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Onyx is a highly decorative material that has been used as a gemstone and as a decorative surfacing material. Many varieties of onyx include semi-translucent veining that may be backlit, creating a dramatic effect. Onyx was frequently used by the ancient Egyptians to create bowls and other decorative elements. Flouting the traditional rules of minimalist design, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used onyx to create a semi-translucent wall in Villa Tugendhat.
Geology of Onyx
A translucent, generally layered, cryptocrystalline calcite.
All onyx will acid etch when exposed to acidic foods such as lemons or tomatoes. Most onyx has a moderate absorption rating and will stain when exposed to oil and highly-pigmented liquids. All onyx has a very low abrasion resistance rating; it will scratch, stun and crack. All onyx has naturally occurring cracks and fissures.
Care + Maintenance Tips
- Onyx must be handled with extreme care in both fabrication and installation.
- Onyx is suitable for interior wall applications, not for floors. Onyx is sometimes used on vanities and other non-food service countertops; in these instances, the end user must be made aware of its acid sensitivity and fragility.
- Always use a neutral detergent to clean onyx.
- Expect to see factory-repaired cracks and fissures. The quality of the repair is dependent upon the factory of origin, the fabricator of the stone and the installer.