While granite, quartzite, and marble are all forged deep within the earth’s crust, onyx is born right on the surface. Onyx forms from spring water or groundwater that has an abundance of calcite dissolved in it.
The most common color of onyx is a warm honey color, which is caused by iron oxide. The flowing layers of onyx reflect subtle variations in the spring water and add an artistic quality to the patterns and bands. Slabs of onyx are made by slicing down into the layers, revealing thousands of years of deposits. Onyx can also form inside caves or in other openings in bedrock. Veins of banded calcite can be found in fractured limestone, or even in volcanic rocks. Basically, beautiful formations of crystals can be created anywhere that mineral-laden groundwater flows. All it takes is the happenstance to discover the underground cache.
Travertine is formed in the same manner as onyx. The main difference between travertine and onyx is that travertine has a porous, lace-like texture while onyx is smooth and non-porous. Aside from that, the two stones are similar.
As you may have guessed, onyx is a somewhat fragile stone. It can become scratched and etched if used in a busy kitchen. Onyx countertops are best suited to parts of a kitchen that don’t see much heavy use.
High-end restaurants and resorts employ onyx bar tops to bring brilliance into space, an effect that is made even more spectacular when the stone is backlit. Onyx is also used as a backsplash, vanity, or as accent tiles.
Onyx isn’t limited to slabs though. It can be formed into basins, lighting fixtures, or tabletops. One of the most extraordinary qualities of onyx is its ability to radiate light. Any application that takes advantage of this quality is sure to make a beautiful statement.
Even though onyx can’t be used everywhere, its appeal is universal. Onyx reminds us that natural materials are unparalleled in their artistry. In this case, the stone is a collaboration of three simple ingredients: water, minerals, and time. (Source: Use Natural Stone website: usenaturalstone.org)