Does Onyx Jewelry Scratch Easily?

Onyx jewelry is an elegant and striking addition to your collection. You may have heard that onyx is fragile and can be easily scratched or damaged. If you are considering adding a piece of onyx jewelry to your collection or already have an onyx piece that you wonder how to care for properly, this guide is for you.

Jewelry containing onyx gemstones may scratch easily. However, you can protect your onyx stone with the proper care to ensure years of wear and enjoyment from your jewelry. Even though onyx may scratch more easily than other gemstones, it is still suitable for daily wear.

Gemstones are rated on a scale known as the Mohs scale to determine their level of hardness. The lower the number on the scale, the higher the potential that the stone can be easily scratched or damaged. With a Mohs rating of 6.5-7, onyx is a more easily scratched gemstone than others. Continue reading to learn how to properly care for your onyx jewelry, prevent damage, and maintain its timeless beauty.

A gorgeous silver onyx ring on a pink cloth, Does Onyx Jewelry Scratch Easily?

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Protecting Your Onyx Jewelry

A gold ring with an onyx on the center placed on a white background

Because onyx is a gemstone that can scratch, chip, or crack easily, you'll want to ensure you care for it properly. Make sure you avoid hitting or bumping your onyx jewelry. Take onyx rings off when you are doing activities such as sports, gardening, or housework that could damage it.

You'll also want to remove onyx if it could be exposed to water. Take onyx jewelry off before bathing or swimming. If you use perfumes or lotions, wait to put on the onyx jewelry until after applying these. Make sure you avoid contact with makeup on your onyx jewelry.

To clean onyx jewelry, use a soft dry cloth or brush to clean off any visible dirt. If needed, you can lightly dampen the cloth. Avoid immersing the stone in water. Onyx is porous and absorbs liquids easily. Avoid using any chemicals for this same reason. Do not put onyx jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner, as the vibrations can damage the stone. After cleaning, dry your jewelry off with a soft cloth before storing it.

Storing your onyx jewelry properly when not wearing it will also protect it from damage. Wrap onyx jewelry in soft cotton or velvet cloth to prevent damage from being scratched by other jewelry in your collection. An individual jewelry pouch is a great way to protect your treasured jewelry.

Click here to see this velvet jewelry pouch on Amazon.

What Is Onyx Made Out Of?

Onyx is a precious gemstone that is made of a mineral called calcite. This is the same mineral that makes up limestone, marble, and travertine. You may also hear onyx referred to as onyx marble, Mexican onyx, or Egyptian alabaster.

Onyx is formed when spring water or groundwater has an abundance of calcite dissolved in it. As this water comes from the mouth of a spring, the minerals precipitate out, building a crust of calcite crystals that will become onyx.

How Can You Tell If Something Is Real Onyx?

There are a few methods for determining if an onyx is real. Some may potentially damage an imitation stone, so think carefully before using these methods.

  1. Hold a lighter to the stone for ten seconds and then drop it into water. A real piece of onyx will remain unharmed, but an imitation will melt.
  2. Rub a cotton ball soaked in acetone nail polish remover over the stone. If any color comes off, the stone has been dyed and is not authentic.
  3. Real onyx can not be scratched by an item with a lower level of hardness. If you can scratch the stone with your fingernail, it is softer than real onyx and not authentic. Real onyx withstands this type of scratch.

A professional jeweler can evaluate jewelry safely and tell you if your stone is authentic without damage to the jewelry piece.

Is Onyx Always Black?

When you think of onyx, the color that typically comes to mind is black. The black onyx is a classic and striking gemstone that flatters all styles. But onyx is actually available in many different colors. Onyx's variations include white, black, blue, green, brown, red, gray, and gold shades. Onyx gemstones may show marbling or veining within the stone.

Black Onyx Ring

Click here to see this black onyx ring on Amazon.

Green Onyx Bracelet

Click here to see this green onyx bracelet on Amazon. 

Blue Onyx Necklace

Click here to see this blue onyx necklace on Amazon.

Is Onyx A Precious Stone?

Onyx is considered a semi-precious stone. However, some semi-precious stones may be even rarer than precious stones. Vintage and antique jewelry pieces containing onyx can be quite valuable. If you have a piece of onyx jewelry that has been handed down, you may be surprised to discover its value. A professional jeweler can evaluate your jewelry and estimate the value of the piece.

Precious stones refer to four types of gems:

  1. Diamonds
  2. Rubies
  3. Sapphires
  4. Emeralds

The most common semi-precious stones include:

  1. Alexandrite
  2. Agate
  3. Amethyst
  4. Aquamarine
  5. Garnet
  6. Lapis Lazuli
  7. Moonstone
  8. Opal
  9. Pearl
  10. Peridot
  11. Rose Quartz
  12. Spinel
  13. Tanzanite
  14. Tourmaline
  15. Turquoise
  16. Zircon

To learn more about the options for gemstones set in rings, read our post "15 Types Of Stones For Rings."

Can You Wear Onyx Every Day?

Even though onyx is a softer gemstone with proper care, it can be worn every day. Just make sure you take the precautions above to protect it. Remove your onyx jewelry before any activities that could scratch or crack it, and do not wear it if it might get exposed to water or chemicals. Don't wear onyx jewelry in the shower or when swimming.

How Can You Get Scratches Out Of Onyx?

Because of onyx's sensitivity to chemicals and liquids, onyx that has been scratched is best taken to a professional jeweler for repair. You can rub the stone with a soft cloth at home, but the use of a polishing product may cause further damage. Seek out the services of a jeweler that is experienced in stone restoration to repair your onyx jewelry.

Enjoy Your Onyx Jewelry Collection!

Onyx jewelry is truly beautiful and incorporates well into many fashion styles. Adding onyx jewelry into your collection will provide you with a timeless piece of jewelry. While onyx does require a bit of special care to prevent damage, if you follow the tips above, your onyx piece will remain in great condition and give you many years of enjoyment.

Our post "What Does Black Onyx Jewelry Mean?" gives a detailed discussion to learn more about the meaning of black onyx jewelry.

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