Onyx is the birthstone for Leos and the anniversary gemstone for the 7th year of marriage. Black Onyx is the anniversary gemstone for the 10th year of marriage. Onyx is a variety of the microcrystalline quartz, called chalcedony. The name “chalcedony” comes from Calcedon or Calchedon, an ancient port on the Sea of Marmara in Asia Minor.
Ornamental materials were once mined in that area and it was an active center for trading various stones. Onyx were used widely in the past as bases and handles for gold items, as well as for stone inlay work. Onyx seals were very popular with the Romans, who carved the pattern of the seal in negative relief to give a raised point. They often used stones with several layers, each of a different color, which were then individually carved to produce a different pattern each year. They originally used the onyx name for a variety of marble having white and yellow veins. Onyx is the Greek word for “claw” or “fingernail” because these veins resemble the colors of a fingernail. The marble is still called “onyx marble,” being less valuable and softer than onyx which has a hardness rating of 7. Onyx was also traditionally used for carving cameo brooches.
The myth of the origin of onyx says that the goddess Venus was resting on the banks of the Indus River. As she slept, Cupid used the point of one of his enchanted arrows to give her a manicure. The parings of her nails then fell into the waters of the sacred river. Since the nails were of heavenly origin, they sank to the river bottom and were metamorphosed into onyx.
Onyx is a protective stone worn when facing adversaries in battles of conflicts of all kinds, or while hurrying down a dark street late at night. In classical ceremonial magic, the image of the head of the god Mars or a figure of the hero Hercules was engraved on onyx and carried for courage. Indians and Persians believed that wearing onyx protected them from the evil eye, and that placing onyx on the stomach of a pregnant woman in labor would reduce the labor pain and bring on earlier delivery.
Onyx is not only used for protection, but also as defense against negativity consciously directed towards you. It has also been used to reduce uncontrollable sexual impulses. The close union and yet strong contrast between the layers of black and white in some varieties of onyx may suggest its connection with romance. In India, Gemologists recommend Onyx as a protective measure for harmonious relationships, thus keeping away any probability of disturbances or differences between the couple. Onyx as a birthstone provides the structure and authority you crave. It can help you be the master of your destiny and strengthen your confidence. It provides support in difficult times and centers your energy in times of mental or physical stress. It also offers the gift of wise decisions.