A slightly translucent chalcedony that is either black or with alternating black and white layers.
Its translucency inspired its name, from the Greek onyx meaning “nail”. However, the majority of onyxes on the market today no longer present this translucent quality as they have been dyed black, a technique that goes back to ancient times.
Onyx has always ranked among Cartier’s favorite stones. In the 1910s the jeweler chose it for its contrast, either to highlight the purity of rock crystal or the sparkle of diamonds, or to set off the bright colors of coral, emerald or turquoise.
Indeed, many of Cartier’s jewelry creations used all three elements in superbly elegant marriages of black, brightness and color.
The onyx-diamond couple was perfect for sophisticated evening jewelry, but also for mourning jewelry which women wore at the turn of the century. Cartier’s famous panther pavé, created in 1914, uses diamonds interspersed with spots of onyx.
Since then it has lent itself to watches, jewelry and vanity cases, or as a decoration for evening bags.Hardness: 6.5. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Madagascar, Mexico, United States.