Onyx is one of the August stones mascots

Our next publication under the heading "Stone mascot of the Month" is about the August onyx. This is a semi-precious stone, the main difference being its flat, multicoloured parallel layers. The thinner the stripes, the more valuable the stone is. The ancient Greeks believed that this stone was the nail of the Goddess of beauty Aphrodite (the name onyx comes from the Greek “ὄνυξ” - nail). Legends tell that one day her son Eros, the God of love, was playing with his arrows near his sleeping mother. During one of these games, one of the arrows hit the Goddess's fingernail and cut off a piece of it, which fell from Mount Olympus and got into the world of human beings.

Onyx is one of the varieties of chalcedony. In many respects, it resembles granite and marble, but excels them in cold resistance, hardness and water absorption.

The first attempts to mine onyx date back to the 5th century B.C. in Egypt and Babylon; deposits were later discovered in Greece and Rome, where the mineral is still mined today. Mineral deposits can be found almost everywhere in the world. Rather large deposits of onyx were found in Afghanistan, Mexico, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran. Russian deposits are not as rich and are located in Chukotka, Kolyma and Primorsky region.

The origin of onyx can be easily explained with the help of modern science - this mineral is formed by layering of carbonate minerals in hot springs. It is formed in high-temperature thermal springs, during the eruption of volcanic lava, including sea lava, and less frequently in low-temperature springs, but each of the resulting kinds will differ in colour. Calcite (marble, etc.) types of onyx are widespread and are among the most accessible and inexpensive decorative and ornamental materials. They are widely used in mass-produced household goods and large-sized items: all kinds of small and medium-sized statuary, vases, caskets, candlesticks, tabletops. It is also used in mosaics and lining. A variety of jewellery is often carved from onyx, the rarest and highest quality varieties of onyx (agate and carnelian - "sardonyx") are used for creating cameos, in which the higher part of the dark image contrasts with the lighter background. For example, the famous "Gonzaga Cameo"*, the most renown onyx work, is carved from three-layered stone that has white, grey-blue and reddish colours.

There are many beliefs about the magical qualities of onyx. It is believed that the stone is useful to strong people, with determined character and ambition, since it brings stability and "power of reason" in life, helps to concentrate and gain patience. It is a stone of invincible warriors that know how to defend their interests. Onyx is considered a powerful life talisman. It can turn away the evil eye from its owner, guard against negative thoughts, conspiracy and other magical rituals. The gem helps to defeat enmity by enhancing the effect of a person's energy field. Onyx is a mineral that has earned people's appreciation for a reason. In the zodiacal circle, onyx is perfect for the sign of August, Leo. The stone will channel his energy in the right direction and make him master up his energy on achieving the desired result.

In the wild, the mineral is found in almost all shades of colour. The most widespread are: black onyx (Arabic), orange-red or brown stone, green onyx (mineral), white gem (with milky or delicate pink hue); brown, pink, blue, yellow and beige minerals.

Thematic photo album “Onyx - stone mascot of August” is posted in the museum Photo Gallery.

*Gonzaga cameo is a paired portrait of Egypt rulers. Unknown author. III century B.C. Currently in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg