Onyx is a beautiful natural stone with a long history of use for decorative sculptures, jewellery, as well as striking architectural features. Onyx also carries an air of mystique from the many superstitions and beliefs around this semi-precious stone. Today, onyx is a popular choice for interior design – celebrated for its beauty and detail. With its endless array of colours and translucent quality that lends itself to many projects and uses, onyx is still as popular as ever. Learn more about this ancient stone as we look deeper into its past and how we use it today.

Anchor a room with Onice Pure White. This striking stone shows its best side when illuminated in a backlit design

The Making of Onyx

While granite and marble come from deep within the earth’s crust, onyx forms from spring water or groundwater with a calcite content where mineral-laden groundwater flows or drips. The water emerges, resulting in the discharge of the dissolved calcite minerals. This process eventually forms a crust of calcite crystals. Over time this process repeats itself, creating layers that form the intricate bands of colour you see in cut onyx. Variations in the water flow rate, time, and mineral deposits give onyx its wide variety of colours and patterning.

Onyx is mined internationally in countries such as Greece, Yemen, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Botswana, Pakistan, India, and America. Once removed from the earth, the onyx slabs are sliced down into layers, revealing thousands of years of deposits. Slabs are cut, polished, and treated – then transported globally to showrooms and dealerships.

Onyx in History

Onyx has a long history of use in jewellery and carvings, where the bands of colour create a beautiful contrast with the layered background. The use of onyx is recorded in early Egypt to make bowls and pottery and art in Minoan Crete. Later, Brazilian green onyx was used as plinths for art deco sculptures in the 1920s and 30s, with slabs of onyx from the Atlas Mountains famously used by architect Mies van der Rohe in Villa Tugendhat to create a shimmering semi-translucent interior wall. The Hôtel de la Païva in Paris and the new Mariinsky Theatre Second Stage in St.Petersburg (Russia) celebrate yellow onyx – and its dramatic effect.

Onice Colorado brings warmth and texture to your project with its rich caramel brown hues.

Modern Onyx

Onyx is a rare stone that requires plenty of resources to mine, which historically means it was exclusively for art or the palaces of the wealthy. With modern advancements in mining and transportation, onyx is more widely accessible to people today, even though it is still a rare and valuable material.

Onyx is known for its intricate layering and ethereal semi-translucent quality. These qualities make it a soft stone, prone to chipping and staining. Therefore, onyx is best suited to decorative accents like bar counters or feature walls. Office spaces, restaurants, and hotels use onyx to bring brilliance into an area through welcome desks or bar tops, an effect more spectacular when the stone is backlit. Not limited to slabs, onyx is utilised in basins, lighting or statement tabletops. One of the best features of this beautiful stone is its ability to radiate light, so backlighting onyx is a sure-fire way to bring style and drama to a project.

Onyx Maintenance

Onyx is a soft calcium-based natural stone that reacts with acids, including common household liquids like lemon juice, vinegar, coffee, and wine. The two most important maintenance steps are professional sealing to slow down the absorption process of spills and retain the shine, and cleaning up spills as they happen using the proper method. Reseal every three years to maintain the protective layer, clean spills by blotting to absorb rather than wiping, and use cleaning products specially made for onyx surfaces.

With a peaches-and-cream ‘complexion’, each slab of Onice Aperol captures a series of wavy veins and striations.

Onyx Colours

Onyx comes in various colours and patterns – from the most common warm honey shade to colourful tones of reds and greens caused by variations of mineral deposits. In its purest state, the calcite in onyx is white or clear. However, it is tinted easily by minor amounts of other minerals like iron oxide. The signature flowing layers of onyx reflect subtle variations in the water, adding an artistic quality to the patterns.

Classic choices include traditional monochrome shades in white, black and brown tones, lending a classic feel to a space. Bolder shades bring a sophisticated, luxurious feel to a project while remaining timeless in their appeal.

Red onyx offers a unique look and feel with bold gem-like brick reds to creamy pink tones. Cool shades of blues bring a calming feel or a playful pop of colour in the form of an accent wall or feature countertop.

Onyx is a rare and beautiful stone treasured for centuries. Bring the timeless beauty of onyx into your home or professional space and enjoy years of use with proper care and maintenance. With each piece offering unique colouration and patterning, you can find the perfect onyx to bring your next design project to life.

*All Rudi’s Choice material is subject to stock availability.