Onyx July Birthstone

 

onyx mineral sphere

Onyx Properties and Meaning


Onyx is a natural stone that's used for a wide variety of different purposes including kitchen worktops, fireplace surrounds, household furniture and ornaments.  The finest grade material is cut and polished in order to be used for gemstones.  Although often described as a type of chalcedony, it's actually a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz or agate that's made up of bands of quartz and chalcedony.  Stones can exhibit contrasting colours and attractive banding which made it popular with the Romans who used it for seals and cameos.  They considered it to be an ideal lapidary material and it was often dyed black.  Many people are unaware that the vast majority of black onyx is dyed.

In his encyclopedia Naturalis Historia (circa 77-79 AD) the Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about techniques used to dye onyx.  Although it does occur naturally, black onyx is extremely rare which is why the vast majority of stones are dyed.  In addition to black, onyx is also dyed many other colours because it retains artificial colour particularly well. 

The history of this naturally occurring mineral can be traced back much further than Ancient Rome and is believed to have been one of the gemstones in the High Priest's breastplate, a religious garment worn during biblical times by the Jewish High Priest.  It's believed to have been the second stone in the fourth row with beryl to its left and jasper to its right. 

In crystal healing it's said to be useful for dealing with grief, strengthening self control and for stimulating the power of good decision making.  It is also beneficial for self confidence, stamina, phobias, controlling sexual desire and for balancing the yin yang as well as encouraging happiness and luck.

Birthstone for July along with the gemstone ruby, onyx is a relatively hard stone which grades 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

 

 

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Further Reading

Information from Wikipedia