Experts

of authenticity

issued for each jewel