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Sardonyx; The History Behind It

Updated: Jan 22

Have you ever wondered about Sardonyx and where it comes from? Well, if you do, then I am going to tell you all about the stone because it is a very beautiful and strong stone.


Sardonyx is a variety of Chalcedony–a mineral composed of microcrystalline Quartz, with fine-grained layers of Iron Oxide. And that's what it basically is. But when you look at it deeper, this beautiful stone has a lot of history to tell. Its name was derived from the Greek word "Sardius" which means “reddish brown”. Sardonyx gets that coloring from iron

compounds within the material after it's been altered by heat. Although Sardonyx takes on a lot of its coloring from iron oxide and manganese oxide minerals, it still has a natural red color to it.


Sardonyx is a banded stone that typically has a white base color with alternating brown or reddish-brown bands. The bands can be uniform or irregular in shape, and the contrast between the white and brown bands can range from subtle to bold. The white base color of Sardonyx is usually formed from chalcedony, a mineral that is a variety of quartz. The brown or reddish-brown bands are typically formed from iron oxide or other mineral impurities. Sardonyx is often cut and polished to enhance its natural beauty, and it can have a smooth or rough texture, depending on how it is cut. Sardonyx is sometimes referred to as "onyx" due to its banded appearance, although true onyx is a different mineral. Sardonyx is a type of agate, a microcrystalline variety of quartz.



Mineral properties of Sardonyx include:

Hardness: 7 on the Mohs scale

Luster: Vitreous

Chemical composition: SiO2 (silicon dioxide)


Sardonyx is not toxic. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is formed from silicon dioxide, which is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. Sardonyx is safe to handle and does not release any toxic substances when touched or inhaled. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after handling Sardonyx or any other mineral to avoid transferring any dirt or bacteria to your skin. Additionally, some people may have a skin sensitivity to Sardonyx or other minerals, so it's always a good idea to test a small piece of the material on your skin before using it extensively.


Sardonyx is usually translucent to opaque, with the level of translucency depending on the thickness and clarity of the bands. In some cases, Sardonyx can be partially translucent, with the white bands being more transparent than the brown or reddish-brown bands. The level of translucency in Sardonyx can affect its appearance and can influence how it is used in jewelry or other decorative applications. When properly cut and polished, Sardonyx can have a smooth, glossy surface that highlights its banded pattern and natural beauty.

The background history of Sardonyx dates back to ancient times, where it was highly prized and used for decorative purposes, such as cameos and intaglios, in Greece and Rome. It was also believed to have protective powers and was used as a talisman against evil spirits. Sardonyx was also one of the stones listed in the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest in the Bible.


Sardonyx. The gemstone that has brought joy to people the world over. There are many varieties of Sardonyx, ranging from blood red to sea foam green and even white. It is

thought to have been first discovered in the 1860s or perhaps as early as 1793. A frenchmen named Jean Baptiste Biot was exploring at the base of a mountain near Constantinople (now called London). While there he came upon some small marble pillars that were mottled with red and creamy white in color. The marble was soft, easily workable and found to be easy to cut. But the question is "what caused this marble to be this way?" He concluded that it was a natural deposit from minerals underground and later went off exploring the surrounding areas for possible sources of the material — little did he know the answer was much nearer than he ever expected it would be!


Sardonyx is found in various locations around the world, including: Brazil India Uruguay the United States (California, Montana, Oregon) Russia Madagascar Germany Sardonyx is typically found in the cavities of volcanic rocks, such as agate geodes, and is often formed from the precipitation of silica-rich solutions. Sardonyx can also be found in sedimentary rocks, such as limestone and sandstone, as well as in metamorphic rocks, such as marble and schist. The quality and appearance of Sardonyx can vary depending on the location where it is found and the conditions under which it was formed. Sardonyx is a popular mineral for jewelry, carving, and other decorative purposes, and it is often sold as rough rock or polished cabochons.


Sardonyx was used for jewelry in Ancient Egypt and Rome, as well as for intaglio seals during the Middle Ages. It was later used to make cameos and signet rings in Renaissance art. The gem even has its own birthstone in the month of October! In addition to its use in

jewelry, Sardonyx is also cut into cabochons making it a great stone for collectors. Not only can Sardonyx be used as a beautiful gem but it is also helpful as a stress relief tool and is known to promote self-confidence.


In summary, Sardonyx is a stone that has been mined and appreciated by many different civilizations in the past. The opportunities to use it now are quite broad, and there's no sign that its use will diminish any time soon. If you have an appreciation for this beautiful form of tectosilicate, or if you can see yourself using it in your everyday life, you may want to invest in a piece of Sardonyx.


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