Black Onyx stone

Onyx is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color (save some shades, such as purple or blue). Commonly, specimens of onyx available contain bands of colors of white, tan, and brown.

Onyx comes through Latin: onyx, from the Greek ὄνυξ onyx meaning 'claw' or 'fingernail'. With its fleshtone color, onyx can be said to resemble a fingernail. The English word 'nail' is cognate with the Greek word.

Sardonyx is a variant in which the colored bands are sard (shades of red) rather than black. Pure black onyx is common, and perhaps the most famous variety, but not as common as onyx with banded colors.

The name has sometimes been used, incorrectly, to label other banded lapidary materials, such as banded calcite found in Mexico, Pakistan, and other places, and often carved, polished and sold. In the Bible, it is known as the 11th stone of the breastplate (Hoshen/Choshen) worn by the high priest while performing the duties of his office. It is the stone of the tribe of Joseph son of Jacob who is a type for Christ in forgiving his brethren who persecuted him. This material is much softer than true onyx, and much more readily available. The majority of carved items sold as 'onyx' today are this carbonate material.
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