Red Onyx: Mystery and Meaning (+ Answering Common Questions)

Not everyone agrees that red onyx is a real thing. In this article, we’ll explain why there is a disagreement, and if you are a believer, what the stone means for you.

What Is Red Onyx?

From a geological standpoint, natural red onyx is a parallel banded variety of the silicate mineral chalcedony. It is mostly composed of silicon dioxide, SiO2, and gets its color from impurities of iron oxide.

Other Stones With The Same Make Up

Red onyx basically has a really similar chemical make up to quartz, other forms of chalcedony (like jasper and agates) which are red, pink or brownish as the result of iron oxide inclusions and impurities.

What makes “onyx” theoretically different from these other stones is the parallel bands in the stone.

Is There Red Onyx? Really? (Digging Deeper Into The Mystery of This Stone)

People disagree about whether red onyx is really a thing, or it is just a ploy to try and inflate the prices of a stone that would otherwise be hard to sell in jewelry.

While onyx could have bands of every color, in general we recognize onyx as being black, or black and white.

Fully black onyx probably doesn’t exist, if the definition or identifying characteristic of onyx is the parallel bands. In most cases the black onyx we see out in the world is agate (also chalcedony) which has been dyed.

If you are shopping out there in the world for red onyx, you might see uniformly red stones or gems for sale. This would signal to use that the “red onyx” is probably a different color of chalcedony material which has been dyed red.

If you were to find onyx naturally in the world that was uniformly red (meaning it was consistently silicon dioxide with a uniformly consistent amount of iron oxide), you would probably conclude that the material was strawberry quartz, rose quartz, or some other red stone.

It could also be jasper, which is also really common out there in the world.

We aren’t sure what would cause someone to make the leap from jasper to red onyx without the bands.

The parallel bands is usually what tips us off that something could potentially be called onyx and not a carnelian or a red flavored quartz.

What is Sardonyx?

This isn’t to say that a variety of onyx with parallel bands of red does not exist. It does, though it is often called “sardonyx.”

The “sard” in the name “sardonyx” refers to the red colors in the stone.

But again, this screams of a marketing ploy to try and inflate the price of loose stones and jewelry.

In sardonyx, the red/sard is another form of chalcedony called carnelian.

While carnelian is a bit harder and darker than sard, sard is supposed to be lighter and a bit softer. In the end, it is pretty common in the gemological world to use the term terms interchangeably.

Carnelian is a plentiful material that rockhounders pick up every day on beaches and from riverbeds.

Sardonyx might be red onyx, but it also might just be a pretty carnelian.

Confused? Here’s a summary of what we know:

  • onyx is a variety of chalcedony with bands
  • it gets its red from iron oxides
  • red onyx is known as sardonyx
  • the red in the sardonyx is carnelian
  • carnelian is a variety of chalcedony but more brown
  • carnelian gets its red from iron oxides too

Basically, these guys are all really similar. Out in the world, there are pretty much two ways something is identified as red onyx:

  1. Presence of varied degrees of red parallel bands in a bright red piece of chalcedony
  2. A merchant decides to sell the reddish material as red onyx

We think red onyx exists. It is differentiated from carnelian by the brightness of the parallel bands.

But we also think that it is pretty likely that there is a lot of material (real and synthetic) that is being paraded around as “red onyx” or “sardonyx” which is just carnelian or even quartz.

What Is The Meaning of Red Onyx?

The meaning of red onyx (which we think of as the symbolism of the stone) centers around foundation, stability, and roots.

It is thought to embody the root chakra, located at the base of your spine, lower vertebra, and pelvic floor (which holds out body stable and upright).

It’s symbolism extends beyond its uses by crystals practitioners. It is specifically mentioned in the Bible in Revelation 20 along with other stones (like jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardius, chrysolyte, tpoz, jacinth, and amethyst) that made up the foundation of New Jerusalem.

What Are The Benefits of Red Onyx?

Any red onyx benefits you are experience will be unique and individual to you. As a member of the onyx family, people collect it, carry it, and wear it during times of intense stress of difficulty.

It is thought to help center you in a storm of instability, and help you draw strength out from deep inside you.

People who collect and wear this stone do so because they want to increase their feelings of safety and security.

What Are The Healing Properties of Red Onyx?

People are likely to jump to the conclusion that there must be something special about red onyx as compared to black onyx or other varieties.

Real onyx is so rare that, while it might actually have more healing abilities than have been observed, we don’t see at this point that it does any more than you would expect from other kinds of onyx.

As for red onyx metaphysical properties, we attribute the same or similar properties as you’d expect for black or black/white banded onyx.

What Is The Natural Color of Red Onyx?

Onyx comes in many colors. People are most familiar with black stones as “onyx” but true onyx has parallel bands.

Red onyx is going to be bright red with parallel bands of red in different vues.

Can You Wear Onyx Everyday?

Yes, you can wear onyx every day. Some people might argue against it. After all, it is a stone that is known for its stability, and is often worn during hard times or struggle. There is a concern that it might be less effective.

We take the position that we can always use more foundation and grounding in our lives. Every decision we make, every action we take, all of these things will be better if we come from a place of stability.

Even in times of calm, there is good in being rooted, and doing things to help encourage that platform.

You might even avoid those times of turbulence of you focus on your stability on a day to day basis, so there are fewer wild swings in your life.

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