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Strands of Onyx and Sardonyx Gemstone Beads

Onyx and sardonyx are silicon dioxide, gemstone varieties of the tectosilicate mineral quartz in the trigonal crystal system. Onyx and sardonyx are varieties of chalcedony, quartz with an microcrystalline texture so fine that its crystalline nature is too small to see clearly even under strong magnification. Historically, the term onyx has been employed to describe a type of banded agate exhibiting flat parallel bands of alternating white and black color. Sard is a deep reddish-brown, sometimes approaching black, colored chalcedony and in sardonyx the parallel bands alternate between white and sard. Both onyx and sardonyx have been historically employed in the art of cameo carving. Skillful carvers classically employ a white band in onyx or sardonyx for carving cameo busts and figures that stand out in relief and high contrast against a contrasting background provided by a black or sard colored layer.

Onyx has been valued and employed as a gemstone since ancient times. The Bible describes onyx as one of the 12 gems ornamenting the foundation of Jerusalem and also describes onyx stones carved as signets bearing the names of the 12 sons of Israel and set in gold as ornaments on the shoulder straps of the priest Aaron's garments. Cameo carving had been elevated to a fine art by the time of the ancient Romans.

High quality, cameo grade onyx and sardonyx lapidary material is rare. In more contemporary vernacular, the terms onyx and sardonyx have been diluted and misapplied in the trade to refer to more general types and color varieties of banded agates and other species of materials that are not chalcedonies. Black dyed chalcedony is often represented as "onyx", as are other black dyed species. The misnomer "Mexican onyx", a term commonly employed to describe many colors of material and all too conveniently shortened to simply "onyx", is actually calcite or aragonite. Another faux "onyx" are some varieties of marble, which are metamorphically altered limestone or dolostone.

Onyx and sardonyx are most commonly presented in jewelry as cabochons, beads and carvings. Onyx and sardonyx are relatively tough and hard material (7 Mhos hardness) with good wear characteristics and resistance to abrasion. Onyx and sardonyx wear well in rings and bracelets and are employed as gemstones in all types of jewelry. Onyx and sardonyx do not have specific care requirements, but conservative gemstone precautions should be observed when cleaning and storing them for the sake of preserving the original condition of the stone. It is safest to clean onyx and sardonyx using warm water, mild soap and a cloth or soft brush. Do not use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner and keep onyx and sardonyx out of contact with excessive heat, acids, ammonia and other chemical or abrasive cleaners.


BeadStrand87 - Onyx Gemstone Beads 8mm Rondelle - $22.45
    
Limited Stock: 6 Strands Available
BeadStrand87 - Onyx Gemstone Beads 8mm Rondelle Approximate Size: 8mm diameter x 5mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.

Strand lengths are approximately 16 inches long and each strand contains approximately 82 beads.

Average strand weight approximately 43 grams.

These are very handsome 8mm rondelles which we acquired as "sardonyx". Some of the individual beads exhibit reddish brown to brownish-grey/black bands characteristic of sardonyx, or mixed black, brown and white bands. However, the overall color is black and white as opposed to sard and white, so we describe and classify them as onyx.


BeadStrand88 - Onyx Gemstone Beads 14mm Coin - $17.95
    
Limited Stock: 1 Strand Available
BeadStrand88 - Onyx Gemstone Beads 14mm Coin Approximate Size: 14mm diameter x 5mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.

Strand lengths are approximately 16 inches long and each strand contains approximately 29 beads.

Average strand weight approximately 40 grams.

These are very handsome 14mm coins which we acquired as "sardonyx". Some of the individual beads exhibit reddish brown to brownish-grey/black bands characteristic of sardonyx, or mixed black, brown and white bands. However, the overall color is black and white as opposed to sard and white, so we describe and classify them as onyx.

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