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Is Onyx Valuable? Understanding Its Worth and Market Value


May 25, 2024
Is Onyx Valuable

Onyx is a gemstone that has captivated humans for centuries with its striking appearance and unique properties. Its value, both monetary and cultural, has fluctuated over time, making it a fascinating subject for collectors, jewelers, and enthusiasts alike. This article delves into the factors that contribute to the value of onyx, and provides practical tips for buying and selling this captivating gemstone.

What is Onyx?

Onyx is a variety of chalcedony, which is a microcrystalline form of quartz. It is characterized by its parallel bands of color, which can range from black and white to shades of brown, red, and green. These bands are formed through the deposition of silica in gas cavities in lava, creating the distinctive layered appearance that onyx is known for.

Types of Onyx

There are several types of onyx, each with its unique characteristics

Black Onyx : The most well-known variety, featuring deep black bands often contrasted with white or lighter shades.

  • Sardonyx : A type of onyx with reddish-brown and white bands, often used in cameos and intaglios.
  • Green Onyx : Known for its vibrant green color, often used in decorative items and jewelry.
  • Blue Onyx : A rarer variety with striking blue hues, highly sought after for its unique appearance.

Types of Onyx

Historical Significance of Onyx

Ancient Civilizations

Onyx has been valued since ancient times. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all prized onyx for its beauty and versatility. It was often used in amulets, seals, and carvings. The Romans believed that onyx could protect against evil and bring good fortune, making it a popular choice for talismans.

Medieval and Renaissance Periods

During the medieval and Renaissance periods, onyx continued to be highly valued. It was used in religious artifacts, such as rosaries and reliquaries, and was believed to have protective and healing properties. Onyx was also a popular material for cameos and intaglios, which were used to create intricate portraits and scenes.

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Factors Affecting the Value of Onyx

Color and Pattern

The color and pattern of onyx are the most significant factors in determining its value. High-quality onyx will have vibrant, well-defined bands of color with minimal inclusions or imperfections. Black onyx with stark white bands is particularly prized, as are pieces with unique and striking patterns.

Size and Shape

Larger pieces of onyx are generally more valuable, especially if they are free from cracks or other defects. The shape of the onyx can also affect its value, with well-cut and polished pieces commanding higher prices.


The origin of the onyx can also play a role in its value. Onyx from certain regions, such as Brazil, India, and Mexico, is often considered to be of higher quality and can command higher prices.

Treatment and Enhancement

Some onyx is treated or enhanced to improve its appearance. This can include dyeing, heat treatment, or impregnation with resins. While treated onyx can still be beautiful, it is generally less valuable than natural, untreated onyx.

Modern-Day Applications of Onyx


Onyx is a popular choice for jewelry, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Its striking appearance and versatility make it a favorite among designers and consumers alike. Black onyx, in particular, is often used in men’s jewelry, such as cufflinks and signet rings.

Decorative Items

Onyx is also used to create a wide range of decorative items, including vases, bowls, and figurines. Its unique patterns and colors make it a popular choice for home decor, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to any space.

Architectural Elements

In addition to its use in jewelry and decorative items, onyx is also used in architecture. It can be found in countertops, wall panels, and flooring, where its natural beauty and durability make it a practical and attractive choice.

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Market Trends and Value of Onyx

Current Market Trends

The market for onyx has seen steady growth in recent years, driven by increasing demand for unique and high-quality gemstones. The rise of online marketplaces has also made it easier for consumers to access a wide range of onyx products, further boosting its popularity.

Factors Influencing Market Value

Several factors can influence the market value of onyx, including:

  • Supply and Demand: As with any commodity, the value of onyx is influenced by supply and demand. Limited supply and high demand can drive up prices, while an oversupply can lead to lower prices.
  • Economic Conditions: Economic conditions can also impact the value of onyx. During times of economic uncertainty, consumers may be less likely to spend money on luxury items, leading to lower demand and prices.
  • Fashion Trends: Fashion trends can also play a role in the value of onyx. When onyx is in vogue, demand and prices are likely to be higher.

How to Assess the Quality of Onyx

How to Assess the Quality of Onyx

Visual Inspection

The first step in assessing the quality of onyx is a visual inspection. Look for vibrant, well-defined bands of color with minimal inclusions or imperfections. The surface should be smooth and well-polished, with no visible cracks or chips.

Testing for Authenticity

There are several tests that can be used to determine the authenticity of onyx

  • Scratch Test : Onyx is relatively hard, with a Mohs hardness of 6.5-7. A simple scratch test can help determine if the stone is genuine. Use a steel knife to gently scratch the surface of the onyx. If it leaves a mark, the stone may not be genuine onyx.
  • Heat Test : Onyx is resistant to heat, so a heat test can also help determine its authenticity . Hold the stone over a flame for a few seconds. If it changes color or shows signs of damage, it may not be genuine onyx.
  • UV Light Test : Onyx does not fluoresce under UV light, so a UV light test can also be used to determine its authenticity. Shine a UV light on the stone. If it fluoresces, it may not be genuine onyx.
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Professional Appraisal

For a more accurate assessment of the quality and value of onyx, it is recommended to seek a professional appraisal. A certified gemologist can provide a detailed analysis of the stone, including its color, pattern, size, and origin, and can provide an accurate valuation.

Caring for Onyx


Onyx is relatively easy to care for, but it is important to clean it properly to maintain its beauty and value. Use a soft cloth and mild soap to gently clean the surface of the onyx. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can damage the stone.


When not in use, onyx should be stored in a soft cloth or padded jewelry box to protect it from scratches and other damage. Avoid storing onyx with other gemstones, as they can scratch the surface of the stone.


Onyx is relatively durable, but it can still be damaged if not handled properly. Avoid dropping or knocking the stone, and be careful when wearing onyx jewelry to prevent damage.


Is onyx valuable and versatile gemstone that has been prized for centuries for its beauty and unique characteristics. Its value is influenced by several factors, including color and pattern, size and shape, origin, and treatment. Onyx is used in a wide range of applications, from jewelry and decorative items to architectural elements, and its popularity continues to grow. By understanding the factors that contribute to the value of onyx and how to assess its quality, you can make informed decisions when buying or selling this beautiful gemstone.

By Hong