The Different Onyx Colors And What They Each Look Like

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The Different Onyx Colors And What They Each Look Like

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Onyx is a mineral that is made up of layers of chalcedony. Now, don’t be scared off by that fancy name!

Chalcedony is another type of mineral that is related to quartz. The coolest thing about onyx is that it has layers, like an onion, except much prettier.

The colors of onyx are mesmerizing. Although many people picture Onyx as always black, that’s not true. Black onyx is the most famous; you might have seen it in jewelry or as cool decorations.

But what a surprise! The stone can be in several colors. It takes a long time to form, which is how it gets these various colors. Each layer of an onyx stone can be a different color, so when you look at it, you see a colorful story that took thousands of years to create.

We will focus on onyx and the different colors you might find in it. We’ll also talk about what makes each color different. We’ll talk about the five primary colors, and by the end, you’ll know what makes onyx and its range of colors so valuable.

If you ever get to hold an onyx, think about how it went through a lot of time and amazing underground adventures to look so stylish. Prepare to catch a piece of art from a hidden gallery on Earth!

The Most Common Onyx Color

12 square cut black onyx stones
Black Onyx photo provided by Dangemsco

Black Onyx is the superstar of the onyx family. It’s the color most people think of when they hear “onyx.” But have you ever wondered how this cool-looking rock gets its dark shade? Let’s break it down.

Onyx is formed when liquid minerals seep into cavities in other rocks. As these liquids cool down and harden over a long time, they become solid. It’s kind of like how chocolate hardens when you leave it in the fridge!

The key ingredient that gives black onyx its deep, dark color is called “carbon.” Think of carbon as the magic crayon that colors the onyx black.

Often, these are also the most valuable type. Find out more about the current prices of onyx and learn what makes it worth the money.

Sometimes, the onyx stone can have different layers of colors, like white or brown. When you see a black onyx with these layers, the liquid minerals change over time while the onyx form. It’s how nature paints with different shades on a canvas.

So, the next time you look at a piece of black onyx, think about its incredible journey. From liquid minerals to solid rock, with a little sprinkle of carbon magic, we get the fabulous black onyx!

The Different Colors Of Onyx

Now that we’ve discussed the most common color, we’ll discuss some of the less common ones. Some of these are even more stunning than the famous ones!

Banded Onyx

A huge banded onyx beaded necklace
Banded Onyx photo provided by and available for purchase at aadyabazaar

Think of a stone that looks like it has stripes of different colors. That’s what you call banded onyx. These lines or bands aren’t just for looks; they show how the stone was made.

Over time, different kinds of minerals seep into the spaces in rocks. As each mineral hardens, it forms a layer. You get that striped or “banded” look when many layers stack up. Just think of it like a layered cake, but way harder and not for eating!

Banded onyx can be found in many places around the world. Volcanic activity or hot springs are good examples of these places, as they encourage the deposition of silica and the formation of bands in the stone.

Where you can find banded onyx

Some top spots include Brazil, India, Madagascar, and Uruguay. You might also find it in Arizona or California in the United States. These regions have the right conditions underground for banded onyx to form.

You can also try to find banded onyx in the best rockhounding locations for more chances of discovery.

Brown Onyx

A gorgeous brown onyx silver necklace pendant
Brown Onyx photo provided by The Dead Bird

Brown onyx reminds you of the warm colors of dirt, tree bark, or chocolate. The colors of this stone are natural and earthy, which gives it a calming vibe.

It’s similar to banded onyx in that it’s made when minerals settle in layers over a long time.

But brown onyx gets its color from different minerals and elements, which give it a warm brown color. As they harden, they create layers, giving them the unique patterns we see.

They typically form and are found in places with much geological activity. From deserts to forests, mountains to plains, onyx has made its mark and continues to charm rock enthusiasts worldwide.

Where you can find brown onyx

With its vast lands filled with all sorts of gems, Brazil proudly showcases brown onyx, especially in areas like Minas Gerais.

Over in Asia, India’s states of Rajasthan and Gujarat also offer homes to brown onyx, with the stone hiding in their rocky terrains.

The United States, known for its diverse landscapes, has some brown onyx too. If you were to wander in states like Arizona or even parts of California, you might spot this brown beauty.

Similarly, regions in Mexico and parts of the Middle East, like Iran, are also known to have deposits of brown onyx.

Green Onyx

A mesmerizing green onyx ring
Green Onyx photo provided by and available for purchase at  VERDIGRISJEWELLERY

Green onyx is one of the most beautiful stones. Imagine holding a piece of the forest’s soul, with colors that make you think of fresh leaves or cool moss.

The beautiful green color of onyx comes from certain minerals mixed in when the stone is made. Like silicate minerals with traces of chromium and iron, these minerals are the magic ingredients that give green onyx its color.

Over time, as these minerals settle and harden, they form a rock that is as cool and refreshing as a green apple.

Green onyx is a naturally occurring variation of the onyx gemstone. Just like its cousins in the onyx family, it forms over thousands of years, typically in the cavities of lava.

Where you can find green onyx

Brazil is the most valuable player in the green onyx game. With its thick rainforests and big rivers, this country has areas where the gem is hidden under the ground. The minerals and conditions on the ground in this area are just right for making this stone.

India is another green onyx hub. Several specimens of the gem are under the vast deserts and rolling hills of places like Rajasthan.

It’s also popular in Mexico. With its long history and beautiful scenery, their land is the perfect place for this stone. Especially in places with volcanoes, the ground’s heat and minerals are just suitable for making green onyx.

In most of the best places where to find crystals near you, you can find a wide range of the same types in the exact locations.

Red Onyx

A unique red onyx hexagon necklace pendant
Red Onyx photo provided by jewelsfactoryinc

Red onyx is the stone family’s fiery cousin. When you look at it, you might think of a fiery sunset or the deep colors of autumn leaves. Have you ever thought about why it’s red? The minerals in it hold the key.

Deep inside the Earth, it’s made from a mix of minerals, especially iron. The stone’s bright red color comes from the iron in it. When Iron decides to be the star of the show, red onyx comes to life!

Red onyx is a natural variation of the onyx gemstone. Like other colors of onyx, it forms over many years, often in the cavities of lava.

Its bright shades of red aren’t made by people or made in a lab; they come straight from the heart of our fantastic planet!

Where you can find red onyx

Mexico’s mountains, deserts, and long history make it an excellent place for red onyx to form. The unique conditions under their ground, sometimes related to volcanic areas, are suitable for creating this fiery gem.

Besides being known for its jungles, Brazil has lands packed with beautiful rocks and minerals, including this red beauty.

You can also find red onyx beneath the plains and the mountains of specific regions in Argentina.

White Onyx

An elegant vintage-looking white onyx ring with intricate detail
White Onyx photo provided by Carol Henderson Gallery

White onyx is the snow queen of gems. It’s elegant, shiny, and has a pure, clean look. Most onyx stones have colors because of different minerals mixed in. But white onyx is exceptional!

White onyx is a naturally occurring variation of the onyx gemstone. The pristine white color is a result of the stone’s composition.

While many types of onyx get their colors from various minerals that mix during formation, white onyx has fewer color-giving minerals. This absence allows it to maintain its bright and clean appearance.

Where you can find white onyx

White onyx is found in different places around the world. This stone comes from many places, but a significant one in Mexico. Its unique geology and underground conditions are perfect for making this stone.

It’s also found in Turkey, which has a variety of geological landscapes that make it a good place.

In the U.S., states like Arizona, which have deserts and rocky areas, sometimes have white onyx deposits.

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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