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Sardonyx Meanings and Properties


Sardonyx History

Sardonyx can be traced back four thousand years to Ancient Egypt. For most of its history, this stone has been used to create cameos and intaglios. In Ancient Rome, women wore sardonyx necklaces with cameos of Venus in hopes of harnessing the power of the goddess of love. It was also common for soldiers to wear sardonyx rings and carvings containing images of Mars, the god of war, into battle as a means of protection. Sardonyx was also a popular stone for Roman seals and signet rings that were used to imprint wax emblems on official documents because hot wax doesn't stick to this stone.

Sardonyx is an agate whose banding is straight and parallel. Much like agate, it is dyed to enhance or change its colors. Dyeing agate was an art practiced by the Romans from early on, but it reached perfection in the 1820s in Oberstein, Germany. That town is still the world's center for the finest cutting and dyeing of agate. Although the details of the process remain a commercial secret, it is known that iron oxide is a pigment used to create the rich combination of deep orange-reds in red and white bullseye sardonyx and in the red and white-banded variety. Carbon is used to create the striking deep black banding in black and white banded sardonyx. The effects are stunning--ancient agate beads in rich colors perfect for blending with solid colored red or black beads.

Sardonyx is August's birthstone and makes a great gift for anyone born in this month.

Sardonyx Metaphysical Properties

Used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness and clear communication. It brings lasting happiness and stability to marriage and partnerships. The spiritual values of red and white-banded and red bullseye sardonyx make these stones particularly powerful. In fact, they are said to allow one to project such an incredible charisma that many people suggest the stone be used with care to avoid overwhelming others. Wear them, they say, when you want extra power in a particular circumstance.

Much of the black and white-banded sardonyx's power comes from its association with a particular body type--slender, quick-moving people who are intellectually active. If you're clever, versatile, highly verbal and have an optimistic disposition, those traits may be heightened when you wear black and white-banded sardonyx. Or, you can wear it to help you control one of those traits if it's working against you. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will protect against evil.

Sardonyx Geological Properties

This stone combines alternating layers of sard and onyx; hence its name. Sard appears anywhere from a dark orange to red to almost black. Onyx, although thought by most to only appear in black, can appear in almost any color. These two types of the mineral chalcedony are paired in bands to create sardonyx. Also known as Sardian Onyx, it may be clearly banded or have a less defined mix of colors.

The best examples of sardonyx, which display sharp contrasts between the layers, are found in India. Other deposits include Brazil, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Madagascar, Uruguay and the United States.

Mineral Information Microcrystalline quartz, banded chalcedony
Chemical Composition SiO2
Color Red and white; black and white (dye enhanced)
Hardness 6-1/2 to 7 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 2.60 - 2.65
Refractive Index 1.544 - 1.553

Proper Care of Sardonyx

Clean sardonyx using warm soapy water and a soft brush. Although it has a high hardness, sardonyx can still be scratched or damaged by gemstones with a higher hardness, as well as other materials. Avoid using household chemicals when cleaning sardonyx beads, components or jewelry. This stone can be sensitive to heat, especially dyed stones, and prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade color-enhanced types. Store sardonyx inside a fabric-lined box or wrapped in a soft cloth.

To learn more about Sardonyx and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Sardonyx

Sardonyx jewelry adds a fiery and powerful accent to any outfit. It can stand alone as a focal piece or be a part of a visually intriguing stringing pattern with its unique banding. Pair with black onyx to highlight the bands of black or tone-on-tone combinations of dark orange to red gemstone beads such as carnelian, jasper, garnet and similar colors of agate gemstone beads for a major impact. Add Celestial Crystal® beads or Swarovski® crystal beads for a brilliant mixture of sparkle and richness.

View design inspirations featuring sardonyx in the Gallery of Designs

Shop for Sardonyx Items

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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